Happy New Year, World

The passage of a year, or even ten years, is an insignificant event on a planet that is millions (sorry Sunday School teachers of my past ☹️) of years old. Sure, it’s fun to have parties and mark the passing of another year, but we make more of it than it is. You won’t be a different person tomorrow, most likely, and the world around you is unlikely to be much different either. Don’t put off the changes you want to make over the passage of an artificial construct. It’s just another calendar date changing.

Some years are different than others though, and sometimes it’s worth noting the way the entire past year changed you. This past year, I lived. I experienced new things and places I never had before, and I found new likes. For the first time in my life I went west of Lincoln, NE. I spent a couple months in Las Vegas, Easter in LA, went to California for the first time, crossed the Rockies, went to Hoover Dam, and saw Death Valley. In the west I found how much I actually enjoy nature (I know, odd living in Vegas) and our national parks. The mountains, the deserts, even the Pacific Ocean, it’s all just different out West. That first time I flew over the Rockies was basically a religious experience for me. I definitely caught the bug. 🏜

It wasn’t just the West though that I found this year. I went to Memphis and experienced Beale Street, the home of the blues. I had barbecue in Kansas City. I saw the arch in St. Louis. For the first time in 18 years (and second time in my life), I went to Boston. I saw a lot of new places this year, and my appreciation for America grew a lot.

One place I have to say surprised with how cool it was? Tennessee. I had the least expectations for the “Volunteer state” of all the places I visited, and it was awesome. All the music history in that state, they not only are the capitol of country and the blues, they really helped create rock there. They’ve preserved it in both Nashville and Memphis, but Memphis really caught my mind. That’s one great River town.

2022 was also a very retro year for me though. For the first time in 14 years, and third and fourth time in my life, I was at a Phillies World Series game. It was like Californication in 1999 again when I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Meadowlands. Seeing Aerosmith was commonplace in my teen years, until it wasn’t, then this year I’m sitting in Fenway watching their 50th anniversary show. All that was old was new again. I still like what I like.

One thing about experiencing things from your past later on in life is that you appreciate them more. You take it in more. And it makes you value those past experiences more. I appreciate more of what I’ve seen, because of what I saw now.

I don’t want to pretend everything about 2022 was great though, that nothing was wrong. Some people came, some people and things left. I grappled with aging, as I’ll exit my 30’s early next year. I left my college’s alumni board, as I finished my last term. There were times I felt old, and I don’t mean that physically. I mean in my mind. Like maybe the best days we’re behind me. Maybe there’s no new heights to reach. Maybe the last 20 years or so of adulthood weren’t worth it. I’ve had depression in the past, and it flared up at times again. Like I said, there were struggles. It really was a great year overall, but it had its moments too.

I’ve spent my entire adult life in politics, I think politics is very important. Voting and being an informed citizen is important. Serving in any capacity is important. As important as it is, my relationship to politics is changing. I’m coming to believe our politics may be fundamentally broken. I’m actually pleasantly happy with President Biden on the policy and governance side, I think he’s got a lot of good things done. I will vote for him again. Unfortunately his election has not ended the polarization the way I had hoped, in part because no one really wants to end it. I struggled until lunch on Election Day to fill my vote-by-mail ballot in, basically because I was disgusted by the vote I had to cast for one particular office. I thought our candidate was entirely inappropriate to serve, but their candidate was such a particularly terrible person that I had to vote against them. I find myself siding against the people advocating for maximum free speech, which feels dirty to me, but they want to amplify hate speech, conspiracy theories, and junk science, without consequence. Our politics is now infested with grifters seeking riches, idiots that want to be powerful, self-important people, people armed with only ignorant opinions they just arrived at, and angry people that know very little about governance, but walk in the door with a set of demands, because they are going to change the world. The political industry in which I have spent my life, is pulling us towards an algorithmic existence where we think 50% of the population are evil and stupid, but our 50% can do no wrong. A few of us are experienced and involved enough to know better, but many won’t admit how broken it all is. We’re two years removed from an attempted coup in America, but I’m not sure we’re better off.

We have one group of activists obsessed with guns, calling their opponents pedos, conspiracy nonsense, and the two trans athletes they can name that were good at their sports, while worshipping a fat, stupid, corrupt ignoramus as their God. On the opposite side, you have a mish-mash of cancel culture, sensitivity police, do-nothing Socialists, and each and every pet cause you can think of. Then you have everyone else, who hate all of this, but select a side because they know it’s important. It is important. Who governs matters a lot to billions of lives. Right now, only one political party is fit to govern, but let’s not pretend that party is in a great place.

Politics was good to me again though. I ran some projects doing registration, turnout, and petitions for ballot initiatives, mostly in new places. I also wrote mail for the first time, which is different than anything I’ve ever done before. It was good to get different experiences, and I look forward to doing more with that in the new year, with my own new LLC’s in place. I guess, may we prosper?

In 2023, much of the work out there will be local elections, maybe the most directly consequential kind of elections. I like working on these races because they are the furthest removed from the nonsense the national folks put you through. You just try to get good people elected. It’s more pure. I feel better about it. Frankly it’s not a big racket.

It was tough saying goodbye to my 15 year old dog, Sweetpea this past September. She had a long, good life, and a fighting spirit to the very bitter end. I’ve had three dogs, and I’m now down to one. I’m reminded that while there with us only part of their life, we’re there with them for their whole life. If you do it right, they’re part of the family.

It was a good year to be a Philadelphia sports fan. The Phillies won the pennant and the Eagles have the best record in football. Sure, there were playoff losses for the Eagles and Sixers this year, but it was a good one overall. Beggars can’t be choosers. This coming year should be better.

The year in sports on the whole was pretty fun to watch. Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl was rigged, but the halftime show was fire, so that’s cool. Aaron Judge made history with 62 homers, the American League record. Thank God Golden State spared us from ESPN’s Boston love fest. And thank you UNC for sparing us from weeks of Duke tributes. Georgia beat ‘Bama for the 2021 title in 2022, and I’ll give you quick glimpse of the future- they’re going to do it again. They should just put all SEC teams in the playoffs.

One of the cool things about what I do is the people I meet and the places I go. I’m blessed by it. I have a job that constantly makes me think and consider points of view that aren’t mine. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. To the many people I spent time with, or met randomly this year, thank you. My world is a little bigger, and I’m a little better, because of you. To my closest friends, the ones I drive all over creation to see, and those in Easton, thank you for being a part of my life. I couldn’t do it without you.

I’m not really looking forward to 2023. I actually enjoyed most of 2022. I’m happy. I feel fit and ready to go. I’m hoping for good things. By the same token, there are storm clouds on the horizon though, and I’m preparing for some things in life that won’t be easy. I’m just hoping I’m ready to face them when it’s time.

We are coming to the end of the global social media age. I don’t think it will die, but it’s going to change. What started as a great way to connect and bring people together has now become a world of megalomaniacs spouting off nonsense, and a place for people who have bad ideas to connect. We are a world at war, living in disinformation, being radicalized, and becoming more polarized. I hope for our leaders to show wisdom in leading us through dangerous times.

Back in 2016, after the election, I told some friends in a DC bar that I thought we were entering the most chaotic, dangerous 20 years possibly in modern history. I absolutely believe that. The good news is, we’re one year closer to getting through it.

God bless you all. Here’s some more pictures from this year. See you on the other side of the night.

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