“These are the times that try men’s souls…” – Thomas Paine
I do not believe I am alone thinking that 2016 was one of the worst years ever. It started out with such promise. The Bernie Sanders campaign was kicking off in high gear, people from all walks of life were feeling the Bern, people were energized and momentum was being gained.
On the Republican side, all the candidates were nonsensical and argumentative and the debates were meaningless and void of coherent substance. But through March and April, the super Tuesday’s and the primaries were shaping up into something less than positive. Bernie was losing ground although making some strong showings and Trump was emerging as the leader of the clown train. In April, Rhode Islanders saw that the establishment was losing out to the “fringe” candidates. Bernie’s Rhode Island victory was astounding, much to Gina Raimondo and the RI Democratic establishment’s chagrin, and Trump’s win, although predicted, was none-the-less surprising. As the primaries and caucuses ended and the winners were determined, the American people knew their fate.
On the Democratic side, the establishment won out. Clinton was “our” candidate. The Bernie people in RI and across the country were not accepting and became disenchanted with the party and politics in general. There was still the unlikely hope that those “damn emails” would cost Clinton, or that the Wikileaks revelations were going to change the game. Oh boy, did we ever want that last minute miracle. At the DNC in Philadelphia, we Bernie delegates were hopeful, but we left disillusioned, disgusted and without a candidate to represent us.
A month earlier in June, the Republican National Convention was held, void of substance and without direction. With no last minute convention histrionics, their leader was confirmed. I, for one, was sure that Romney or some other Republican would become the victor… anyone but Trump. But Trump won and it was clear that the least qualified candidate in Republican or Democratic history would be the nominee.
After the convention and towards the end of summer another race was taking shape. The race against the Dakota Access Pipeline. #NoDAPL was starting to trend. The Native Americans of the Dakotas and across the country were ‘re-occupying” their rightful territory. They were protesting the illegal land grab by the oil company that wanted to build a pipeline under their sacred water, the Missouri River. #WaterIsLife was the war cry and people throughout the country and the world were listening, including our progressive hero Bernie Sanders.
Back home in RI, the war against the environment was also heating up. In July, the Governor made her one and only appearance in Burrillville. She listened to the concerns of the people regarding the proposed power plant, and boy did she hear it. Invenergy, the company that wants to build the power plant, continues to force their will on the people of Burrillville and the entire state. Suddenly our own water issue was becoming center stage. Invenergy had no source for their one million gallons a day project, and they would do anything to get it. This fight will continue into 2017. To this day our so-called environmental champion, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, refuses to take a stand on the Burrillville project. The January 6th meeting of the Woonsocket City Council where public comment will be heard is definitely one not to miss.
Other land grabs were occurring in 2016, with Citizens Bank gleefully leveling over 100 acres of land near the Audubon Society’s backyard and the Smithfield/Johnston line. Little to no opposition against the project materialized The gains for RI will be practically none, but with only $145.2 billion dollars in net worth, Citizens demanded and received a large corporate welfare package to stick around. And the project made a great photo op for our so-called Democratic leadership.
In the fall, the RI Department of Human Services failed miserably with their roll out of our brand-spanking-new, state-of-the-art Human Resources website. Designed to speed up the process, it has been nothing but a nightmare for the neediest members of our state. The lack of leadership by Governor Raimondo on this issue is inexcusable and she refuses to take ownership. But boy, when it comes to economic development and shelling out taxpayer dollars for promised jobs it’s all about her. Hopefully, with the likes of Johnson & Johnson, GE Sciences & Wexford-CV Properties there may actually be some job creation if the money drain doesn’t bankrupt the state first.
As the end of the year drew closer Rhode Island and the rest of the country was becoming increasingly restless with the way the Presidential contest was shaping up, the MSM (Mainstream Media) revealed itself as a corporate tool. The few debates that aired barely mentioned a word about climate change, income inequality, corporate greed, homelessness, the Black Lives Matter movement or basically anything that really matters. But the whole world knew about the Podesta emails, Julian Assange, Wikileaks, the lackluster campaign of the Democratic chosen one, Hillary Clinton, and, of course, the Donald’s tweets. I suppose massive pipeline explosions are not sexy enough for the American public.
In November, the unthinkable happened. A completely unqualified, histrionic, bombastic, asshole was elected President. The Clinton machine failed the American people and took our Democracy with them. Our country will now be run by an egotistical megalomaniac and his chosen swamp monsters.
Fear set in with those on the left and the Democratic Party establishment, but the good Americans who were hoodwinked by Trump’s lies, exaggerations, and promises of “Make America Great Again” were all a flutter with his win. I am afraid it won’t take long for reality to sink in once all of the public’s “entitlements,” like Social Security, Medicare, Pensions, and the dreaded Obamacare, disappear.
Basically -WE ARE IN FOR IT, but this period may help unite the working class “rust-belt” with the elites of the coasts.
I am not going to hold back: I am despondent over the November 8 decision. In the back of my mind, I am convinced that Bernie would have won. The Greens, Independents, Progressives, moderate Republicans (if that is not an oxymoron) and yes, the entire Democratic establishment would have backed Bernie. We would have taken, PA, WI, OH, and easily taken MI. What a victory it would have been. Now we are literally facing Doomsday. Trump’s tweets will sound the downfall of the US unless he gets impeached first. But even then we will be left with Pence, also known as Godzilla, and the rest of his Death Eaters. But hey, the environment, The Bill of Rights and our Constitution are greatly overrated – who really needs them?
These are the times’ that try the souls of men, women, minorities, LGBTQ, environmentalists, Jews, Atheists, Muslims and Native Americans. Thomas Paine, if you hear me, on behalf of all sane Americans, I apologize! I know you are turning in your grave right now. Your book, Common Sense, should be read by one and all, and especially by President-elect, it hurts to say this… Donald Trump.
That is, if he can even read!
This is Lauren Niedel, your basic Jewish, left-wing, progressive, mad as Hell liberal, democratic socialist, longing for Bernie, malcontent, wishing you all a Happy Fricken New Year!