America Is Good: January
Welcome back to America is Good, the column where we will good things into being because, in the words of a great hero...
This month, we're looking for good things to nurture as we hurtle toward the total apocolypse that is Inauguration Day.
1. Activism was proven to work when Americans shut down the first horrible thing Congress tried to do.
GOP members of Congress voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics in a secret vote, but they backtracked the next morning after a litany of phone calls from voters.
Some (bad) news organizations credited Trump himself with the reversal after he tweeted about the vote.
But it's pretty clear that it wasn't a single, lukewarm tweet that shook up the GOP's attempt to make corruption great again—it was ordinary American people who realized that "democracy isn't a spectator sport."
2. There's a cafe in San Antonio that serves three-pound cinnamon rolls.
It took me ten seconds to realize that Lulu's Cafe allows you to order this amazing example of American innovation through the mail!
3. New York City's Second Avenue Subway Station began featuring inclusive mosaics.
These beauties, titled "Perfect Strangers," show that diversity is still widely respected and valued in America and that we (whoever "we" are) will always belong here.
This South Asian woman had a profound, and totally relatable reaction to seeing a woman of her culture "cemented in the infrastructure of her city."
4. Amazing TV shows will be returning soon with new seasons.
In case you live under a rock, there are new episodes of Sherlock available, and Homeland began on January 15.
Most importantly, all of the Shonda shows (Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder) are restarting the Thursday after Inauguration Day (if we make it that long).
5. The recent addition to the Star Wars series has one amazing aspect that everyone is talking about: diversity.
With the inclusion of actors like Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed, we can have hope that some people in Hollywood are doing whatever they can to show that diversity and representation matter.
6. Kamala Harris is killing it in her first term in office.
Harris, the former California Attorney General, is only the second black woman ever elected to the Senate, and she is the first Indian-American woman in the Senate.
Her statement after the election, and her vote against the first steps to repealing the Affordable Care Act give Californians, gives Americans hope that she will fight for her constituents.
7. Thousands of women (and men) will be marching in Washington on January 21st
They chose January 21st not only because they were blocked from marching on January 20th but also as a strong "welcome" message for the new administration.
8. PODCASTS! For listening to while canvassing door-to-door or making posters for the next time you crash your Congressperson's town hall.
The greatest part of the Women's March, for me, is this amazing interview with national co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour on the new podcast from Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor—Pod Save America, described as a "no bullshit conversation about politics" for those who aren't ready to "give up or go insane."
When you're done with all the episodes of that one, try The FourFiftyOne—a "podcast for the Resistance" hosted by Summer Brennan, Jesse Hirsch, and Jonathan Mann. This podcast will assure you that you're not alone, that America is still good, and that there will always be ways to survive, thrive, and resist.
9. Uncle Joe.
Okay but seriously, Biden continues to be the comforting presence we all need right now, and the Obama/Biden bromance will definitely last past January 20th.
At Uncle Joe's final swearing in of the Congress on January 3rd, he did not disappoint. He made jokes, took selfies, and got snubbed by adorable children.
During Obama's farewell address, the president gave one of the most heartfelt shout-outs to our favorite Veep:
You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best, not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain I gained a brother. And we love you and Jill like family. And your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives.
Biden responded with his classic finger gun.
(Quick digression: after watching the speech, this tweet reminded me that the good in America is still here.)
And if one shout-out wasn't enough, Obama surprised Biden with the Medal of Freedom, not just because he thinks Joe will go down as one of the greatest vice-presidents in history, but also because he wanted to give the "internet one last chance to talk about our bromance."
The surprise award ceremony will give you all the feels, but it reminds us that Aquinas was right, "there's nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."
So as we enter 2017, keep your friends close and remember that America is great because America is good.
Varsha is a historian with a day job. Her typical night includes binge-watching classic TV shows and romantic comedies, talking about that article you don’t plan on reading but really should on the balcony with her roommates, or rereading her favorite books for the umpteenth time. She suffers through the Bay Area public transportation system because she knows there’s a glass of Lagavulin waiting for her at home.