"Worst year ever." Yeah, everyone says it at the end of every year, but 2016, you were in a class of your own, unparalleled in suckiness by any year in recent memory. (As one of our friends remarked, "You can't compare apples to durian.") And while we all lived through the objectively worst year in Orlando's history, outside Central Florida the country and the world experienced crap happenings like the discovery of the Flint water crisis; terrifying videos of police killing citizens and citizens killing police; terror attacks in Nice, Baghdad and Brussels; Brexit madness; Russian hackers steering the American presidential election; the Dakota Pipeline standoff; and the ongoing horror in Syria. Not to mention that utter dick Ryan Lochte embarrassing us all at the Olympics.
Maybe we should've been paying more attention to that "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones, because this year is taking down the people, institutions and values we cherish faster than a few Freys taking down a banquet hall full of Starks. So many of us feel defeated, helpless in the face of an onslaught of ethical challenges on an unprecedented and staggering scale. How do you make sense of a world where you can't take anything for granted anymore (unrigged elections, friendly cops, constitutionally protected privacy, kindness to the poor)? How do you take a measured look back at the highs and lows of a year that felt like a long, steep slide down to the edge of a bottomless abyss?
Every day since Nov. 9 has brought a new, terrifying or bizarre development – sometimes both terrifying AND bizarre, like the announcement last week that Sylvester Stallone might head the National Endowment for the Arts. Is it true, we wonder; can that actually be true? Seems like a question we'll be asking daily for the next four years.
So, yes, this Year in Review is a long ride in the wah-mbulance. But if you're one of those glass-half-full types – if you can pull your head out of the sand long enough – feel free to check out the "Good things that happened in 2016" gallery going up this Friday. We gathered up as many as we could.
In the first week of the year, two incidents foreshadowed the campaign season to come. First, USA Today published an op-ed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on how Donald Trump would win because "voters have been choosing new ideas and new energy over the old formula of sheer time served in political office." (Doubly unfortunate and unknowingly prescient: The headline was "Donald Trump Has America's Pulse.") A day before that, Democratic National Committee chair and South Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave us a little taste of how the Dems would spend the next year: tripping over their own dicks with statements like "Here's what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided."
And up in Tallahassee, our lawmakers racked their tiny brains to kick off the year with gems like HB 865, a bill that "would make performing an abortion or operating an abortion clinic a first-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 30 years in prison"; HB 191, which would pre-empt local governments from doing anything to protect their communities from fracking; HB 1075, proposing to allow hunting, cattle grazing, timber farming and RV camping in Florida's protected parks and preserves; and a last-minute amendment to HB 7007, a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services bill, that would pre-empt counties from regulating the use or sale of polystyrene products – a ban on bans, if you will.