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Saturday, May 15, 2021

OPINION: 2016 in review

If nothing else, 2016 was a year no one will be forgetting anytime soon.

It seemed like the idea that 2016 was the worst year, well, ever, was on everyone’s minds. There’s plenty to look back on that made it feel so.

A contentious presidential election that was wildly divisive made this year feel firmly situated at rock bottom. Election 2016 pushed voters to ideological extremes and isolated and estranged Americans, especially young millennials.

For many of us, this was our first time voting in a presidential election. The past eight years of progressive policy and forward-thinking makes the new establishment look like a backwards slide. Civic engagement felt increasingly futile, with the United States Election Project reporting merely 60 percent of the eligible voting population turned out for the general election in November.

The election culmination left our country in a state of anger and justified fear for what the future may bring.

“A touch of optimism won’t be amiss for the coming year.”

The Western Front Editorial Board

2016 was a cursed year for many of the celebrities we grew up with as well. Prince, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali. Then George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, all in the span of three days.

Not to mention the clowns. Literal, evil clowns.

The idea that 2016 was the worst year ever was repeated until it became a running joke.

And maybe it’s because tragedy is more interesting, or unhappy news just makes the front page more often. The old newspaper adage “if it bleeds, it leads” proved its worth this year, with more and more negative news making its way into the top slots. Fear-based programming brings better ratings, so more often than not, the top headlines of 2016 were ones informing us of violence, anger and aggression.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. Plenty of good things happened this year. Too often overshadowed by the darker parts, but they happened nonetheless.

Due to The ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge, the gene responsible for ALS was discovered. Leonardo DiCaprio got his Oscar. According to the World Health Organization, the Americas are now measles-free. The signing of the Paris Agreement was a leap forward in the fight against climate change. Unemployment rates are down, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest beach cleanup in history happened this year, with citizens in Mumbai clearing 4,000 tons of garbage from shores.

And let’s not forget the Cubs.

The point? A touch of optimism won’t be amiss for the coming year. 2016 might have felt like the world was ending, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves by fearing the worst for the new year.

The Western Front Editorial Board consists of Anna Edlund, Alyssa Evans and Robert Johnson.

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