A bit more than ten years ago I began putting together a newsletter for our New Trier Dems organization. From the start, the primary purpose of the NTD News was to pass on information about events and opportunities that would be of interest to Democrats and Independents living in or near New Trier. Especially those who believe in the power of grassroots political participation. And that is still its purpose today
However, even in those early versions of our NTD News , I found myself writing a brief preface each week to set up those featured events, often encouraging some sort of action.
As the longtime readers among you know, those brief introductions eventually developed into full-blown essays — some much longer than I had planned, and probably longer than any of you wanted. You have my sincere apology for those times when my wordiness got the best of me.
But let’s face it. In the years I’ve been doing these commentaries, there’s been a tsunami of political subjects to get wordy about: The foolishness of George W. Bush, and the evilness of his Svengali Dick Cheney, recurring mass shootings and the insane proliferation of guns in America, the degradation of the world’s environment and the existential threat of climate change, blatant voter suppression in the North as well as the South., the erosion of women’s rights, the cowardice of Republican legislators afraid to do what’s best for our democracy, Vladimir Putin’s mysterious hold over our president…just think how much longer this wordy list could be!
And of course in recent years the most repeated subject for so many of my commentaries has been President Donald J. Trump, a narcissistic, sociopathic demagogue who is quite possibly the dumbest, most ill-equipped, destructive and dangerous president our nation has ever endured. I’m sure I’ve set a personal record for my use of the thesaurus in search of pejorative descriptors for this guy. No number of negative words can do him justice, although there is one word that might — impeachment.
With all that said, on a positive note I also want to point out that over those years, there have been political stories that have inspired us and kept us all hopeful for a better future. Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 was no small feat. Then we saw the defeat of the last remaining Republican legislators representing any part of New Trier. In fact, our region is now blue all the way to the Wisconsin border. The mobilization of suburban women and the Democratic victories across America in 2018 have been a sign of positive things to come — if we Democrats all stay engaged. The energetic new Democratic voices in our U.S. Congress and among our Springfield legislators should fill us with hope. It’s all good stuff.
I know there is plenty more to talk about entering 2020. But as you can probably tell from the tone of my musings, I’ve decided I’m not going to be the person doing it. At least, not so publicly.
Perhaps it’s because I have a milestone birthday coming up that has me thinking about making new commitments and taking new paths. It could also be that I know a weekly commentary in a political world as polarized as ours can freeze a writer into rigid stances. After awhile the points a writer makes begin to sound redundant. Or, my retreat from the weekly ritual of a political commentary could simply be the result of Trump fatigue. Thinking deeply each week about issues being impacted by such a negative force is tiring, to say the least.
I still do plan to be communicating during the upcoming election year as I ring doorbells or write postcards for Democratic candidates. And who knows? There may be an event, a candidate, an issue next year that inspires a personal observation I feel I must share with all of you. In a year as wild as 2020 will be, that could very likely happen.
So now I want to say, “thank you,’” to people who have made my weekly efforts easier than they might have otherwise been: In the earliest days, longtime NTD leaders Joan Berman and Peggy Slater kept me confident I was on the right track. And throughout the press of completing these weekly newsletters I always knew I could ask for help and get it from our NTD President, Judy Mandel and before her, President Priscilla Sperling. I also knew that our NTD office managers, particularly the late, great Sharon Suzda and our present Office Manager Joan Fishman, could always be counted on for help when I asked. And, a couple election cycles ago, NTD Executive Board member Dan O’Brien took over the job of assembling the “news and events” portion of the NTD News , so I could have time to concentrate solely on commentary. (Dan also revamped the newsletter’s entire design to give it a contemporary Internet look.) — Thanks, to you all.
Finally, I want to thank each person who, over the years, took the time to tell me they enjoyed something I’d written. Some of you were old friends, some were people I had never met. You should all know your encouragement has meant a lot to me.
Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973