Coastal Commuter

Hello to hope

Good riddance to 2020

If ever there was a year from hell or, more accurately, a year in hell, it’s 2020. Such a nice round number, too. Even if 2020 suggests the concept of clear vision, most of what the world has seen over the past 12 months has been the dark, cloudy stuff of nightmares. Will the new year bring a mighty wind to blow those clouds away? Perhaps. A fresh start would be welcome, but we still have December to slog through, and all the tinsel, fancy ornaments, bright lights, and requisite cheer of the season can’t dispel much of what we’ve all been experiencing — especially an ongoing health emergency when the heedless have ignored sensible precautions and brought on a coast-to-coast spike in infections.

Everybody is aware of the hardships and madness that have — pardon the expression — plagued us, although the extent of our plight and any solutions to our problems vary depending on one’s point of view and cognitive capabilities. No one can deny that a global pandemic has sown illness and death, forcing business closures, causing widespread unemployment, and crippling the economy. There’s also that little matter of a nation at war with itself, enflamed by political beliefs that veer into fanaticism and by intolerance that has amped up to full-on bigotry.

There is hope. Despite the efforts of those who tried to undermine democracy, the outcome of the presidential election has led to a regime change in the United States that was so welcome it triggered celebrations in the streets here and abroad. Let’s not forget that what was roundly hailed as the safest and most secure election in American history was plunged into controversy by laughably false accusations of impropriety from the losing side. Still, barring criminal machinations, treasonous acts, an unexpected catastrophe, or an invasion by extraterrestrial creatures, a new president will be sworn in on Jan. 20.


This impending inauguration should be a boost to the national psyche. Make that a little more than half the nation’s psyche — which I suppose is a move in the right direction. The voting numbers in November split 51 to 49 percent, and the refusal of so many to accept the accredited count is more than appalling. It suggests we’re in the middle of a systemic crisis exacerbated by a broken or incompetent education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking, by prejudices passed from generation to generation and from neighbor to neighbor, and by an alarming number of people who have devalued truth, facts, and science. You need only turn on your electronic news outlet of choice to witness the turmoil. Hate and ignorance are so widespread that I fear the divide will not disappear over the course of four years . . . or eight.

So the incoming administration will be tasked with a massive clean-up of all the problems that linger and bedevil us. This is not simply sweeping away the remains of a pickle jar that broke on aisle four. It’s more like the whole damned supermarket is trashed. A widely distributed Covid-19 vaccine should serve as a portal to some degree of vocational and social normalcy, barring viral mutations. An immunization rollout is still in the planning stage as this is being written, but it’s a start.


As 2020 reaches its merciful end, it might make the most sense for those of us who have survived its challenges to refrain from dwelling on what we endured and instead look forward and see what we can do to make things better in 2021. Living in the state with the largest economy in the United States and the fifth largest economy in the world gives Californians a distinct advantage over many who are stuck elsewhere. Sadly, that doesn’t change much of our current dilemma insofar as we remain wedded to the other 49 states and their collective fate.

If we truly want a rosier future, it’s going to take patience and determination and a willingness to work side-by-side with our fellow citizens for the betterment of all, regardless of where they dwell. That’s a big ask, but if we’re not ready to battle for the soul of our country and for the well-being of those who share the land with us, maybe we don’t deserve the freedoms we purportedly cherish here. 

Michael Snyder is a print and broadcast journalist who covers pop culture on Michael Snyder’s Culture Blast, via, Roku, Spotify, and YouTube, and The Mark Thompson Show on KGO radio. You can follow Michael on Twitter: @cultureblaster

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