2017: A Year in Review

This year was characterized by many high profile news stories, varying greatly in content and impact. Unusual among years between presidential and midterm elections, it was defined by politics, both those actually in Washington and the various movements for change. There were many negative stories, but these brought with them positives.

President Trump was inaugurated on January 20th, almost exactly one year ago, and the past year’s politics have been tumultuous. There were major news stories almost every day about conflict within the White House, or about how these conflicts extended to Congress and other politicians. Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Tom Price, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon were all both appointed and fired by Trump, who also fired Obama appointees James Comey and Sally Yates. New this year were Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter as president to aid his politics and to attack his enemies.

Unusually, a Democrat, Doug Jones, won the race for Alabama’s Senate seat, in one of the most unexpected news stories of the year. As was true of much of the politics this year, that race was plagued by scandal and was at the forefront of larger cultural battles about how to judge politicians and between the more extreme and more moderate extremes of the Republican party. The latter was also at the forefront of the clash in Charlottesville between white supremacists and other supporters of the Confederate States against a variety of other protesters.

2017 was a year of crises; the hurricane season was one of the worst in history, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastating the Caribbean (including the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Texas’s Gulf Coast. Although attempts to help recover the regions affected were heroic, these locations struggled throughout the year to rebuild with limited resources. There were also many tragedies in the U.S. which the country did little to respond to.

The #MeToo movement this year helped reveal the scale of the problem of sexual harassment in our society, which had previously not been publicized. Although it was a positive change, just how widespread the problems were, and how far up they went, shocked many.

This was the year during which the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a move which was met with concern by many climatologists. It was also, however, the year that all other UN member states joined.

Although many of the biggest news stories were overwhelmingly negative, it was not a purely bad year. The economy did better than had been expected, and this year was largely positive for foreign countries; in France, a new political, Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! party ended their country’s two-party system by winning the runoff elections.

2017 was a defining year in both our culture and politics. Although on first glance the year’s news looked bad, it may not have been as bad as it seemed. With that said, we can hope for 2018 to be better.