If there was a shittier year than 2016, it was 2017. If there was a better year for me personally than 2016, it was definitely 2017. Changes happening in our world have been depressing and quite unsettling, while my personal life has had many wonderful changes including getting engaged to my partner and being fortunate enough to be able to buy a house. It’s been quite the contrast!
Earlier in the year I wanted to take my writing/posts in a more political direction in response to the Trump administration and the GOP stranglehold on power. Most of it ended up being poorly developed rants that never saw the light of day thankfully. Instead I turned to sharing my writing and photos on this blog and Instagram to escape the dark reality our country has become.
The GOP controls of the Presidency, Senate, House of Reps, Supreme Court, and nearly 75% of Governorships/State Houses. They are hellbent on hurting people and make the lives of the rich and powerful ever easier at our expense. The left in this country has no power whatsoever. Straight up Nazi’s have been holding rallies on a regular basis and even killing people. Puerto Rico is still without power, months after the hurricane. I truly believe the pendulum will swing back with the Democrats taking power again, but I’m not hopeful they’ll push forward the kind of leftist agenda this country really needs. Instead I think we’ll see more of the half-assed, tepid, Centrist bullshit that helped get us here in the first place.
I could go on and on, but I’m gonna plug Socialism here. That’s the only answer to the wannabe-fascist GOP and weak mainstream Democrat centrism. End billionaires forever. Tax Walmart and Koch heirs at 99%. Defund the military for once. Make healthcare free for all, make higher education free for all. There’s no reason the middle and working class in this country can’t have the security that only the wealthy have. It’s completely achievable, but will take hard work to get there. That’s what I’ll be fighting for politically and I hope you do too.
Like many readers and friends, I’m also upset about the assault on our public lands. A land use policy that favors industry, corporations, and rich people over the general public is straight up theft. It has been nice to see many organizations unify on this front to fight back. We’re losing, clearly… but we’re also being motivated to fight back hard. Money rules the day, so give to effective organizations that combat these fuckers in court.
One silver lining is that while the GOP is good at obstructing everything when they’re a minority, they perform poorly when in actual power. So far the only thing they’ve been able to pass is tax “reform” aka a giveaway to corporations and rich people whom least deserve or need a tax break. I’ve seen a take that this is the low hanging fruit for the GOP, and really the only big legislative victory they’ve been able to accomplish with a super majority and I tend to agree. They couldn’t even manage to repeal the ACA! Let’s hope their ineptitude continues throughout 2018 when hopefully they will lose either the House or Senate (hopefully both).
For our country and the planet, 2017 has sucked badly. May we harness this backlash against the GOP and Trump into a substantive movement to affect real change that makes a difference in peoples lives. Otherwise we’ll just get these fools back in power again. Hopefully Democrats will not squander this opportunity.
Personally, I’ve had a great year of trips and life events! My job is good, I have everything I need, and I have a great community and support system. I got engaged and we bought a house recently. The house buying process and ensuing responsibilities have put a damper on my free time, but I’m ready to get back out again.
For 2018 I hope to explore some new areas that are lesser known for the explicit purpose of hoping more people will go there after reading my posts. The more people that use our public lands, the better. We need more people to defend it plain and simple. Otherwise, we’ll lose it as we have been shown in Utah. I’ll be hoping to get more of my friends and family out into the outdoors and hope you do to. It’s a wonderful opportunity to educate them about the importance of public lands and why it’s worth defending.
I’ll also make an effort to promote local businesses in communities near public lands I visit. The more local tourism we can encourage in rural communities that are adjacent to public lands, the better. More people = more income and more jobs. A sustainable tourism industry that benefits rural communities also weakens the argument to industrialize, farm, mine, or log public lands for the purpose of providing jobs. When you come to these communities I think it’s important to benefit them financially… get gas, last minute supplies, motel room, and that wonderful post trail burger and fries. Don’t just pass through, stop, interact, and spend money there. Learn something from them. Locals have told me about some amazing shit once they figure out I’m not an elitist prick from Portland or Seattle. Work hard and find some common ground with them, it may be easier than you think.
As far as this blog goes, I’ll certainly be posting less frequently as other responsibilities take precedence. I hope to deliver better posts however, with more sweet pics using my new camera. I’ll be doing some underwater photography on river snorkeling trips as well, which I hope my backpacker readers check out.
If you like my photography, check out my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/douchepacker/
Hope you had a great year and Happy New Year!!!