So... 2016 sucked. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of us. As a result, many of us had starry eyes as we approached the end of the crappy year and neared the start of 2017. We had such prospects, such promise! Things were going to get better! Or... so we thought.
Well, 2017 isn't starting out to be the comeback year we were hoping for. In fact, it would seem that we're already on a clear trajectory for a worse 2017 than 2016 (or maybe worse than all of the twenty-teens). Some of the pessimism stems from political developments. But we're not just going to dig into American politics. We've got global crises right now that are so horrifying, it almost feels easier to brush them under the rug and look at cat videos rather than try to stop these terrible things that are happening.
Let's take a look at America, for example. A big problem with Americans right now is that they've lost their feeling of being relevant. The majority of American citizens that voted for Hillary Clinton feel that their opinions are being ignored by a government that "knows better." Meanwhile, those who voted for independent candidates they believed in felt their voice was wasted. And lastly, many of those that voted for Donald Trump were shocked when he went back on many of his campaign promises on day one of his presidency. Overall, Americans no longer believe that they have an impact on their country or how it is run. And that's also the way many people all over the planet feel -- and that's a big problem.
So while others believe there are so many reasons you should care about your world, the truth is, it often feels so much easier to give up on it given all the negativity everywhere. To reinforce that thought, here are fifteen of the most egregious acts of 2017 (so far).
15 When La La Land Actually Stole the Win
The stage is set. It's the night of the Oscars Awards. The casts of both Moonlight and La La Land are waiting anxiously to discover who won the best picture. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway have us on the edge of our seats, and... the winner is La La Land! The musical's cast takes the stage to celebrate, but quickly finds out... actually, Moonlight won. Though of course the cast who thought they had won was a bit miffed, the Moonlight cast quickly takes the stage for their awards.
Okay, sucky mistake. But you know what's really terrible about this? They ROBBED Moonlight of their celebratory moment for a movie about racial struggle winning over a musical movie with little cultural relevance. Then Jimmy Kimmel went on to tell the La La Land producers, "Well, you deserve one too!" thus effectively diminishing the fact that Moonlight was deemed superior and deserved to own the moment! We're simply aghast that the cast, directors, and producers of Moonlight were so disrespected at a moment they so deserved to be honored.
14 Ft. Lauderdale Airport Shooting
On January 7, a man named Esteban Santiago walked off his plane and into the Ft. Lauderdale airport baggage claim, where he picked up one bag. From it, he pulled a handgun and opened fire on the travelers. He killed five people, injuring more, and shook the nation with just how easy it was to commit an act of terror. He claims he did it in the name of ISIS, though there's more to this story than what reached the headlines.
Esteban is a United States citizen and was a member of the Alaskan National Guard for nine years, even serving in Iraq. And he tried to reach out for help. In November of last year, he contacted the FBI to tell them he was "hearing voices" and that a US Intelligence Agency was directing him towards watching ISIS videos. However, his plea for psychological help was sadly denied. So when Americans solely blame foreign terrorist sects for tearing their country apart, the blame (at least some of it) is clearly misplaced. A substantial part of the fault is the United States's, which should be taking care of veterans instead of denying them the help they need.
13 The Actual War With China Waiting to Begin
Chinese and American relations have been spotty for decades, since before Nixon visited the country. It's always been rough, but it's still been manageable, as America has always had a good Chief of Staff and a good Secretary of State to balance out the tense relationship with the powerhouse of a country. Well, that's not really the case anymore. Weeks after Trump was elected, he took a phone call from Taiwan's president -- which set the Chinese off (China and Taiwan aren't exactly chill with each other, you know). The RAND Corporation actually conducted a very elaborate study predicting that a war with China is not only possible but downright likely in the near future. All either party needs at this point is a volatile leader (check), a misconstrued threat (check), an incentive to strike first (check), and to make the call. Hold on to your seats, kids; we're just getting started.
12 The Trampling of Freedom of the Press
One of the foundations of this country is freedom of speech. This was so important that it was made the first amendment on the bill of rights: the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and of the press. That means that journalists and reporters are allowed to talk about their leaders and current events however they so choose, so long as they're telling the truth. However, Trump has so far limited what press agents are able to report live from his meetings at press conferences by elbowing out reporters from CNN, MSNBC, and other major news and media outlets. Really, all he's kept around are the media outlets that are incredibly, radically conservative and are always in praise of his "wonderful" work. He's also trying to open up the libel laws to make it easier to sue media outlets that say negative things about him even when they're actually telling the truth.
11 Hate Crimes Are Through the Roof
Hate crimes have been around for centuries, and it can be shocking just how violent and hateful some people, specifically some Americans, can be. Well, actually, scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists seems to believe that as time has ticked on, the world has been getting less and less violent. So why is it then that there seems to have been a spike in hate crimes all over the United States around the time of Trump's election and inauguration? Well, it seems that a portion of Americans who are in radical support of Donald Trump happens to be all about white supremacy and returning to the "essential values" of their country (you know, no rights for women, black people, people of non-Christian denominations... essentially, no rights for anyone but straight, white men). This group seems to have felt empowered by Trump's rise to power and has used that power to try to squelch others.
10 Threatening War With North Korea
Here's the thing: America has done this before. Don't you remember that the United States had a war with Korea back in the fifties? It was terrible, and guess what? It didn't fare all too well. The United States pretty much helped South and North Korea to divide and left it that way, fearing that an all-out war between democratic and communist regimes would consume the world. So America backed off and said, "Cool. You do you; we're gonna do us."
Except America isn't really getting off of their case! North Korea has nuclear weapons. Okay. But so does America. North Korea has an insane leader. Okay. The United States is getting there. The two countries both hate each other. So maybe, just maybe, they should be trying to talk their issues out? Negotiate a nuclear policy? Or Tillerson can just threaten preemptive military action against the North Koreans; that works too... (Note the heavy, HEAVY sarcasm. That strategy doesn't work; that absolutely will not work. Good God, America's going to be at war with China and North Korea at the same time...).
9 Proposed Elimination of Arts Programs
Donald Trump just released his budget recently, and we've got to be honest, it's kind of downright atrocious. The man and his cabinet of advisers seem to fail to take into account how America has been growing and improving over the past fifty years -- one such way being through the inclusion of artistic and creative programming brought by the National Endowment for the Arts. Instead of supporting their effort, Trump intends to entirely cut the agency's $148 million budget, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities's $148 million budget and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's $445 million budget. (Don't forget that's he's also cutting $230 million from the Institute for Library and Museum Services). If all goes according to his plan, it seems there will pretty much be no forms of arts education readily available to the public. How is that productive? Not that education is a big priority of this administration to begin with...
8 Appointment of Betsy DeVos
Donald Trump has made a lot of... well, let's call them interesting choices since he's been inaugurated as the America's forty fifth president. Some have been alright, tolerable, not the hardest things to stomach; others have been downright despicable, ignorant, childish, stupid, and, plainly, egregious. One such decision was his appointment of Betsy DeVos as the United States Secretary of Education. Why is this such a bad move? Oh, let us count the ways...
First of all, the woman has zero experience or training in the fields of education. She's actually never even attended a public school in her life! (Neither have her children!) She's also a strong advocate for privatizing education, which is easy to advocate for when you've been handed a $20,000/year education every year of your life since kindergarten, an amount most of us plebes can't afford. In fact, she constantly lobbies against public and charter schools and has never made education a priority. She is also a strong advocate for Gay Conversion Therapy (which is a proven ineffective and psychologically damaging therapy), racial segregation, and she cannot use proper grammar in a tweet to save her life.
7 Proposed Trade Tariffs With China
One of the big planks in Trump's political platform when he was running for president was that he would bring jobs, money, and trade back to America by imposing a ridiculously high tariff on goods from China. He believes that by doing that, he'd not only be helping Americans get the jobs that have been sent overseas back, but he'd be helping to clean up China and their not-so-wonderful treatment of their blue-collar workforce. Yeah, okay... but you know who all of that affects the most? The American consumer that will have to pay 45% more for their smart phones, children's toys, clothing, and bathroom goods. Let's be real: China's not going to change its act -- ESPECIALLY if it's some American telling them to. You'd think he'd have more sense than to make life harder for everyone by doing that, but hey, it's Trump, so you never know. Of course this is going to infuriate China, but it's not like he hasn't already been doing that...
6 Obamacare Is Being Flushed
Barack Obama had to fight so hard to get the Affordable Care Act up and running. He had to fight a Republican congress, a nervous constituency, and all of the other barriers involved. But he finally managed it, and you know what? It WORKED. Don't you dare believe for a second all the bullshit being flung around that says it made people get insurance they didn't want. (Oh yeah, people hate being able to afford healthcare when they need it) Or that it was unnecessary. (Do you realize how many people are losing healthcare under Trump? Twenty million). Hell, a lot of people were canceling their previous healthcare plans to hop onto the Affordable Care Act because it was so effective! Obama had figured out healthcare; it was his grand legacy! And now Trump is sweeping it out from under millions and millions of Americans who desperately need it!
5 Neil Gorsuch Sucks
First of all, Donald Trump should have never nominated the replacement for the recently vacated seat in the Supreme Court. The prior judge died while Barack Obama was still in office, and anyone who can read can see that the constitution designates that appointment to the sitting president at the time: Barack Obama. Instead, we got this guy's pick.
Neil Gorsuch is a fairly young (comparatively) conservative judge from the state of Colorado. One important fact about Neil is that he doesn't believe in a "living" constitution; he believes that we should be interpreting the constitution how Thomas Jefferson did, or George Washington did, or anyone from around the time it was written did. Which means, sure, anyone can have guns! And of course your wife is your property! He's actually said that courts must "focus backward, not forward... not decide cases based on their own moral convictions or policy consequences they believe might serve their country best." Um, okay. He literally wants to take us back to colonial times. Great.
4 Our Environment Is in More Trouble Than Ever and Nothing Is Being Done to Save It
In October of last year, just before Trump was controversially elected into office by the electoral college, atmospheric carbon levels were dangerously high. In fact, they exceeded the tipping point so much that scientists designated the period as an irreversible point of no return. Since then, we've only been increasing our levels of carbon dioxide. This means that we've essentially already signed away the demise of our planet, that thousands of species will die off, that sea levels will rise as the oceans warm, that glaciers will vanish from the face of the Earth, and that someday, likely sooner rather than later, our planet will die -- and it's entirely our fault. We were moving in the right direction with Obama as president, cutting down on carbon emissions and preventing offshore drilling, but what has Donald Trump proposed to do as of late with his recent proposed budget? Cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency. Great.
3 The Travel Ban
In pursuit of national security, Donald Trump issued a travel ban back in January barring admittance for people of certain countries to come to the United States. The limit was placed indefinitely on refugees from Syria, but also temporarily on citizens from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. What this really means, when you look at these countries and their citizens, is that Donald Trump implicitly declared, "No more Muslims are allowed here." It was infuriating, terrible, and horrific. People who had flown into the United States were turned back as soon as they got off their planes and were made to fly back to their countries, even if they were flying into war zones. One woman stranded in an airport even attempted suicide by pill overdose to avoid having to go back to her home country when all of her family and loved ones were already in the United States. Though the judicial branch has so far called out Trump on the executive order, saying it was unconstitutional, he didn't care and ordered plans to be carried out regardless. Um, excuse us -- that sounds like a totalitarian leader right there.
2 Cutting Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a program in the United States that brings food to those who can no longer get it for themselves. What that involves is people driving to these disabled and elderly people and bringing them nutritious meals that can help them nurse themselves back to health. But the White House is cutting this program because it is "irrelevant." They claim that it's irrational to ask the average American to pay for people to have food. But at the same time, they think that it's perfectly fine for the average American to pay for a radically high defense budget to afford all the executive orders Trump is signing (including a budget that already far surpasses the amount spent by France, Germany, Russia, India, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and China COMBINED). So, what's the new plan to replace Meals on Wheels? Oh, they don't have one. We're just going to let these people starve to death and rot in their homes. Fantastic.
1 Actually, All of Trump's Proposed Budget
It is EGREGIOUS! He simply doesn't understand how to run a nation -- that much is absolutely, painfully clear. There are a lot of programs with funding being cut ridiculously low, and he's defunding eighty programs all together, including the EPA (hope we don't destroy our planet), NASA (hope we don't need to find a new planet), the Institute of Peace (hope we don't jump into World War Three), the Legal Services Administration (hope we don't sh*t on the underprivileged classes too much), the Chemical Safety Board (hope you can figure out how to save the planet on your own), and so many others. It just makes no sense! IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE! And it's all to fund his ridiculous military and national security budgets through which he's planning to build walls and send everyone away while he hides in his tower! He has no idea how to run America properly! Buckle up! It's going to be a long four years.