2017 was an odd year. As the Miami Herald‘s Dave Barry put it in his annual year-end wrap up, 2017 “was a year so surreal, so densely populated with strange and alarming events, that you have to seriously consider the possibility that somebody — and when we say ‘somebody,’ we mean ‘Russia’ — was putting LSD in our water supply.”
LSD in the water supply would explain a lot of the weirdness, and there’s an awful lot of it that needs to die along with 2017. [Note for the easily offended: I’m speaking metaphorically here. If you really think I’m advocating killing anyone, you need less time on the internet and more time with an experienced therapist.]
So now that 2017 is dead, here are 17 things that need to die with it and leave us alone in 2018:
1. Roy Freaking Moore. It was bad enough when he refused to concede on election night, or afterwards when it was clear the margin of victory was beyond the threshold for an automatic recount and he sent out a fundraising appeal to his supporters claiming there were “numerous cases of voter fraud.” Even after the Alabama Secretary of State certified the election results, Moore still refused to accept reality.
Let’s remember, even if you ignore the multiple women who accused him of sexual assault and just all-around creepiness, and the dozens of corroborating witnesses, Roy Moore was a train wreck. Years of sexist, bigoted, all-around nutty comments.
Conservatives are supposed to respect the rule of law; he was removed from the bench — not once, but twice — for refusing to follow orders of superior courts. Yes, the Republican majority in the Senate is now one vote narrower, but we should breathe a sigh of relief that every single Republican Senator won’t have to spend the next few years with reporters demanding that they react to whatever obnoxious, loony thing Senator Roy Moore of Alabama said that week. That’s a win. On that note…
2. Media demanding Republicans react to Trump tweets. OK, we get it. Trump posts some absolutely bonkers stuff on Twitter. So bonkers, that when he tweets something gracious that’s almost newsworthy in itself. But if we’ve learned anything in this first year of the Trump presidency, it’s that no one can control Trump’s tweets. He’s going to post whatever random boast or complaint wandered through his noggin at that moment, 280 characters at a time.
I’m realistic enough to know it’s foolish to expect the media to not cover Trump’s tweets. I enjoy writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Trumpified Twitter, and I won’t deny that entertainment to anyone. But demanding that Republican elected officials “respond” or “react” to Trump tweets is oh-so-tiresome. Most of the time, they catch some unsuspecting Congressman in the hallway before he’s even had a chance to read whatever the tweet was.
Here, media, I’ll save you the work of actually wandering the hallways of the Cannon building: the Congressman doesn’t necessarily support or agree with or even understand what Trump tweeted, but he’s still going to vote for the bill because it’s a Republican bill. Save your outrage over the obnoxious tweets for the guy who actually tweeted them.
3. Useless hashtag activism. One year into the Trump presidency, and what have all the liberals earnestly tweeting that they’re part of The #Resistance accomplished? Nothing tangible, but whining on the internet seems to be the foundation of our political system now. The more offensive use of this slacktivism is when people seem to think that tweeting the hashtag du jour is actually going to #BringBackOurGirls or #SaveThisAdorableEndangeredCritter. It’s not.
4. “Open secrets” about sexual predators. One of the most frustrating parts of the series of stories that emerged in 2017 about sexual predators in various industries was how their behavior was an “open secret.” In virtually all of these cases, the predatory behavior went on for years, if not decades.
As I wrote last month regarding the sexual scandals at the Texas Capitol, I don’t blame the victims for this. These situations remain “open secrets” for so long because the victims aren’t supported. The culture that allows these “open secrets” to fester tells victims not to be troublemakers and makes it difficult for them to find work if they dare to speak up:
The tide has slowly been starting to turn regarding sexual harassers and abusers finally facing real consequences — Harvey Weinstein kicked out of his production company, Kevin Spacey fired and his roles recast, Sen. Al Franken expected to resign this week — but what hasn’t happened is any real action to protect the women making the accusations.
A woman who rejects her boss when he propositions her for sex isn’t “difficult.” A young reporter isn’t a “troublemaker” if she objects when a legislator gropes and forcibly kisses her. Staffers aren’t “whining” when they get annoyed that a lobbyist constantly makes sexist, degrading comments. An actress isn’t “untalented” because she refuses a massage from Harvey Weinstein.
You want to support women? Join in TIME’s celebration of the “Silence Breakers”? Fight against the culture that allows such harassment and abuse to fester unchallenged for decades?
…Then make a real effort to hire and promote the women making these accusations.
Because until we stop punishing the victims, the predators will continue to attack.
5. Fidget spinners. Kids don’t need fidget spinners. They need recess. A school in Fort Worth, Texas experimented with increasing their students’ recess to four 15-minute periods, for a total of an hour of outside free play time. A Today story about the program noted that increased recess time gave the students multiple benefits, including increased test scores, better attentiveness in class, fewer discipline problems, more creativity, and even better friendships from the extra play time together:
“You start putting 15 minutes of what I call reboot into these kids every so often and… it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” said Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor at Texas Christian University who created the project.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, calling recess “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” Studies show it offers important cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits, yet many schools are cutting down on breaks to squeeze in more lessons, which may be counterproductive, it warns.
6. Democrats claiming that Republican legislation will kill people. From the 2012 ad showing a Paul Ryan-look alike literally shoving Granny off a cliff to their panic attacks over any discussion of repealing Obamacare to the latest whinging over the tax bill, the Democrats love to assign a death toll to Republican policies.
Just look at the nonsense over Net Neutrality. According to Twitter, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was changing the policy because he was the puppet of big internet companies who were going to destroy the internet as we know it and charge you $10 per tweet and blood will run in the streets and all sorts of horrors. It’s been a few weeks since and somehow we all survived. AOL Instant Messenger is dead, but the rest of the internet still lives.
The hysteria was even worse over the tax bill. To be honest, this “boy who cried murderous Republican wolf” charade the Democrats love to play makes them look nuts and less likely for sensible voters to take them seriously, but I can’t see that it’s productive for our long term political discourse.
7. SWATting, which does actually kill people. Yes, less fuss over legislation, which doesn’t kill people, and more over horrible acts that actually do kill people. Patterico has done an excellent job covering the tragic story of Andrew Finch, the Wichita, Kansas father of two who was killed by police after a Los Angeles man “SWATted” him, calling in a false police report claiming there was a violent crime in process at his home (see here, here, here, and here).
Finch died because of a petty dispute between two video game players he didn’t even know — the SWATter apparently messed up the address of his real target — but even if the address had been correct, SWATting is a despicable, cowardly act of evil. As Patterico wrote:
If the evidence is there to show the suspect made the call, I hope he is charged with murder. The act of making a SWATting call creates a high risk of death, and the person making the call knows it, and either intends that death or doesn’t care. If someone dies as a result, that’s murder, any way you slice it.
I’m generally a supporter of criminal justice reform and reluctant to invite increased government regulation, but there isn’t any valid or productive purpose to SWATting. At minimum, its goal is to intimidate and harass the victim; at worst, cause serious injury and even death. State legislatures should seriously consider passing bills to clarify that making SWATting calls is a felony, and hold SWATters legally responsible for the damages their callous acts cause.
8. Frivolous attacks on Trump family members. It’s no secret I’m not a fan of Trump, but the intense outrage the media and the left dream up to attack various members of his family is just ridiculous.
Melania Trump was a model. She frequently wears high heeled shoes. This shouldn’t be news, but somehow it made headlines when she wore a pair of black stilettos as she boarded Air Force One when she and the President came to Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
No one seriously thought she was going to be trekking through mud and floodwaters, but a flurry of headlines attacked her for her “inappropriate” footwear. She apparently changed to white sneakers mid-flight, but few bothered to cover that little detail.
A similarly stupid story happened when Ivanka Trump took a photo of her husband and her young son during a boating trip and there was another boat flying a Confederate flag in the background of one photo.
There are plenty of legitimate causes for concern with the Trump presidency. Imagining controversies about his family members is unproductive.
9. Richard Spencer. The two causes these “alt-right” weirdos love to celebrate — the Confederacy and the Nazis — were both losers. Spencer’s hateful rhetoric has gotten him punched in the face, and he can’t draw a crowd even with a lot of media help, so hopefully he’ll get the hint and just go away in 2018.
If not, I advocate for peaceful protests everywhere he goes like giant posters showing him getting punched in the face and reminding him that his favorite band hates him. (Remember, actually punching Nazis might get you arrested for assault. But since someone else already punched Spencer, you can just have fun mocking him with the photos and video from that previous punching.)
10. People not understanding how the First Amendment works. As the xkcd comic so aptly put it, free speech means the government can’t stop you from speaking. It doesn’t mean that the rest of us are required to listen to your speech (or, as liberals all too often seem to want, that we have to sponsor your speech).
In one of the more recent examples, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) dramatically declared last month that she would not be “silenced” when Trump tweeted about her, a laughable claim considering she was complaining about being silenced while speaking on national television.
11. Hysteria about Hollywood scripts becoming reality. The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t real. It’s not going to become real. The majority of voters in America are women, and they aren’t going to vote for it. The protesters stomping around the U.S. Capitol and state legislative buildings in those red gowns and white hoods look like morons.
Trump also isn’t Voldemort, Joffrey Baratheon, or whatever TV or movie villain liberals claim he is to add some variety to their tweets calling him Literally Hitler.
12. Blaming the NRA for shootings. No one likes seeing innocent lives lost, but the NRA gets vilified every time some criminal or mentally ill person does something terrible with a gun. Never mind that none of the mass shooters last year were connected to the NRA. In fact, the only connection the NRA had to any of these tragedies was Stephen Willeford, the certified NRA instructor who grabbed his AR-15 and stopped the Sutherland Springs church shooting.
The false attacks lobbied at law-abiding gun owners are in direct contradiction to the facts. For more on this, see this article I wrote looking at the statistics the Texas Department of Public Safety keeps regarding crimes committed by concealed carry permit holders (Spoiler alert: it’s a really, really low number.)
13. Steve Bannon. Hopefully the humiliation of finding one of the very few ways a Republican can lose in Alabama will chill any enthusiasm for Bannon as a political mastermind. The Republican Party has enough troubles adjusting to Trump and Bannon is doubling down on the divisiveness, backing candidates like Roy Moore and Paul Nehlen. No elected official should feel entitled to their seat, but declaring “war” on every single member of the Congressional GOP (except Ted Cruz) is not an effective governing strategy. He doesn’t want Republicans to win; he wants anyone who won’t toe the national populist line to lose. Republican control of Congress is irrelevant.
Also, anyone dumb enough to insult the University of Alabama while in Alabama shouldn’t be regaled as a genius.
14. Blaming climate change for natural disasters. Do you know why Florida gets hit by hurricanes?
It’s not because Trump doesn’t want to be a part of the Paris Agreement.
It’s because the state has a subtropical and tropical climate and is surrounded by ocean on every side except the northern border. Those nice warm ocean waters are basically hurricane food, because the water’s temperature during hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) makes it easier for the water to evaporate and get pulled into the storm’s rotation and then recondense into clouds and rain.
Drive a Prius if you really want to, but don’t feel like you’re causing hurricanes if you don’t.
15. Republicans sucking at communications strategy. Congress passed a tax bill that gives a tax cut for the majority of Americans, but most people seem unaware (hopefully not our RedState readers, who should have a more accurate idea of what the bill actually does).
We expect the Democrats to lie — see number 6 above — and say Republican bills will shove Granny off the cliff and leave us all starving and dying in the streets, and most reporters are never going to bother reading pages and pages of legislation, which means that it’s up to the Republicans to develop and execute smart messaging strategies.
The tax bill messaging was a convoluted mess. One of the biggest examples was how an early version of the bill included major reductions in the adoption tax credit. This move was rightfully and loudly condemned by conservatives, as being in opposition to the GOP’s purported pro-life stance and moreover, not even making fiscal sense, as the proposed increased tax revenue was minor, and would be offset by longer term costs from leaving children in foster care instead of being adopted.
The Republicans did come to their senses and restored the adoption tax credit before the bill was finalized, but not until the bill had weathered sharp criticism in the press, including blistering attacks from the right.
Add in other easily-demonized cuts, and you’ve got Republicans drawing significant bad press they must spend political capital to fight, all for very little. One example was the tax deduction teachers can take for buying school supplies, an issue that got increased attention when actress Jenna Fischer tweeted about it. It turned out that Fischer was incorrect and based her tweet on an earlier draft of the bill, but as always happens, her earlier tweet got more attention than her correction.
At this point, Republicans should be able to anticipate the typical criticisms, and have a better plan to counter them. The Democrats’ messaging machine has been putting out well-coordinated communications labelling this tax bill as a handout for billionaires that will murder poor people (again, see number 6).
16. The pro-life movement’s obsessive focus on judges. Yes, Justice Gorsuch was an excellent addition to the Supreme Court, and conservatives were justified in cheering Justice Don Willett’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Even this NeverTrumper has no problem saying many of Trump’s judicial nominees have been excellent.
But pro-lifers should not think these new judges, or any judges to come, will be sufficient to save babies.
The brutal reality of women agonizing over that choice is that they don’t care what Scalia wrote in some case opinion a decade ago, or what Gorsuch might write in an upcoming case.
They’re worried about far more practical concerns. Do I have a job? How well does it pay? Do I have health insurance? Is the baby’s father supportive? Is he stable and not dealing with addiction, criminal, or violence problems? Do I have a safe place to live? And so on.
We would save more babies than any judge’s ruling ever could if pro-life activists simply stood outside abortion clinics and offered to help pregnant women access the many charities and government benefits that can help provide a safe, healthy, and stable environment for them. Because no matter how we restrict abortion, even if it is one day outlawed, some women will still consider ending their pregnancies if they’re desperate enough.
Supporting women is the caring, conservative, and Christian answer to reducing the number of abortions.
17. Hating people for having different political beliefs. We are a politically divided country and are going to remain so for the foreseeable future. But each side condemning the other as harshly as we so often do threatens to undermine our ability to functionally govern ourselves.
I have harsh criticisms for Democrats in this article, and I’ll have many harsh criticisms of them in the future, I’m sure. That doesn’t mean that I believe all Democrats are trying to ruin America. It is possible to disagree with someone’s ideas and not accuse them of being evil or stupid, “libtards” or “rethuglicans,” or whatever other silly insults people create.
“But the liberals always demonize us!” you might say. I have no illusions that they’re going to stop making ads showing Paul Ryan shoving Granny off cliffs, but this is one case where stooping to their level is a losing strategy. We aren’t going to convince the liberal die-hards with memes calling them snowflakes and terrorists, but we do risk turning off moderate Democrats and independents.
This isn’t saying we should shy away from criticizing the left. As I mentioned in #15, failing to aggressively pursue a smart communications strategy is a serious flaw that threatens to derail GOP successes. And as it’s been said many times before, frustration over Republican weaknesses — real or perceived — is part of what made Trump attractive to Republican primary voters.
But can’t we try to find the Goldilocks spot between allowing the Democrats free reign to frame the narrative unchallenged and resorting to Trump’s style of twitter tantrum insults?
Happy 2018, RedStaters. Here’s hoping it’s less stupid than 2017.
Photo via ecodallaluna via Flickr.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.