It's strange to think that 2020 is finally over. To call this a challenging year for so many people, for so many reasons, feels like a failure of the English language. In previous blog spaces I've liked to wrap the year up, talk about lessons learned, things we've done, and what comes next. It seems that in the past I only did this every fourth year, and you can see those in this blog now, copied from their original publication locations, and it feels like the right place to start this blog, by looking back at the year that has been.
In Memorium Kobe Bryan, daughter Ginna, and seven others. Kenny Rogers and Doug Supernaw Sean Connery and Naya Rivera Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin Chadwick Boseman John Lewis and C.T. Vivian Ruth Bader Ginsburg Nearly 350,000 Americans, and more than 1,800,000 people worldwide to COVID-19. That has to be where we start, it has to be the first thing we think about every single day when we get out of bed. Enough people have died in the United States to completely eliminate the city of Fort Wayne, and we're approaching enough deaths to equal the entire population of Allen County, IN. The worldwide deaths are greater the individual populations of West Virginia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Deleware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. The number of people who have died of this virus is actually higher the combined populations of Wyoming and Vermont, and most of Alaska. This is a global pandemic, and it will touch the rest of our lives, all of our lives, if we're fortunate enough to survive it. We have lived through gross mismanagement of a global pandemic, whether our leaders failed us through gross narcissism, gross incompetence, or gross stupidity. They have failed each of us time and time again throughout 2020, in ways that I never imagined were possible. The Games of the XXXII Olympiad This was cancelled, see above. Music With the world absolutely falling apart around me I turned inward to old comfort, mostly. I surely would not have been as sane this year without new music from Taylor Swift, as Folklore was just in constant rotation around my house. After the election I found some joy in Rain on Me from Gaga and Ariana, and leading up the New Year there was a new recording of Potential Breakup Song that was a perfect way to just kick 2020 to the curb. If you'd rather not have your music in English, go listen to Lynda, who gave us the album Papillon this year, where I loved Si tu m'aimes.
A New Home I bought a house this year. It's got plenty of space for Lily and I, so we added another member to the family, Selena (named in homage quite obviously). I also finally had to give up my beloved Didi and replaced her with a hybrid named Penny. It's insane to think about how much changed this year; a new position in my career, a new roof over my head, new wheels on the road, new family member. It was a year of near complete change, all done under the specter of pandemic, which made it really hard to fully explore my new home. The Election I took some things for granted in 2016, namely I didn't believe that enough people would believe Donald Trump to matter, and because I also could not get excited about Secretary Clinton I sat out that election. I did my part as a voter, but for the first time in a long time I did nothing else. I resolved to never let that happen again, so the first thing I did in Indiana was volunteer for more elections. We lost both a State House race and a Congressional race, but I didn't sit them out, and despite losing the Presidential election in Indiana, I got the national result I so desperately wanted, the end of the Donald Trump presidency, one that has been predicated on lies, denial of the lies, and then a narcissistic need to call other people liars...it's quite fascinating from a psychological perspective, if it wasn't so dangerous to have to live through. Since the election we've had to live through this denial from the right, saying "We won," and claiming massive election fraud, yet, as of the time of this writing the only proven case of election fraud involves a Trump supporter who got a ballot for a deceased relative. The Trump Lawsuit Machine has racked up 60 losses in courts, compared to a single win, but that win didn't change a single vote. Massive recounts in Wisconsin saw President-Elect Joe Biden's lead actually grow. For four years, the Republican Party has been mostly without courage, and without convictions, and has steadily moved towards a belief in authoritarian fascism that should terrify not only every American citizen, but our friends and allies around the world. They have abrogated their responsibility to the American people, and instead supported the Twitter feed of a man who has always been unfit to lead, anything. As I write this, Congress is being sworn in, which fascinates me, and leads to our next topic. Politics After moving I did what I needed to do to meet new people, which is to say that I became involved in politics immediately. I did some speech writing, I did some commercial script writing. In one case I got to support the best available candidate, even if I found myself in frequent disagreement, and in one case I got to support a brave voice who I hope will remain involved in politics. She has a bright future, and she has the brains to excel and the compassionate nature I want in my leaders. We need more people like her in office. I also spent time with so many volunteers and activists, and am so thankful for the new friendships that have been formed. There are so many awesome people putting in the work across the 12 counties that make up Indiana's Third Congressional District, and experiencing their excitement first hand was inspiring for me. As Congress is swearing in, we already have seen 126 members of the United States House of Representatives engage in a conspiracy to commit sedition, including the Congressman from my own district. This is especially heinous and offensive to me as Representative Banks is a Naval Reservist officer, who once upon a time swore this oath. I, James Edward Banks, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. Mr. Banks also swore an oath when he was elected to Congress. It goes a little bit (or, you know, completely) like this. I, James Edward Banks, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. Looks really familiar, right? Yet, this man has, without proof, alleged election fraud to support his corrupt President and undermine the will of the American people. He has, without fail, used racist dog whistles to blame China for absolutely anything that goes wrong in this country, and has, also without fail, voted against the best interests of his constituents. He is a criminal. He is unfit to lead. He is an authoritarian fascist blindly supporting other authoritarian fascists to advance his political career. An Announcement It is no longer enough to help other people fight his bigotry and ignorance. It is no longer enough to just talk about politics in this blog and on Twitter. It is no longer enough to support a candidate, and try to change their mind on the issues. It is time to take a personal responsibility that goes beyond writing for other people, and encouraging my friends to vote. It is time to run. It is time to run because no one can communicate my ideas better than I can. It is time to run because no one I could support as a candidate will agree with me on everything. It is time to run because no one will excite me as a candidate as much I will. So that's what I'm doing. Today, if you're one of the fifty people reading this, you get to know. I am running for the United States House of Representatives, in Indiana's 3rd Congressional District. Hoosiers deserve healthcare, fair wages, and clean air. Hoosiers deserve an end to systemic racism, private prisons, and the criminalization of desperation. Hoosiers deserve a modern infrastructure, protected voting rights, and net neutrality. Hoosiers deserve better than Jim Banks. It's time for change. Stick around, there is more news coming.