Josh Marshall, writing about the last two years:
Looking back over these two years I see some clarity. 2017 was the year we collectively had to pay the price for what happened in 2016, what we collectively did. This is my abiding memory of it, a daily forced march of dreck and awful that simply had to be endured because the key facts and events had already happened. Like a brutal hangover over after a party that went too far or, more aptly, the capture and abuse after an attack that was insufficiently prepared for or guarded against. There’s that bleak and morbidly hilarious joke about the guy who falls out of a 50 story building and gets asked how it’s going, as he flies by floor 25. “So far, so good!” That’s 2017. All of the awful unfolding was inevitable once the country had ingested the poison of Trumpism. The unique features of our constitutional system make the fact of the presidency, in many respects, an all or nothing proposition.
I think Marshall’s characterization of the year that just ended is a pretty good one. It is a clear improvement over the many “2017 wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been” takes I have seen over the past week.
It is true—2017 could have been a lot worse. We are not actively engaged in a nuclear war with anyone, nor are we in the midst of a full-on economic depression. However, lecturing people about how things haven’t turned out as badly as predicted ignores the fact that a big reason things didn’t turn out that badly is all the work people did to keep a lot of those terrible predictions from coming true.
It’s like riding out a hurricane in a shelter someone else built and then shouting at all the people who built the shelter about the rain really isn’t all that bad and you’re hardly getting wet at all.