2017 was not a lot of fun for most sentient beings on planet Earth. As war raged in Syria, the EU began its break up with Britain and America got to grips with the lunatic reality tv star a minority of the population voted in as president (with the help of Vladimir Putin), those who care about a viable future for humanity were left reeling for much of the year.
The staff here at the Banter have been focused almost exclusively on the Donald Trump administration -- a godawful task so soul destroying that we quite literally lost one of our most beloved contributors. In February of 2017, our Editor at Large Chez Pazienza tragically died from what appeared to be an accidental heroin overdose leaving behind a fiancee and two daughters. Those close to him knew how badly he reacted to the emergence of Trump and his insidious political ideology, and the constant war on reality and common decency took their toll on him. While we were shocked by his untimely passing, we were sadly not surprised. Chez had always battled personal demons, but Trump appeared to have tipped him over the edge. "He was headed somewhere really dark," Bob Cesca told me after he died. "I think this election really screwed him up and he hasn't been able to deal with it."
Despite the terrible loss, the staff at the Banter continued to wage war on the Trump administration as best we could. It has not been easy and we have most certainly felt his absence. Oftentimes I find myself wishing Chez were here to weigh in on a particularly unpleasant story, not knowing exactly how to articulate the exasperation and rage he was so phenomenal at channeling. But we are doing our best, and I hope he would be proud of that effort.
The most difficult aspect of Trump's presidency to manage has really been the constant bombardment of lies and deliberate misinformation. Trump and his allies at Fox News and Breitbart.com have declared war on objective reality and are fighting in unison to break the will of those still attached to it. We have done our best to combat this onslaught by countering as many of the bullshit claims and false stories we been able to while also providing commentary on what it all means. Our philosophy has been centered on holding on to the truth for dear life and not giving an inch to the bastards trying to take it away from us. As President Obama told Trump before he took office, "reality has a way of asserting itself," and we have been here to consistently remind him of this.
There have been so many scandals, lies and disgusting episodes that it is almost impossible to keep up with them, but I am convinced that we will lose if we cede ground. And that quite simply is not an option. The most powerful nation on earth cannot be run by a senile, sociopathic narcissist who is simply genetically incapable of telling the truth. Trump is a conman who built his business empire by lying, cheating and scamming his way to the top, and there is no possibility that he will change. Lying is in his DNA, and the only way to stop it is to get rid of him once and for all.
Those who voted for him share responsibility in the havoc he has created, and those still with him must now be considered a serious threat to human survival. Trump has not only declared war on reality, he has declared war on the living environment, too. His disgraceful decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accord and gut the EPA at a time when coordinated action to prevent ecological catastrophe is needed more than ever will go down as one of the gravest crimes against the planet in history. There is no middle ground when it comes to Trump -- you are either for him, or against him.
However, as bad as 2017 has been, I am actually optimistic about 2018 for several reasons. Firstly, we now know the Trump administration intimately. While his team are disciplined about riling up the left and lying to the public, they are chaotic and dangerously stupid. His administration is filled with fourth rate hacks with little experience in government and next to no political acumen. Trump gets shockingly bad advice from his staff (when he listens to them), and his inability to focus on anything has handicapped him badly throughout his first year in office. This has meant that Trump has been unable to pass much of anything -- no Muslim ban, no Obamacare repeal, no transgender ban in the military and no wall on the Mexican border. His first 12 months in office have consisted of legislative disaster after disaster. The damage Trump has caused, while extensive, could have been far worse if he'd had the slightest bit of political acumen.
The same lack of ability has led to the complete destruction of America's reputation as the world's leading super power. On the international stage, Trump has been an utter disaster. He is no longer taken seriously by Europe, China or Russia and the world has learned to basically ignore everything he says. This is not an ideal situation for the United States but it limits the immediate damage Trump can do with a careless tweet.
This doesn't mean Trump isn't a serious liability, but there is a pattern to his behavior that is now entirely predictable. The net effect of Trumpism has basically been the massive resurgence of the Left, a highly motivated women's movement and an unprecedented global awakening. Trump is pushing the world to the brink, and the world is pushing right back.
The Republican Party is rightly terrified about its prospects in 2018 as they stand to lose both the House and the Senate in the midterms -- a previously unthinkable scenario only made possible by Trump. After pandering to Trump's insanity, passing tax cuts that will decimate the poor, and backing an alleged pedophile for the Senate in Alabama, the party of family values is now a shambolic mess that may never regain its stature. This plays right into the Democratic Party's hands and the political pendulum is about to swing back hard if they can get their act together. This is of course a bit "if" -- the Left is still fractured and obsessed with refighting the 2016 primary, but it is in much better shape than the GOP moving into 2018. The stakes for this year are incredibly high, and the resistance cannot afford to slip up at any point. The maps for both the House and the Senate are not straightforward, and while the climate favors Democrats now, a lot can happen in a year.
Trump has also shown alarming authoritarian tendencies, and should he shut down the Mueller probe there is no telling what could happen. The country is in unchartered territory already, and if there is anything we have learned from the past year, it is that there is no limit to what Trump is capable of saying or doing. While Fox News and Breitbart would like you to believe that this is left wing hysteria, Trump is a genuine threat to democracy in America and those who fail to recognize it are sleepwalking into a deadly trap. Speaking with Nicole Wallace on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" right wing commentator William Kristol had this to say about Trump's twitter released transgender military ban:
"He thinks it's a dictatorship," said Kristol. "He thinks he wakes up, decides that we should expel 2,400 people from the military. And that that's gonna happen. As if there's no uniform code of military justice, there aren't ways that you have to discharge people, that people don't have rights . . . The transgender thing in a way is very small, but it's deeply revealing about Trump."
If William Kristol fears for American democracy, then so should you.
As far as the Banter is concerned, we are going to be here every step of the way. We won't let up on Trump, Breitbart, Fox News or any other outlet attempting to distort reality and subvert democracy. Our aim is to provide clear, concise commentary on the Trump administration and the GOP, and arm our readers with a deeper understanding of what is happening to America and its institutions. We are aiming to grow our small team to include new talent while strictly maintaining our rigorous editorial standards, so expect to hear from us a lot more in the coming months. The Bantercast will be ramping up, and we have some surprises in store too, so we are expecting a very strong 2018.
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Here's to great 2018 Banterheads!
Ben and the team at Banter