Jump into 2022, hope against all hope
As much as we can wish for something different, when we wake up on January 1, the world will be no different than it was on December 31. New Years Day is an illusory dividing line, and history doesn’t easily let go of its hold on us.
The horrific start to 2021 with the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 told us right away that we had not left behind the resentment and perils of the Trump years or the older debates about what it means to be. an American.
Nonetheless, on the surface there were encouraging signs of change. New President Joe Biden quickly put in place a big bailout that saved millions of Americans from poverty and kept the economy from rocking off a COVID-19 cliff. Months later, Biden’s massive infrastructure program promised to save bridges and roads from collapse and put millions of people to work. Over the summer, the pandemic appeared to recede. In August, we thought we had left the worst behind.
Now, however, we know that the coronavirus had some darker surprises in store for us. And we also learned that Trumpism did not fade with the end of the Trump presidency. In fact, it has become increasingly clear that Trump has always been a crass avatar for the impulses and resentments that run deep and long into the psyches of millions of Americans. As the old year turns to a new one, this paranoid and angry nationalism is a more formidable political force than ever.
The divisions that have existed in American society since the beginning of our political experience in the late 18th century will continue to rebuild in another year. As 2022 begins, the last words of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald still describe our condition of American community: “So we went on, boats against the tide, constantly dragged back into the past. ”
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