Thu. Jun 8th, 2023

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Michele L. Norris: I saw two older Black women at a fancy black-tie event in Washington in the late fall, and I thought about them for days afterward. I kept remembering how appreciative they seemed when I complimented them on how “fly” they were. Now, I know that’s a term we usually apply to young folks, but trust me: This was the right adjective.
They wore elegant gowns tailored to show off the figures of two women who obviously took good care of themselves. Not a hair was out of place, and their handbags and jewelry sparkled like the galaxy. They wore bright lipstick and bright colors — fuchsia and sky blue — bucking the trend of Washington women in black and navy blue, as if there were some edict to blend into the background as they age.
No, these two women showed up on the scene to be seen, even though they moved slowly, leaning into each other, one of them holding a black cane for support.
Over time, I realized why my mind kept going back to them: Those elegant silver queens were survivors who had lived through moments every bit as challenging and divided as we face now.
I realized that those women, and my own mother — as well as the once-marginalized elderly people I see everywhere who are still enjoying life in a country that did not imagine their full humanity — give me hope for a more stable future in these times of tumult and uncertainty.
They say that faith rests in the gossamer evidence of things not seen or understood. For me, hope sometimes shimmers in the little things you can see that help toss off that forbidding cloak of cynicism and despair: the return of festive holiday lights, the promise of daffodils that will pop up in the spring, the stories of congressional aides from warring political parties who secretly play softball together because they discovered they actually like each other — and the sight of two spangly brown-skinned women at an event that probably would not have included anyone who looked like them, or frankly me, just a few decades ago.
I loved to see those confident elderly fashionistas and the giggly effervescence of a long-term friendship.
Their very presence in a room full of folks with fancy titles and marquee names said that whatever forces that might have tried to slow their roll in life didn’t win. Those forces did not diminish their purpose. They didn’t steal their joy.
The women were elegant avatars for a generation that strived against the headwinds of racial hate and gender bias. They fought for changes they never fully expected in their lifetimes. They faced up to their fears and pushed forward not just for personal reward but also to pave a path for people like me and my children and my children’s children.
That gives me hope. But hope takes so many forms. Read on to hear what hopes my colleagues hold for the new year — and then tell us about your own.
Jennifer Rubin: As one who raised the alarm that the Justice Department was passive and unduly cautious in pursuing former president Donald Trump, I am increasingly hopeful — confident, even — that those fears were misplaced. The Justice Department, as Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed, is following the facts and the law. We have every reason to expect that the man who launched the “big lie” and an attempted coup, incited a mob, and made off with top-secret documents will face criminal indictment in 2023. Accountability is a critical component for democracies, and as the Justice Department vigorously pursues Trump “without fear or favor,” we are seeing the guardrails of democracy and the rule of law reestablished.
Hugh Hewitt: In July, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed the most expansive school choice legislation in American history. Arizona students who opted in will receive about $7,000 to use for a public school, private school — secular or religious — or home schooling. Republican governors backed by GOP supermajorities in Iowa and Ohio promise breakthrough legislation building on the Arizona model in the coming year, meaning 2023 could be the start of a golden era of American education, fueled by a commitment to excellence for every student and made possible by empowering parents to choose what’s best for their children.
E.J. Dionne Jr.: My hopes for 2023 are driven by the next generation and by the many signs that democracy is stronger globally than it was even a year ago. Thanks to my teaching and my own children, I encounter many who are younger than 35. Their commitment to social justice, personal freedom and political reform is inspiring — and their role in our public life will only grow. In the competition between authoritarian and democratic forces, the small-d democrats showed their vitality around the world, most dramatically in Ukraine. So let’s join in cheering democratization powered by the energy of the young.
Jonathan Capehart: Forget about Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) paperwork departure from the Democratic Party. Its Senate majority, secured by some kind of gravity-defying political sorcery (and incredible candidates), is a source of hope for 2023. Sure, the incoming Republican House majority with its weak speaker (whoever that might be) promises to be quicksand in the road of governance. But the Senate will continue confirming federal judges who will balance out the cadre of conservatives installed in the Trump years. They will be the front line in defending our democracy and the constitutional rights that make us a beacon for the world.
Ann Telnaes:
Gary Abernathy: Millions of Americans either deal personally with major illnesses or have loved ones waging battles against chronic or life-threatening conditions. In recent years — and especially throughout 2022 — it has been striking how many diseases and conditions scientists find themselves on the verge of conquering. According to reports, science seems on the threshold of unlocking the mysteries that could lead to cures or game-changing treatments for diabetes, Parkinson’s, HIV, many types of cancers and heart conditions, and more. When it comes to modern medicine, there’s reason to hope that 2023 will be the Year of Miracles.
Alexandra Petri: What gives me hope? This amazing box full of probably treats that I just received from the Olympian gods themselves! I’m so excited to open it! They did technically say not to open the box, but I’m sure they meant that to be taken seriously but not literally! Look at this box, full of definitely good things! How could you just let it sit there, closed? That would be the worst outcome I can imagine, to just leave the box unopened, never knowing what might come flying out if I lifted the lid! No, I’m definitely going to open it. 2023 is going to be an amazing year!
Eugene Robinson: I found hope this year in an unexpected place: the Supreme Court. I’m not talking about all the decisions that went the wrong way, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I’m talking about the court’s newest member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has already shown she is a force to be reckoned with. The first Black woman to serve on the high court, Jackson displayed no newcomer’s shyness. At oral arguments, she jumped immediately into the fray with sharp questions and knotty hypotheticals that boiled issues down to their essence. She showed the rare ability to be argumentative and collegial at the same time. In most contentious cases, she will not have the votes to prevail, at least for the foreseeable future. But it makes me hopeful that she will be in the room where it happens, because she has the brilliance and the skills to change minds.
Megan McArdle: I spend less time than I used to yelling at people on social media. Moreover, I talk to more and more people who say the same thing. People seem to have gotten bored with the pathological rage-seeking and virtue-signaling behavior that has characterized so much of the internet for the past five or 10 years — particularly for media and academia. The bullying disguised as piety, the compulsive need to find offense where none was intended, and the deliberate provocations intended to work the other side up into a frenzy are not what the cool people are doing anymore, thank heavens. It was always fatiguing, and now, apparently, the excitement has been exhausted. So my great hope for 2023 is that perhaps, instead of looking for reasons to hate each other, we might start rediscovering our common humanity.
Michael de Adder:
Catherine Rampell: My reason to be hopeful is: Batteries! There has been huge investment in renewable energy generation in recent years, not for bleeding-heart environmentalist reasons but economic ones: Once the wind turbine or solar array is built, wind and sunshine are free. So clean energy can be much cheaper than legacy fossil fuels. Renewable energy generation can be volatile, though; coal and natural gas are still needed to fill in gaps when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Fortunately, battery technology has been improving, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration now projects that utility-scale battery storage capacity will more than double next year and nearly quadruple by 2025. This could be a game changer for clean energy adoption — and the planet.
Karen Attiah: I’ve hated reading about books by Black authors being banned in schools under the right-wing panic over so-called critical race theory. It cheers me up, as a Black woman, to know that Haymarket Books is republishing “Black Women Writers at Work,” a 1984 collection of interviews with Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni and many others that has long been out of print and difficult to find. The January rerelease gives me hope that I and so many more will have access to the wisdom of these Black feminist icons.
Helaine Olen: Humans are social creatures. But the past few years have not been kind to in-person gatherings. Zoom cocktail parties can’t substitute for real ones. Friendship mediated through a screen is not the same as sitting with one another in real life. All this left us isolated — and it seemed to make our political divisions worse. But as we are learning to live with the coronavirus, we are again going to gatherings large and small. And as we are doing that, we are not just seeing old pals but also making new ones. So it’s the resilience of the human spirit to connect that gives me hope for 2023. We are not as divided and alone as it can sometimes appear.
David Von Drehle: Screenwriter William Goldman famously said of Hollywood that “nobody knows anything.” I believe his insight has more general application. Our lives are an education that no one ever completes. And if no one knows, then conventional wisdom is likely to be wrong. That’s what makes me so hopeful and so eager for the future: the widespread doom and gloom. What good is pessimism? I used to think hope was a product of external facts, but the school of life has convinced me otherwise. Hope is a choice, strengthened through practice; not a reflection of light, but light itself.


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