Very different anniversaries this week

It’s helpful to remember the past, to learn from both the good and bad. Neither should be forgotten. Reliving the good can bring us joy and give us a chance to say thank you. Vowing never to repeat the really ugly moments can make us smarter and make our communities better.

This week presents just such an opportunity.

It was a year ago, Jan. 1, that I purchased the Wrangell Sentinel for the third time, proving that you can pay an accountant for wise tax and financial advice but you don’t have to pay attention. It’s been exhaustively fun, reconnecting with friends, remembering local debates that have not changed much in almost a half-century, walking through town and not bothering to put up my hood against the rain since the wind will just blow it off anyway.

It’s taken a lot more work — and money — than I had expected to bring back the Sentinel nearer to the quality the community deserves. It’s not all the way there yet, but the newspaper made solid improvements in 2021 and will continue in that direction in 2022.

And just so that no one mistakenly thinks I am taking credit for everything, or even most of anything, much of the recognition should be directed to office manager Amber Armstrong, editor Marc Lutz and reporter Sarah Aslam, who care deeply about the newspaper and the community. So much so that they accept my constant editing and nudging to make the Sentinel even better.

That’s the good anniversary of this week.

The bad anniversary is the destructive riot that overwhelmed U.S. Capitol police and damaged the nation a year ago today, when far too many Americans listened far too much to a liar and stormed the building in an attempt to block Congress from certifying the election of a new president.

Donald Trump has lied to the nation, his wives, most likely his girlfriends, his lenders and bankers and tax accountants, business partners, contractors and anyone who would listen to his deceit over the decades. The state ferry Matanuska is more trustworthy than Trump, who ran the ship of state like he was the captain of the Exxon Valdez.

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, and no court or state-ordered inquiry has found otherwise. Yet the master showman, the king of bankruptcy (six times) never admits defeat or responsibility. Sadly, he has managed to convince millions of Americans that he is right, that every judge is wrong, that everyone who votes against him is a bad person, and that only he (and his children) can save the country.

Problem is, just as in his bankruptcies, he walks away and sticks others with the mess when his claims turn out to be as dishonest as his tweets.

The election is long over, but the Trump-fueled anger and distrust, the false claims and loud yelling continue to hurt the country and our democracy, with far too many opportunistic politicians, candidates, commentators and social media profiteers repeating the lies for their own gain.

Thankfully, sometimes, an elected official speaks up and says it’s time to stop. Kathleen Bernier, a Republican state senator and former elections clerk in Wisconsin, recently denounced her party’s Trump-inspired efforts to seize control of the election process. “These made-up things that people do to jazz up the base is just despicable, and I don’t believe any elected legislator should play that game,” Bernier said.

I hope that a year from now the country will be celebrating Bernier’s honesty and courage, rather than defending her against an attack from Trump.

 

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