When editor Larry Ryckman asked me to put together some of my favorite columns of 2021 for a Sunday column, I was, of course, thrilled — and on at least two counts. One, it meant that the boss thought I had written columns that were worth reprising. And two, and more important, these were columns I had already written. As Dorothy Parker, speaking for all writers, famously said, “I hate writing, but love having written.”
As I read back through my columns, I noticed a clear theme, which is not unlike the theme of 2021 — a year for which many people had such high hopes and a year that nearly always disappointed.
The first, and most shattering, disappointment came on Jan. 6 when the U.S. Capitol was stormed and we realized that although Donald Trump would (probably) no longer be president, Trumpism was still very much with us, as was the Big Lie and the year-long assault on the American democratic project.
The second failed Trump impeachment trial set the tone. With a chance to rid itself of the Trumpist virus, Republicans, with a few notable exceptions, remained firmly in his thrall.
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And fringe back benchers like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Jim Jordan became among the year’s foremost advocates for the Big Lie. We can’t forget Tina Peters’ Big Lie contribution, either, and her collaboration with the My Pillow guy.
The other huge news was, of course, the never-ending pandemic and COVID-19’s various Greek-letter variants, now including omicron.
The virus, combined with inflation and congressional failures to pass voting reform bills, climate-change legislation in the face of a year’s worth of deadly weather events or Joe Biden’s — thanks, Joe Manchin — safety-net (BBB) bill, undercut Biden’s approval ratings.
There was the rollout of the vaccines that have saved so many lives and the anti-vaxxers who senselessly helped keep the virus, which has now caused more than 800,000 American deaths, in business. We shouldn’t forget the fights over masks and vaccines and the governor’s strongly-pro-vaccine/mask-but-firmly-anti-mandate policies.
There was the conservative-dominated Supreme Court, which seems ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and a host of other forms of “settled law.” And then there were the high-profile courtroom dramas and Black Lives Matter.
And certainly not least, there was the King Soopers mass murder in Boulder, which shocked us, even though we should know better than to be shocked, even as we would be shocked again as the contagion of gun violence claimed a cop killer in Arvada and the good guy with a gun who shot him.
So, here’s my list of some 2021-themed columns. They come with my thanks for reading and especially for supporting The Colorado Sun.
- Jan. 7: We had to know that Trump, in the end, wouldn’t leave without trying to burn the place down
- March 24: We can say we’re shocked and horrified by the Boulder mass murders, but we can’t say we’re surprised
- April 28: We can add to our list of excessive use-of-force victims an 80-pound, 73-year-old flower picker in Loveland
- May 9: The Black caucus told us there was a problem. And then along came Buckwheat.
- May 30: Republicans ignore the lessons of the Jan. 6 Capitol assault. Now Democrats must learn the lesson of May 28.
- June 27: The tragedy in Arvada — the death of both the cop and the good Samaritan — is even worse than we imagined
- Aug. 15: Jared Polis said basically all the right things about how schools can reopen safely. He still got everything wrong.
- Aug. 25: Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters gives first interview since skipping town to the MyPillow guy. Who else?
- Nov. 24: The Arbery-killing trial is not a do-over for Kyle Rittenhouse, even though it feels that way
- Dec. 1: No one is surprised a second Boebert video turns up — still bigoted, but with slightly different details
- Dec. 15: If you’ve always assumed Manchin would come around on Biden’s safety-net bill, it may be time to think again
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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