2017 Rewind: A Prelude to the Midterms

2017 rewind, midterms, Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff’s run in a Georgia special election was one of the most-watched races of 2017. It was certainly memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. The Democrats had a chance to gain a head of steam before the 2018 midterms but Ossoff’s loss was truly deflating. The image was taken via a screenshot. (Video)

For this timeline, I would like to first look at the fallout from the 2016 general election. Then I will look at the 2017 elections, in order to provide a greater context for the midterms and for Democratic successes and failures in the age of Trump.

As I discussed in my Rift on the Left series, the Democrats had lost 1,042 seats across the country from 2009 to 2017, so the party had lots of ground to cover. The Democrats were provided a few openings in the first half of 2017, as Donald Trump plucked four congressional Republicans to join his cabinet. However, Democrats went 0 for 4 in the special elections where they tried to flip those seats.

The latter half of 2017 offered much more promise. As Democrats picked up in fundraising, individual candidates began to outraise Republicans. Also, November 2017 saw a host of Democratic and progressive victories across the country, even in places where Democrats were not expected to win. These victories gave Democrats a lot of momentum, which was met by a series of Republican retirements in Congress.

With that understood, let’s look at the events of late 2016 and the elections that occurred in 2017.

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These 2018 Midterms Are Tests Because They Will Be Hard

2018 midterms, Senate, House of Representatives, primaries, Democrats, Republicans
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is a Democratic hoping to unseat a Republican Senator this year. Specifically, he’s running against Sen. Ted Cruz in the general election. Here, O’Rourke can be seen at an event held for the 2016 President’s Leadership Council hosted by Inter-American Dialogue. Image via Flickr by Inter-American Dialogue. Some Rights Reserved.

The 2018 midterm elections are already underway, so I’d thought I’d keep a record of what has happened so far. I’d been thinking about doing something like this before, but my schedule was out of whack and I already passed up a chance to do something similar for 2016. Anyhoo, let’s take a look at the midterms from state to state and see how things are shaping up.

Note: I will need some time to catch up, but there have only been primaries in 10 states held so far. This post will be updated.

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September 11: Where We Were and Where We Are Now

Twin Towers-NYC

I remember September 11, 2001 clearly.

Sixteen years ago, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. The Twin Towers were the first structures targeted.

The scene was jarring. At around 8:46 am in NYC, the Northern tower was hit. The south tower would be hit at 9:03 am.

But the attacks didn’t stop there. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon. Then a third crash landed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I was not awake when the fits planes hit but someone alerted me to the news about the Twin Towers.

It was total chaos. No one understood what was happening and after the Pentagon was attacked, we expected even more to come, but the last attack was thwarted. George W. Bush, who was reading a story to Kindergarteners, was frozen when a Secret Serviceman whispered the news in his ear.

Oddly enough, Dick Cheney’s location was unknown. Just where was he?

On the television, there were scenes of people fleeing the burning building, but the most unfortunate people in the buildings had nowhere to escape. Some of them jumped from windows high up as the towers smoldered.

Unprecedented Terror

Within an hour, at 9:59 am, the south tower fell. It was followed by the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 am. Building 7 also fell much later in the day and other buildings in that complex suffered damage.

More importantly, 2,996 lives were lost. Among the victims were passengers of the airlines, diplomats and workers from around the world, and hundreds of first responders.

For a while, New York City looked like a war zone. Some compared the scenes to what a nuclear winter would look like.

This was a devastating attack, the largest act of terrorism on American soil. But in the following days, many of us allowed ourselves to set aside our differences and recognize that we were all citizens of the world. Americans in particular expressed a type of solidarity never seen since.

Bush’s Response

September 11, George W. Bush, first responders, ground zero, terrorism

By the time Dubya visited the area that came to be known as “Ground Zero,” many of us cheered him on when he said the following words in response to a first responder who yelled, “I can’t hear you!”

I can hear you. I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all us soon.

Bush’s words were met with cheers and chants of “USA! USA!”

Bush’s words were what many of us needed. We needed someone who showed leadership, reassured us, and gave a stern warning to the people responsible for that attack.

For all intents and purposes, this was uncharted territory. For so many young people, it marked the end of their innocence. For those who had heard and read about terrorism before, this was likely their first look at it up close.

At that moment, Bush had more trust than he previously had on Inauguration Day. He had more respect around the world than he ever had and he had a tremendous amount of political capital …

Part of what followed was the War on Terror.

The War on Terror

As we soon found out, the perpetrators of the attacks were operatives of a terrorist organization named Al Qaida. The network was created by Osama Bin Laden, a native of Saudi Arabia who had been an heir to a fortune, but lived in mountainous regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As it turns out, fifteen or sixteen of the hijackers on September 11 had also come from Saudi Arabia.

We had to respond, but how? Afghanistan had come to be known as the “Graveyard of Empires” and the Soviets had been bogged down when they made an incursion into that area — or so we believed.

Regardless, we felt that our military had to go. But there stood the Taliban, a regime that had given Al Qaida sanctuary in the 1990’s but refused to hand over the network’s senior leaders. The United States would have to fight the Taliban, too. And so the war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001.

At home, anxiety levels were raised as the military went abroad and people had to see their loved ones fight in a war many of us felt was justified. What we did not know was how long it would take — nor did we know that Iraq would serve as another stage in a global war on terror.

The Long-Term Effects of the September 11, 2001 Attacks

This war is currently in its 16th year and with each year, more and more people are questioning the efficacy of it. While most people will say they’d like to see an end to terrorism once and for all, the question remains: Can this be done with conventional fighting?

Whenever that question is asked, it might be met by silence or outright mockery. And often we are told to look at the next threat. Yesterday, it was Syria. Tomorrow, it might be North Korea. But we are already dealing with secret wars in Pakistan and parts of Africa …

The kids and many adults are growing weary.

Additionally, we are still dealing with the fear and mistrust of Muslims, at home and abroad. Now, a case can be made about vetting entrants into countries and every year we hear about attacks in Europe which have been carried out by those linked to militant Islamists. The United States (and Canada) have tough vetting standards as it is and many of our Muslims are fairly progressive in their views and peaceful. But the prejudice persists, often reinforced by news outlets …

These are some of the challenges we face today. What will be our way forward?


Are You Still Following News of the Russia Probe?

Russia probe, Donald Trump, James Comey
Did this guy somehow collude with Russia? I don’t know, but something’s off …

On April 24, I started a two-post series in which I discussed my overall view of the Russia probe that is currently dominating headlines in the United States. While I said I felt that the probe was a distraction (in terms of its focus), I felt there needed to be an investigation in order to finish vetting Donald Trump and some of his cohorts.

Now, while I might disagree with this probe’s focus, it has turned up some interesting events I could not ignore or refrain from sharing. Also, there have been some recent developments in regards to how this entire probe and suspicions are being reported.

That said, let’s discuss what this probe is about and how I plan to cover it.

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My Thoughts About the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Official program - Woman suffrage procession March 3, 1913 - crop

For today’s Write Anything Wednesday post, I just wanted to shoot from the hip a bit. I cannot make one of my posts like I did for Madam C.J. Walker or Sojourner Truth, but I am doing my own research with regards to feminism and the women’s suffrage movement.  And since today is International Women’s Day, I wanted to make a post about the women’s suffrage movement.

From what I’ve already read, the women’s suffrage movement alone was fairly complex. There were generally three phases of it and each had a “moderate” and “radical” faction. The part about the factions is what interested me the most.

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Let’s Dive into Women’s History Month! (WAW)


Like I did for Black History Month, I would like to dedicate this Write Anything Wednesday post to looking at the origin of Women’s History Month. (As it turns out, both February and March started on a Wednesday this year.)

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Sojourner Truth in Perspective

Sojourner Truth, Black History Month, abolitionist, activist, women's rights activist, faith

As I was compiling a list of important activists for Black History Month, I came across information about Sojourner Truth. I noticed how tremendous Sojourner Truth’s civil rights work was and how her interests intersected with those of noted feminists of her day. On that note, this post will serve as a segway to March, which is Women’s History Month.

But what struck me even more were three things:

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The Life and Legacy of Madam C.J. Walker


Madam C.J. Walker was a civil rights activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Walker is often mentioned because of her entrepreneurship and she is often cited as the first African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. But her generosity and philanthropic work interest me even more.

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Daniel Hale Williams and More

Black History Month, Daniel Hale Williams, Provident Hospital, pericardial surgery, cardiology

As part of my series on Black History, I would like to discuss the “Father of Black Surgery,” Daniel Hale Williams.

Why is Daniel Hale Williams credited as being “one of the first physicians to perform open-heart surgery in the United States”? From the numerous sources I found, Williams has been credited with making advances in cardiology.

From The Huffington Post in 2012:

In 1893, exactly 119 years ago Monday, Chicago surgeon Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open-heart surgery, in what would become both a significant medical advancement, and a huge step in the fight for equality, since Williams was one of the nation’s few black cardiologists at the time.

The American Registry’s page on Daniel Hale Williams also said he performed “the first successful American open-heart surgery.”

UPI had this:

In 1893, Chicago surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open-heart surgery.

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Rarely Discussed History: Black Wall Street (WAW)

Black Wall Street, Tulsa Oklahoma, Greenwood Cultural Center, Black History Month
Photo by Molly Dilworth (via Flickr) Some rights reserved (Creative Commons License 2.0).

As part of Black History Month, I want to use this post to discuss Black Wall Street.

(This is supposed to be a Write Anything Wednesday Post but it’s a day late. I’m late due to two reasons, one being the amount of research I ended up doing.)

I think I might have first learned about the existence of (a) Black Wall Street last year or maybe 2015. The history of it was so obscure that I was only able to find two definitive sources on it when I searched. Since then, I have found a plethora of sources to give me an even better understanding.

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