2017 was a year of transition and uncertainty for America. One of the most divisive presidential elections in American history was followed by an even more contentious debate about how to move forward.
With Republicans taking control of the White House and Congress, Democrats feared that the new administration and its allies would use their control to permanently overturn Roe v. Wade, cut funding for reproductive health services, and roll back other reproductive rights reforms.
For their part, many conservatives felt strongly that President Obama’s two terms had been marred by poor leadership and failed policies that had left the nation in much worse shape than when he took office. They believed that President-elect Trump would be a much better choice who could finally put America on a new path.
The threat posed by radical Islam is real, but extremists can’t be allowed to drive our national security agenda or dictate our response to these attacks. That’s why we must end the perpetual war as a policy and bring our military home.
We also need comprehensive immigration reform that ensures all people living here without documentation can pursue their dreams without being subjected to exploitation or persecution.
And while neither party has done us any favors lately about civil liberties, it’s encouraging to see some politicians begin challenging policies backed by just one side of the political spectrum instead of catering only to those on the other side.
What we’re reading
– The year’s most important books, from Carrie Fisher’s last tomes to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ path-breaking analysis.
– Two new books from writers at the top of their game make this a strong list of titles to consider over the holiday break.
– How to make sense of the many false narratives about the year that was 2017.
– The surprising story of how President Trump’s “Fake News” awards were won.
– The importance of reminders like these to keep you grounded in reality amid all the frenzy around the new year.
No Matter How You Feel, Get Out And Vote!
– Even as calls for voting rights swell, many Americans are not taking part in the upcoming elections. A new report finds that more than half the eligible voting population doesn’t show up at the polls. Despite the importance of having a voice in government, the main reasons people don’t vote aren’t usually related to voter registration policies or procedures, but rather personal reasons like lack of interest, procrastination, or feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of getting ready to vote in a new system.
– If eligible people don’t vote, the decisions made by those who do often have dire consequences for the entire country. This is especially true for political candidates who are unlikely to receive much media attention but have a huge impact on public policies that affect the lives of all Americans.
Six ways to fight back against hate
– First, remember that discrimination and hate are never acceptable. – Just like you would never tell someone to “go back to Africa” or “get out of my country,” you shouldn’t tell someone to “go back to Africa” or “get out of my country.”
– Second, don’t let yourself be silenced. Even if someone tells you that you should be careful how you talk about certain issues, it’s important to speak up.
– Third, be prepared to counter any hateful rhetoric with facts — and to do so in a respectful way. Bullies don’t respond well to personal attacks.
– Fourth, resist the urge to respond aggressively. No matter how much you might want to lash out, taking the high road is always the better option.
– Fifth, focus on solutions that are realistic and achievable. It’s easy to get caught up in grand, unrealistic ideas.
Finally, let’s talk about civil rights
– In the months since President Trump took office, he and the White House have repeatedly attacked the legitimacy of the democratic process and the news media. They’ve even suggested that members of their staff could be the next targets of this ongoing assault on democracy.
– The president has even suggested that citizens could end up being tried in “e-tribunals” that only look like real courts.
– These kinds of actions are not only threats to American democracy, but they’re also attacks on civil rights.
– Civil rights are the rights that protect all of us regardless of race, creed, or political affiliation.
– They include the right to vote, the right to protection from discrimination in the workplace, and the right to be heard in a court of law.
Resistance is Futile
– It’s easy to feel helpless amid the current climate of fear and hatred. But staying silent is not the answer.
– As the late writer David Langston Jr. once said, “You don’t stop the momentum of history with words. You do it by building a movement of people who care enough about the future to stand in the way of history.”
– There are many ways to get involved, from attending rallies to volunteering for local causes to joining a political party.
– One way that doesn’t get enough attention is voting.
Don’t Discard Your Digital Devices
– With so much focus on the new year, many people may be tempted to toss their old phones or laptops into the trash. But holding on to them could be a key to staying safe and connected in an increasingly dangerous world.
– If someone asks you to hand over your phone or laptop, be careful about doing so. You may not trust the person, even if they claim to be working for the government.
– However, if you do turn it over to someone you don’t trust, consider using a password manager to help protect your sensitive information.
– Password managers allow you to create complex passwords for each website using just one piece of information — such as a phrase or date — instead of remembering dozens of different passwords.