You did it — you survived 2020! Sure it’s a little early in the day, but raise a glass! You deserve it.
As I’ve been saying for the past 12 months as I reached for another Bushmills: “It’s 2021 somewhere!”
The marketing pros tell us that the words “new and improved” sell a lot of product. And by definition Jan.1 has the “new” part covered. I’m writing on behalf of “improved.” I sincerely believe 2021 is going to be a better year.
First, because short of nuclear war or a catastrophic meteor strike, it’s hard to imagine it being worse. (Though as I suffered through “Wonder Woman 1984,” I had my doubts.)
Second, if 2020 was “The Year of COVID,” 2021 is shaping up as the “Year of the Cure.” Two vaccines approved, a third got the go-ahead from the U.K. this week and others are in the works.
More than 3 million Americans have already gotten the jab. Of course the media is grousing that it’s not 30 million, but these are the same cable-news cranks who dismissed the idea of a 2020 vaccine as impossible.
Which brings us to another potential ray of 2021 sunshine: the mainstream media. For four years, the press has been pounding away at the pillars of its own credibility, insisting that the (untrue) Russiagate story was worth two years of non-stop, breathless hype; but the (true) story of Hunter Biden/Ukraine/China story was beneath them.
Having been repeatedly caught red-handed, there’s going to be pressure on the professional press (aka “not CNN”) to prove they can still do something resembling journalism. In addition, every negative Biden story they try to bury is going to be met with cries of “But when Trump did it …”
Is the media so shamelessly partisan they will simply push through with pro-Biden propaganda and pretend the Trump years never happened? At CNN — absolutely. But at the New York Times, at CBS and other serious news establishments, there’s enough leftover residue of journalistic integrity to have an impact this year.
And then there are the positive effects emerging from the COVID pandemic. I know that sounds cruel, particularly to families who lost loved ones in the pandemic. But just as our reaction to the horror of World War II helped create the American economy that dominated the globe, the response to COVID-19 is creating unintended positive results as well.
Think of all the Bay Staters who, even after the lockdowns end, will never have to sit in Boston traffic again thanks to the new work-from-home economy. Every hour not spent in a car is another hour Mom or Dad can help with homework — or just homeschool their kids entirely.
As a supporter of school choice — or more accurately, an opponent of the overpriced, under-achieving government school monopoly — I believe teachers unions will continue to pay the price for the shameless greed and self-interest they displayed as they needlessly forced kids into a remote learning regime they knew was failing.
Parents will never look at these union flaks the same way again.
And finally, 2021 will be the year we remember how much we like each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when friends or co-workers have the chance to hang out again, I believe there’s going to be less focus on the politics that divide us and more attention on the humanity that binds us.
Sure the Social Justice Warriors will continue to wail, and Trump’s desperate need to remain relevant will drive him to pick Twitter fights — but who’s going to listen? After a year living under lockdown, who will want to waste time on that nonsense?
Of all the things that will improve in 2021, the most important will be how we treat each other. It won’t be a revolution, the social-media psychosis won’t disappear over night. But we’ll have a new appreciation for each other. And that’s the best improvement of all.
Michael Graham is a regular contributor to the Boston Herald. Follow him on Twitter @IAmMGraham.