There are always those who at the end of each year proclaim it to be the worst one yet.
It’s a nostalgic yearning for the “good old days” that never were. We tend to romanticize the past while conveniently blocking out the negative.
But perhaps the cynics have a point about 2017.
In January, Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency, the first president elected without any sort of political or military experience or qualifications.
His first year in office has been quite disastrous, as many expected. From threatening to rip up NAFTA if negotiations with Canada and Mexico don’t go his way to a nuclear standoff with North Korea and needlessly provoking the Arab world with his declaration that the entirety of the contested city of Jerusalem belongs to Israel, his inexperience is glaring in the realm of foreign affairs.
Of course, there’s also the continuing investigation into his ties to Russia and allegations — yet to be fully substantiated — that his election campaign colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which has led to the arrest of four members of his campaign. This could lead to the downfall of his presidency, particularly if the Democrats win control of Congress in November 2018.
In Alberta, we’ve continued to experience the fallout from low oil prices and its economic effects.
Jason Kenney was elected leader of the PC party before receiving an overwhelming mandate to merge with the Wildrose from both parties, then was elected leader of the new United Conservative Party and won the recent Calgary-Lougheed byelection.
This is good news for fans of Kenney’s unabashedly partisan style of right-wing politics, but bad for those who want to see less of a U.S.-style two-party system of polarization.
Moving on from politics, there was also a spate of deaths of well-respected public figures this past year.
Most recently, the beloved Johnny Bower, former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender who hailed form the Prairies passed at the age of 93, hardly tragic as far as deaths are concerned, but still disappointing for those who grew up watching “The China Wall” on Hockey Night in Canada.
The suicide of singer Chris Cornell, the frontman for rock groups Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog, at 52 was equal parts shocking and tragic, particularly for fans of his remarkable vocal range.
Another highly-regarded musician, country singer Glen Campbell, died after a long and well-publicized battle with dementia. The documentary “I’ll Be Me” from 2014 captures his struggles during his final tour.
Speaking of celebrities, 2017 was also the year that exposed many public figures as sexual predators.
Film mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, as well as the longest-serving U.S. Congressman John Conyers, are but a sample of public figures whose careers were brought into question by well-documented allegations of sexual impropriety.
Time Magazine made the unconventional and correct decision to name all the courageous women who came forward with their experiences of abuse as the collective Person of the Year.
Oddly, Woody Allen, whose former stepson Ronan Farrow wrote extensive exposes of Weinstein in the New Yorker, is still working in Hollywood, despite well-publicized allegations of sexual abuse against Ronan’s sister, Dylan.
And the president himself, who boasted on tape about his proclivity for grabbing women’s genitals without consent, is still in power as of writing.
Maybe in future years 2017 will be regarded as the beginning of a genuine cultural shift in the way people in and out of power treat women.
That can only occur if Trump doesn’t get us all killed first.