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Opinion | The ‘End of an Ending’: Was 2021 Really The Worst?

[MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

Today on “The Argument,” did the world get better or worse in 2021? Well, we did it, everyone. We made it through another year. Another year in a pandemic. Another year on a planet that’s not having a real great time. Another year of teetering democracies and rising autocrats and conversations about what exactly we should do about all of it and what it even is. But that’s a debate for next week, for next year.

I’m Jane Coaston. And for the past few years, when the last week in the calendar rolls around, I feel like we collectively sigh and say, “Ugh, worst year ever.” But this time, part of me wonders, is that actually true? Was 2021 the worst year ever? This week, that is the question we’re going to try and answer with the help from a lot of my colleagues here at The New York Times Opinion section, and from a lot of you.

listener voicemail 1

Hi, Jane.

listener voicemail 2

I want to respond about your question regarding what I think about 2021.

listener voicemail 3

So are things getting better, or are things getting worse?

listener voicemail 4

I guess my first instinct on this is, it kind of depends on what I’m paying attention to.

listener voicemail 5

I have a great community around me.

listener voicemail 6

Gotten married this year and just moved to Texas recently.

listener voicemail 7

We got pregnant with our first child.

listener voicemail 5

So I guess that’s good. But—

listener voicemail 8

2021 was a roller coaster.

listener voicemail 9

It’s a mixed bag.

listener voicemail 10

My kids are in middle school and high school. They had a tough year.

listener voicemail 11

Between our politics and the ongoing epidemic.

listener voicemail 12

Health care, public transportation, the political polarization, the instability of the government.

listener voicemail 13

Gun control issue.

listener voicemail 14

I’m not holding out hope.

listener voicemail 15

That’s America, 2021.

listener voicemail 16

Yeah, the world’s going to shit. [MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

OK, so this year was crappy in a lot of respects. Did anything go well? Is there anything that you will take as a moment of optimism from this year moving forward?

michelle goldberg

Huh.

jane coaston

One person who is not feeling good about the direction we’re trending in is my colleague Michelle Goldberg.

michelle goldberg

I feel like it just keeps getting worse.

jane coaston

How so?

michelle goldberg

I mean, look, obviously it’s better that Donald Trump is not president anymore, and it’s better that we have Covid vaccines. It was a better year for me personally than last year, which is a low bar, because last year was the worst year of my entire life. But to me, what really has made it worse beyond the fact that just the pandemic is kind of empirically worse, more people are dying, is the sort of end of an ending,

The one thing that you could hold on to first throughout the Trump administration and then, overlapping with that, throughout the pandemic, is that you can look forward to the thing that was going to finish it. Right? Like you could say, if we just do all the right things, we can end this abomination of a presidency in November of 2020. And then, as you remember, everybody would talk about, well, when I get vaccinated, I’m going to do this. When I get vaccinated, I’m going to do that. And I remember getting vaccinated and being like, oh my god. That sucked. Like, thank god that is over.

And I think now we’re in a place where, as I wrote in a column, the dystopia doesn’t have an expiration date anymore. The pandemic is just kind of grinding on and grinding on and grinding on, and Trump is thankfully gone. But Trumpism is obviously not, and in 2020, you could say, well, we can save democracy if everything goes well in November 2020.

It’s really hard for me to see how American democracy gets saved now, given the sort of inbuilt dynamics of gerrymandering and the likely Republican triumph in the midterms and their growing structural advantage in the Senate and the fact that you have replaced all of these somewhat honest Republican election officials with Trumpist hacks, who are devoted to the big lie. I just — I mean, well, let me ask you this. I’m curious, if you think 10 years in the future, what is easier for you to imagine that, of these three options, like sort of normal politics, civil war, or secession?

jane coaston

None? None of those options? [GOLDBERG LAUGHS] Because I think that this is the challenging thing about projecting forward is that all we can do is project forward, based on things that have already happened. And each of those options seems to me — now, obviously, I could be wrong — seems to me to require something that I don’t think is necessarily happening.

What I see more likely is kind of a general state of malaise because the people who are the most plugged into politics are not most people. Most people are not involved in politics. Most people don’t pay attention to politics. Even in 2020, still about, like, 80 million people didn’t vote, for whatever reason.

There are a lot of people for whom the issues that are driving us all insane just pass by like waves in a river. I want to go back to the idea of the end of an ending. That feels new to me. Do you think that you would feel more optimistic or even more close to neutral if you were someone who was outside of politics, if you did not have the job that you have now?

I think about that a lot, like I’ve got a lot of friends who work in the service industry or have very different jobs. And their view is, like, obviously, Covid impacted everything that they did, but it’s very much of like, people are coming back to my restaurant, things are going better. It’s scary, but things are improving. Do you think you’d feel differently?

michelle goldberg

You know, I think probably, like I think that the extreme toxicity of American politics means that spending a lot of time thinking about it as you and I do is pretty unhealthy.

jane coaston

Do not recommend it.

michelle goldberg

And you know, I wouldn’t have said that at any other time in my career. I’m really fortunate to have this job, don’t get me wrong. But I think it’s gotten a lot harder psychologically because it’s just so dark all the time.

So on the one hand, yes, but I also have to say, I don’t think I’m just sort of projecting when I say that it seems there’s a lot of depression and malaise out there, right? I mean there’s empirical numbers for rising anxiety, rising depression, rising drug overdoses.

In New York City, you just see a lot of human misery on the streets. Not as much, I think, as conservatives would like you to believe, but maybe more than there was a couple of years ago.

The surgeon general just put out this advisory, which is one of the more kind of serious things that a surgeon general can put out, on the youth mental health crisis. So I think that the reverberations from Covid, the psychic reverberations are still really, really hanging over a lot of people.

jane coaston

Well, Michelle, thank you so much, and happy New Year!

michelle goldberg

Happy New Year!

jane coaston

I hope that 2022 is better?

michelle goldberg

Yay!

jane coaston

Yay! [MUSIC PLAYING]

listener roxy

Hi, Jane. My name is Roxy. I am an emergency room nurse, calling from California, here to make a case for why 2021 is better than 2020, at least on a personal level. My first reason is, I got vaccinated, which made me feel much safer both in my personal life and at my job.

Second reason is, I did not get dumped this year and actually have found love again, which is wonderful. And thirdly, I just discovered my passion for floristry. And this has been so therapeutic and enjoyable for me through the pandemic and working in a really difficult and draining job. So those are my three reasons for why this year is better than the last. And I want to wish everyone a happy New Year!

jane coaston

Happy New Year to you, Roxy. And thank you for everything you do. And I’m happy you found love.

The absence of one particular national figure made the year a bit brighter for some of you. This is a listener named Michael in North Carolina.

listener michael

I just want to say that, let’s not forget Donald Trump did lose the election in 2020. And 2021 is definitely better than 2020 for that very reason alone. I think we have to keep that in mind.

jane coaston

Michael, you know who agrees with you? My colleague Michelle Cottle. Hi, Michelle.

michelle cottle

Jane, how are you?

jane coaston

I’m good. How are you?

michelle cottle

Excellent. Happy to be here.

jane coaston

Michelle covers Washington and U.S. politics for the Opinion section here at the Times. And she’s also a member of the editorial board.

michelle cottle

I understand there were scary, frustrating things afoot. But from my perspective, and obviously I cover national politics, so I’m coming at it from a very specific perspective, I would rather have a president who is in there arguing about spending policy and all kinds of normal democratic matters than be sitting around waiting for a president who’s subverting American foreign policy for his political gain, snuggling with white supremacists, cuddling with Vladimir Putin.

So yeah, for all of the frustrations with Democrats in the White House and Congress, I’m going to go with better politically, but there’s also potentially scary stuff brewing that could make next year and going forward much worse. So how’s that for splitting the difference?

jane coaston

Do you think it was like a sense of this is more normal? Like, if you’re having arguments about spending or inflation, that sounds more like what you might be used to covering, than like attempted coup via PowerPoint.

michelle cottle

Look, with Trump, every day was a potential constitutional crisis. You never knew what insanity was going to come out of the White House, and the Republican Congress was not going to do anything to stop it. Politics is not for the, you know, faint of heart.

There’s always going to be conflict. The idea that there was, like, ever some great kumbaya period is a little bit overblown. But there is a difference between fighting over policy differences, and no matter how annoying Joe Manchin is — and he is annoying — it is still different than worrying that he is helping the president plot some kind of coup with election nonsense and stuff like this. So yeah, I mean, it was more normal even if it was frustrating, especially for progressives who really were hoping that because Democrats had full control of government, they would make a lot more policy progress than they have.

jane coaston

Not to go down the dark path towards dark town, but what are the big, scary things that you’re eyeing in 2022?

michelle cottle

So, it’s not even necessarily that they’ll hit in 2022. But as people are going about their regular lives, passing bills or working on all these details in Washington, a huge chunk of the MAGA world is convinced that the election was stolen. They are being constantly fed these lies, not just by the former President, but also it’s being indulged by Republican members of Congress, who are increasingly irresponsible.

And of course, Fox News has lost its mind in many ways. And folks like Tucker Carlson are promoting this idea that the election was stolen, the entire system is broken, and that basically it’s a free-for-all out there. And so a growing number of Republican voters think that violence is an OK response and may be necessary to right the ship.

And at the same time, people who should know better, like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, are not pushing back aggressively enough. And you have, more systematically, Republicans working to rig the game everywhere from Georgia to Michigan to Pennsylvania to Arizona. They’re pushing to fix the system so that if they don’t like the results in the future, it will be easier for them to overturn them. Once you’ve undermined the public’s faith in electoral democracy, you have opened up a can of worms and have basically just, like, announced that anything goes.

jane coaston

Is there anything that you changed your mind on this year?

michelle cottle

So after the January 6 stuff, I was hoping that some of the more responsible Republicans, even if they didn’t come out aggressively against what nonsense Trump was peddling, would be a little bit more responsible. It has been kind of amazing at how spineless most of the Republican leadership has been.

And also, it has been pleasantly surprising at how aggressive one or two people, most notably Liz Cheney, have pushed back on this. Now, I am old enough to where I have covered Liz Cheney for what feels like 100 years. And it is very strange to have the former warmongering, torture-loving, anti-gay daughter of one of the most sinister vice presidents of modern times suddenly turn out to be the party’s champion of democracy. So it’s, I’ve had to readjust my views on Liz somewhat as well.

jane coaston

Well, Michelle, thank you so much for this. And happy New Year.

michelle cottle

Happy New Year! It’s gonna be fine, Jane.

jane coaston

It’s gonna be fine. [MUSIC PLAYING]

listener voicemail 1

I can’t answer for the world whether 2021 is better than 2020, but personally, it’s been a hard year.

listener voicemail 2

I definitely spent a while grieving the life I could have had if the pandemic hadn’t happened.

listener voicemail 3

2021 was the year that I learned that humanity would not come together to fight off an alien threat.

listener voicemail 4

Personally, 2021 has been a great year for me. I’ve enjoyed watching my children grow. I’ve gotten to spend so much more time with them.

listener voicemail 5

I consider myself to be a fairly optimistic person. But I feel like this country and the world in general is spiraling.

listener voicemail 6

Honestly, I-I’ve kind of given up.

listener voicemail 7

For me, I feel fairly hopeful. And I think things are generally getting better over long periods of time. And I expect them to get better in the new year for me, and probably for us.

listener voicemail 1

As my dad always says, your life will never not have problems. You’ll always have problems, but the goal in life is to trade for better problems. And I would take 2021’s any day. And I look forward to the problems of 2022. Hope they’re better.

jane coaston

When I posed this question about the state of the world to Jamelle Bouie, another columnist here in the Opinion section, he told me that for him, it’s a tough one to answer.

jamelle bouie

Because my inclination is to say that it got worse in many ways that are important to me. The pandemic, of course, is still ongoing, and hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of it. The security and integrity of American democracy is not really looking all that great.

There’s still the former President riling up people to quote, unquote, “Stop the steal.” And Congress appears to be as gridlocked and ineffectual as ever. So [LAUGHING] from that perspective, it does seem like things have gotten worse, which makes me want to think of ways in which things got better.

My sort of inclination is always to look for the less depressing option. And the thing I’ve had a hard time with, with regards to this question, is that I can’t actually think of something — something big, right? That has gotten all that much better in 2021.

jane coaston

I mean we got a new “Matrix” this year, and we got vaccines! Vaccines are good.

jamelle bouie

Yes. OK, vaccines are good.

jane coaston

Did you have expectations coming into the year that things would improve? I’m always curious as to how we perceive a year, especially because it is a very arbitrary unit of time, how that impacts how we think about whether a year was good or bad.

jamelle bouie

I wouldn’t say they were high, but I did think things would be less omnishambles than they appear to be at the moment. I knew the vaccines were coming down, and I just assumed that everyone was gonna want to get one. And you know, well, wow, was that assumption completely off base.

jane coaston

Was there one particularly happy moment of 2021 for you? You… Had a baby? A lot happened!

jamelle bouie

Yeah, I was going to say, I’m probably sort of like obligated by the terms of my marriage to say —

jane coaston

I was about to be like, ah, there’s something in here [LAUGHING]… Jamelle?

jamelle bouie

[LAUGHING] — that I was very happy by the birth of my daughter in April. So there’s that. Setting that aside, and that’s a very big thing, one of the things that has brought me a lot of joy this year has been this kind of impromptu decision to really get into horror movies.

And so I’ve just been consuming lots of them, lots of slashers in particular. And then I’ve grown to really love the genre for it being so formulaic and for being so silly and over-the-top and outrageous. It has become a nice respite. So there’s that.

jane coaston

Can you give us your favorite horror discovery?

jamelle bouie

Sure so my approach to watching horror movies has been to kind of tackle the big franchises first. So you know, “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th” movies, the “Halloween” movies. I’m kind of watching the “Leprechaun” movies right now, which is a whole thing.

But in all of this, so far, my favorite kind of like group of movies has been this kind of trilogy within a trilogy in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. “Nightmare on Elm Street” is Freddy Krueger. That’s his domain.

And there are three movies beginning with “Nightmare on Elm Street Part Three: the Dream Warriors,” and I believe ending with five, which is called “The Dream Child,” or something. But three, four, and five all are kind of this mini trilogy about a group of teens who can move in and out of dreams at will and confront Freddy on his own turf.

And they’re not good movies. I mean, this is the important thing is, none of the things are good. But I think they’re really inventive and fun and just enjoyable watches from — mostly from start to finish. It’s fun.

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listener evie

Hi, my name is Evie, and I live in Massachusetts. This is a response to the question, have things gotten better personally and globally in 2021? And I think people are being encouraged now more than ever with the pandemic to pay attention to what’s going on outside of whatever bubble you’re a part of, whether that’s your community, your state, your country. We’re more encouraged to care more.

And I think that’s a beautiful thing. I think it can also be really difficult, at the same time, to open your eyes to what’s going around on this Earth and to care deeply about it. Something I’ve learned this year is that it’s essential for me to be an idealist.

I’ve seen myself change. And I need to extend that belief in myself to everything around me. I believe that government can change. I believe policy can change. I believe society can change. Ideologies can change, the environment can change.

I think that latching onto hope and not letting go of it is something I’ve implemented into my life. And I think that’s something that more and more people are truly starting to embody. It’s going to take a whole series of collective action. But this world is going to be a better place.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

We’ll be right back.

Welcome back to “The Argument.” I’m Jane Coaston. And 2021 was pretty OK for me, all things considered. Also, since years are arbitrary markers of time, and I’ve kind of forgotten what day, week, month, and year it is. But when things are going well for you personally while the world seems to be undergoing several different varieties of utter meltdown, it can make you feel not good.

listener voicemail 1

The country, I’m not so sure about. But my personal life has definitely been going well in the past couple of years.

listener voicemail 2

And I think there’s something kind of bittersweet about feeling like you’re making personal progress while the world circles the drain.

listener voicemail 3

A little part of me has always felt guilty that we managed to sort of complete all of our life goals while everyone else was suffering.

jane coaston

But one thing that did happen this year was that one existential global crisis started to seem a bit more solvable. This is a listener named Pat in Berkeley, California.

listener pat

One thing that I’m optimistic about is that this is probably the best time to get involved in fighting climate change. I know that when I graduated college in 2016, looking for a job in the sustainable building industry, everyone at that time kind of looked at me like I was some tree-hugging hippie.

But now, we have governments and corporations alike pouring loads of money into fighting climate change. And it’s become probably one of the sexiest things you can do for corporate branding. Outside of that, I’m pessimistic about literally everything else in American life.

jane coaston

You’re in good company, Pat. So Farhad, tell me, did the world get better or worse this year?

farhad manjoo

I would say mostly worse, but in one important area, slightly better. The important area being climate change.

jane coaston

This is my colleague Farhad Manjoo. They cover technology for the Opinion section.

farhad manjoo

So I think we made a little bit of progress on starting toward turning things around. So it’s very slight. For example, the price of renewable energy just went to the floor this year. I think it’s — like, it makes total economic sense now for the world to transition over to zero carbon electricity.

Car companies said that they were going to make a totally electric fleet. GM said by 2035, Ford said something like that. So car companies are all in. We passed a huge infrastructure bill, which has some money for climate resilience. Two years ago, there was the sense of, like, deep despair and fatalism about climate change. And I think that kind of deep sense of pessimism is maybe over.

jane coaston

What about you personally? I’ve heard from a lot of people was a lot of guilt because, while the world may have a bad year, they may themselves have had their first child or gotten married or had a big win or seen a football team do really well. How do you deal with having kind of a good year personally while the world is having a difficult time? How do you parse that out?

farhad manjoo

I think that the experience of the pandemic has made me much more mindful about, like, day to day happiness, mindful, meaning I think that I recognize it more. So there has been this dissonance for a while where, at least in the Bay Area where I live, things seem to be getting better in terms of the virus.

We’re, like, returning to, you know not normal, but my kids are going to school. And I don’t have to worry that they’re going to get sick all the time, as much as I did before, because they’re vaccinated. So yeah, I would say that for me personally, things have not turned out terribly.

And perhaps, they’re, like, slightly better than they were before. But I do feel like this feeling of stasis, generally. Like, I can’t say that things are altogether worse for me than they were before. But they also seem not that different, again, because the virus refuses to kind of go away completely.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

When everything the world feels like it’s out of control, it helps to think local. That’s what we heard from a listener named Jason in Massachusetts.

jason

I live in a small town outside Boston. It’s on the ocean. Lived here with my husband now for over 10 years. And what I’m optimistic about is, as we kind of see the other side of the pandemic, just everything that people are doing at the hyperlocal community level.

Our town is really small and not unlike a lot of other towns, where a lot of people know each other. But there’s also a lot of change, a lot of new people, a lot of different kinds of people, different families coming in. We have a Pride event every year that we built 10 years ago that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

And it’s just really exciting to see how you can make such a difference at this local level, even when things can seem kind of sad or really conflicting or angry at a larger level. So I’m feeling really optimistic about community, especially local community.

jane coaston

Tom Morello is a musician and songwriter, who you may know from bands like Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. He’s also a prolific political activist, and this year, he became a contributing writer in Opinion with a newsletter I recommend you go sign up for right now. I asked him the same question I asked you all and accidentally stumped him.

tom morello

Rarely am I befuddled by a question or at a loss for words. But this one, I have to tell you, I really could not land on a thesis. I would say that certainly for me, there have been trials and tribulations during this last year. It has been one of a continued lockdown and isolation as my 98-year-old mom and my 90-year-old mother-in-law have spent the majority of the time here.

So we’ve been sort of extremely safe with them, while having two young kids, three generations of Morellos all going absolutely insane on a daily basis. So that, I don’t know if that’s an improvement or not. But I’d say as the world in general, this is the way I look at it. I’ve been able to put out a lot of music, been able to sort of express myself while cloistered in my sort of a veal calf-like existence. But I’m hopeful— the things I’m most hopeful about is the reset that pandemic times have maybe encouraged. Something is happening in the American workforce that hasn’t happened in a long time.

From 18 to 34-year-olds, 70 percent of young people look on favorably to unions. A lot of people are quitting their crappy jobs because they just don’t want to take it anymore. It’s like sort of a “Maggie’s Farm” come to life.

My hope is that as we move into the next year, that we’ll be able to sort of manifest a more peaceful, a more just, a more equal, a more humane society with some of the trends that we’ve seen towards the end of this year, while at the same time, all wallowing in a low-grade misery and ennui.

jane coaston

When I’ve had this conversation previously today, there’s been a lot of doomerism, [MORELLO LAUGHS] and I think that as someone who has thought a lot about how to motivate the political left, what motivates the political left, doomerism does not. You can’t start thinking about, well, when the world ends, x will happen. [MORELLO LAUGHS] And it’s like, no, that’s the point. The world ends, and nothing more happens.

tom morello

[LAUGHING] Exactly.

jane coaston

So how do you think that you want to motivate, or do you think people should be motivated moving forward after this year?

tom morello

Yeah, I think, I mean, the first thing is just sort of acknowledge the reality. Like, for many decades, I have had the throttle wide open and my foot on the pedal all the way down to fight in my existence as a musician, as an activist, to change the world. I’ve never encountered the last two years of like meteor strikes of anxiety and depression that have sort of gotten in the way of that mission, just sort of like wrangling with every day and trying to kind of keep your head above the parapet, is a struggle in and of itself. Like, OK, the world is burning around us. But like, can I make it through Tuesday, has been a question that has been front and center. With regards to the broader issues of how to continue the struggle and for us to collectively, you know, twist the cap ‘til it comes off the bottle that’s stuck and making a more humane existence for humanity, I think you do it the way that it’s always been done.

First is with being conscious of the fact that we are agents of history. History is not something that happens. It’s something that we make. And nobody’s going to change the world for you.

That’s something you’ve got to do yourself, or else you remain neutral on the sidelines, and you let the people who are in power do that steering for you. And I know where that steering heads. It’s not the ditch. It’s the abyss.

jane coaston

That’s been the challenge here, is that it’s difficult to separate what’s happening for you personally from what’s happening for other people. And so you project outwards. Either it’s like, my life is shitty, ergo yours is too, [MORELLO LAUGHS] or my life is great. Why isn’t yours too?

Especially because you’re talking to people all the time, whether on picket lines, or whether people who are kind of in the movement. How do you blend those experiences to try to come to some understanding of what’s happening for other people?

tom morello

Yeah, I mean, the way that we make connections and make changes by sort of establishing that common humanity. And that’s one of the things that music is so good at, it’s a way to assert your humanity during inhumane times.

And while I haven’t been able to play a show on either a stage or a picket line in a couple of years now, which is an incredible drought, ridiculous drought. I have made a tremendous amount of music. And so for me, like music has always been, I want to express myself on the instrument, but I want to push the boundaries of guitar. I want to change the world.

Well, this time it’s been more of a life raft and an antidepressant. And it’s a way to make, during a time of isolation, to make connections and global rock and roll pen pals who may be similarly adrift during this challenging time and to make these “Atlas Underground Fire” and “Atlas Underground Flood” records have really been collaborative efforts to create bonds and friendships and connection during a time where I had sort of the least, outside of the four walls of my home, of that during my entire life.

jane coaston

Is there a song from someone else that you found yourself turning to again and again for comfort this year?

tom morello

Mmm. That’s interesting because I do — I have done a lot of sort of plague-era hiking with my dog, alone and listening. You know what? I will say this.

You may be surprised by it, but it’s Steve Earle’s “Devil Put the Coal in the Ground”

[MUSIC PLAYS – STEVE EARLE, “DEVIL PUT THE COAL IN THE GROUND”]

steve earle

(SINGING) Well the devil put the coal in the ground. Devil put the coal in the ground. Buried it deep, it’ll never be found, devil put the coal in the ground.

tom morello

It’s off his sort of album of West Virginia coal miner songs. Now, it does resonate a little bit with me because the Morellos were coal miners in Illinois, and there is some history there. But it’s a song of just desperate, hard times and sort of like, “This is my existence, and I’m proud of this existence because it’s the existence I have.”

jane coaston

Steve Earle did a studio album with Del McCoury, and there’s a song “The Mountain.” My mom’s from West Virginia, and that’s one of her favorites.

tom morello

Oh, yeah.

jane coaston

And it’s like, I’ll die on this mountain, the mountain’s my home.

tom morello

Is my home, exactly.

jane coaston

And it just is like, I will live — I will die here. This is where I am. I can see how that would be — that’s something that you would turn to, that experience.

tom morello

That’s right. That’s right. It resonates, and there is something to be said about courage being contagious. And whether it’s sort of the courage in those moments of sort of a long, gray, [LAUGHING] soundless plateau of this is where we are right now, sort of the courage to look at that and go like, OK, this is where we are right now is taking one step, at least one tentative step, away from that abyss.

jane coaston

Tom, thank you so much, and happy New Year!

tom morello

Thank you very much, and happy New Year. Best of luck to all of us.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

jane coaston

And one last thing. Even though there was a lot to get us down in 2021, our team did get a piece of good news to close out the year. If you listened to our debate on qualified immunity this summer, you may remember the story of Tony Timpa, the Texas man who called 911 during a mental health emergency and was killed by police back in 2016.

Due to qualified immunity, those officers kept their jobs. Well, last week we got an email from one of the guests in that episode, Easha Anand. She told us that her team at MacArthur Justice Center just won Tony’s case an appeal, reversing the qualified immunity protecting the officers. They will finally be going to trial. That’s a step in the right direction.

From all of us at New York Times Opinion, happy New Year.

farhad manjoo

Happy New Year to you!

listener 1

Happy New Year.

jamelle bouie

Happy New Year.

listener 2

Lots of love.

listener 3

Thank you.

listener 4

Have a great New Year!

jane coaston

May 2022 be better than the last, and may all your arguments be productive and in good faith. Go Blue.

The Argument is a production of New York Times Opinion. It’s produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez, and Vishakha Darbha. Edited by Alison Bruzek and Anabel Bacon, with original music, engineering and sound design by Isaac Jones. Fact checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks this week to Kristin Lin and Maddy Masiello.

listener 5

OK, bye!

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