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Editorial: 2017: A year of self discovery for America

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Charleston, W.Va. Women's March.

2017, a year that for many will be remembered as the year we all lost a little bit of our sanity but revealed much more about ourselves in the process. In the past year, we have become divided by issues of politics, social views and questions about our culture as a whole.

Some of the events that led us here may seem as though they were three years ago. Maybe that’s because we are so much more aware of what is going on around the world. We are so connected, and yet so distant from the person even to the left or right of us.

January brought us the inauguration of two outsiders who made their mark on the campaign trail with their rash decision making and off-the-cuff remarks. Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia took office this year, and in that time, he has now switched parties from Democrat to Republican, saying that “The Democratic party has let me down.”

That same week, President Donald Trump would take office as the 45th president of the United States. It would only be a day after that when he and his administration would set the tense and aggressive tone that has become the norm in the White House.

Who could forget the introduction heard round the world to the short tenure of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period.” Once again, it was not the largest audience.

Following the inauguration of Trump, the country saw one of the largest peaceful protests in its history, the Women’s March on all cities across America. Even in Charleston, W.Va. there was a turn out of hundreds of men and women in support of women’s rights. The Women’s March was a sort of foreshadowing of what 2017 had in store.

The New England Patriots would win its fifth Super Bowl, making quarterback Tom Brady arguably the most accomplished football player in the sports history, along with solidifying Coach Bill Belichick as one of sports greatest coaches.

For Huntington, we took home the title of “America’s Best Community,” an important step towards revitalizing the Jewel City. Business has also continued to move to downtown and Pullman Square.

Trump payed Huntington a visit at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, where he continued his promise to West Virginia to bring back coal. Although there is nothing to support that promise at this point, Trump did choose to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate agreement, making the U.S. the only country in the world to not be a part of it. Just to put that into perspective, Syria and Russia are in the Paris Climate agreement.

But not all is bad. 2017 was a landmark year in film and music. With films like “Get Out,” Americans were able to see a film that hit on almost every genre, while depicting the divisive issue of racial inequality in America. And artists like Lorde, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar returned with, arguably, their best work yet. Huntington even saw the rise of local musician Tyler Childers, where his debut album “Purgatory” would release at number five on Apple Music this summer.

We also saw the debate of guns reach a new height in 2017. The world saw some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history from Manchester, England to the Las Vegas mass shooting. According to ABC News, the U.S. alone has seen 317 mass shootings in 2017, a number that should be nauseating, but somehow congress’ lack of action towards any moderate gun legislation is much more sickening.

The U.S. Congress has reached new lows this year in ways that don’t just reveal to us the blatant lack of empathy toward their constituents but lack of moral character, whether that be from the three embarrassing attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to supporting an accused sexual predator. And just to put the “cherry on top,” the GOP passed a Tax Reform Bill in the early hours of the morning that will inevitably widen the middle-class gap and reaffirm the fact that trickle down economics is failed experiment at its best.

On the other hand, November brought the most diverse election in American history. With two transgender women elected into public office, a lesbian mayor in Seattle and multiple firsts for representatives of different ethnicities and religions in cities and districts that have never been represented by a person of color. It’s maybe a step towards actually representing all Americans and not just the white washed congress we have now.

Huntington would again grab national attention with the documentary “Heroin(e).” The film tells the story of three women in Huntington who are working to help stop the opiate epidemic that has crippled the city. “Heroin(e)” has made the short list of possible Oscar nominations for the short film category.

As the year began, it has ended with women. If anything is taken away from the tumultuous year of 2017, it should be the long awaited acknowledgement of women. In the past few months, we have pulled back the curtain on the disgusting culture of sexual harassment from powerful men in the work place.

One could argue this started with the 2016 campaign scandal of Donald Trump and the Access Hollywood bus tape, where Trump admitted to grabbing women inappropriately and being able to do so because he was famous. What followed a year later was an outpour of brave women who did not know if they would be received with as much support as they have been.

Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein was revealed to be an elaborate sexual predator for nearly 40 years. Comedian Louis C.K., finally, was ousted for sexual harassment after a year of rumors floating around him. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken just yesterday resigned from his seat after multiple allegations surfaced.

That news came the day after Time Magazine named their “Person of the Year,” or better yet persons of the year. The #MeToo movement and the brave women that stepped forward to name the men who harassed them, would be named persons of the year. Yes, that’s right not Donald Trump, but instead the same women who protested him and his administration the day after his inauguration.

2017 may have been a long and grueling year for a majority of Americans, but if you look at it from a positive perspective, is there a more story book ending to the year? Women took a huge step in a year that many believe to be one of the darkest years in this country’s history. Sure, you can look at it as just one win, but if our system is so fundamentally broken, you have to begin to build somewhere.

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