PERRY: 2016: The year fools and foolishness won it all

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It’s pretty hard to fit all that went wrong in 2016 into a space this small.

Like most of the planet, I’m aghast at recalling not only the front-page tragedies that struck all over the globe, but the seemingly endless list of wrongs that just couldn’t compete with terrorist and war atrocities in the Middle East, American cities, even nightclubs, and public places all across Europe.

The year illustrated the breathtaking ability for humans to bring about their own misery. And no doubt the personification of “that’s just wrong” is Donald Trump.

Not only is it just wrong that Americans would permit Trump to occupy the limelight on the public stage, but then elect him to the most critical job in the country? It’s difficult to see how anything can be more wrong than putting a blustering, dangerous and ill-informed liar in any position of power, especially the country’s most powerful position.

Even more wrong than Trump himself, is the American electorate who voted for a man who’s promised to make life harder for them, for all of us. The biggest wrong of 2016 was an America dumbed down to the point that the masses can’t distinguish between fact and fiction, lies and truth, movies and reality, good and bad, right and wrong. We’ve become a country where elderly people shake their fists and say, “I don’t want the government interfering with my Medicare.” We’re a country of people who no longer have any options for our futures other than Social Security — and who voted for people who have promised to diminish Social Security benefits.

We’re a country of people who depend on the Affordable Care Act to have health insurance to provide life-sustaining drugs and treatment. But these same people voted for others who promised to repeal the ACA, saying that they didn’t think anybody really meant it.

We’re a country of people struggling for housing, education, health care and even safe or adequate food, spending more on defense and military expenditures than the next eight top-spending nations combined — including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and India. And we voted for people who want to significantly increase that bloated budget, meaning we must decrease spending on things like education, medical care, roads and veterans’ benefits. The alternative to that would be raising taxes or borrowing more money.

We’re a country that laughs at our own intelligence agencies when they say the Russians hacked into the email of politicians and political officials for the sole purpose of swinging a presidential election, believing the Russian government instead.

We’re a country of people who voted for people who have continually made it profitable to send manufacturing operations overseas for the sole purpose of exploiting cheaper labor while maximizing tax-savings on increased profits. And the same people then voted for others to bring those jobs back to the United States, even though they won’t change the very tax laws that enabled the exodus.

We are a people who believe mightily in science that we like — science that produces video games, movies on demand, phones that run our lives, cure us from cancer. But we are the same people that discount or scoff at science that  resolutely tells us we are endangering our economies and our very lives by denying our role in global climate change, and that we must address it. We are a people who believe TV stars instead of scientists and our own physicians when they tell us that childhood vaccinations are safe, and ignoring them puts the entire population in peril.

Right here in Colorado we continue to vote for people who refuse to see that Colorado’s rapid growth is destroying the very reasons it’s such an attractive place to live — because we won’t dedicate enough resources to transportation and education.

Right here in Aurora we have all agreed that police transparency is the answer to maintaining trust and peace between cops and the public, yet we repeatedly refuse to create an independent oversight program that can investigate police controversies and deliver a trusted answer to cops and civilians.

No doubt, the year was marred by an endless string of tragedies. But the greatest tragedy of all is how Americans have gone far beyond not taking the time to make informed decisions on matters. Even worse, Americans now form opinions based on lies, distortions, and disinformation — and they don’t know any better, or care.

It would be comforting to believe that the country has bottomed out in 2016, and that we have nowhere to go but up.  But until we wake up and wise up, we are simply leading our own circular parade of fools. History has shown repeatedly that such a reckless march ends only in a very bad place.

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