Of course 2016 was a pivotal election year, and much of it was jam-packed with pundits yacking, debates ensuing, pollsters polling — all building up to the election itself. But culturally, there were several stories that signaled a disturbing decline in what have previously been our nation’s core principles.
These issues always linger, always infiltrate, and always directly or indirectly affect political debate — even while stemming from it.
1. Abortion remained controversial
Despite the fact that the rate of abortions has steadily declined — they were at their lowest in 2016 since 1973 — abortion still remained at the forefront of the cultural, political, and legislative debates nationwide, appearing in the news almost weekly.
There were some frustrating, if not conflicting, abortion stories this year. The Irish couple who live-tweeted their abortion and used their decision to abort as a political prop to encourage Ireland to lift its strict ban.
A new study also found that while abortions are decreasing, the use of medication to cause an abortion is on the rise due to convenience and the existence of fewer Planned Parenthoods.
One of the most disturbing issues that came to light this year was the nation’s response to the House Oversight Committee’s declaration that Planned Parenthood no longer needed federal funding, and that it could function independently. Instead of slowly siphoning funding over time or severing it altogether, Republicans were unable to do either. While they did sneak such language into a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, Democrats knew this and filibustered it repeatedly until Republicans just gave in and cut that portion out. This was devastating for pro-life advocates and unborn babies nationwide.
As I reported in October,
Republicans not only undid the revealing, undercover work of the Center for Medical Progress, but blatantly ignored the conclusions the House Oversight Committee reached about PP. They traded a few days of bad press — it’s not like the government ever remains shutdown forever — for more taxpayer dollars toward an organization the Oversight Committee deemed was “self-sustaining.”
One positive trend, however, was even though Republicans were unable to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level, nearly half of the states attempted to do so, and at least 12 states were successful. This and the news that some Planned Parenthood facilities were not operating according strict health and safety codes (like hospitals must) forced many to shut down.
2. Transgender bathroom debate escalated
While abortion has been a controversial political issue for decades and really never waned in that regard, the transgender bathroom issue is newer, but just as controversial. It developed hot, fast, and replete with emotion.
Despite the fact that transgenders make up a tiny portion of the American population — less than 0.1 percent — they have argued for the last few years that using a bathroom that doesn’t coincide with their gender identity is humiliating, and they should be able to use whichever one they want.
Conservatives on the other hand, view this as confusing — especially for young children — and a violation of privacy for the 99.9 percent of the population who is not transgender.
Boosted from Bruce Jenner’s rise to fame after transitioning in 2015, as I wrote last January, men were allowed to compete as women in the Olympics. In May, Obama made a federal decree telling every public school district in the country to allow transgenders to use whichever bathroom they choose.
Transgenders and bathroom issues aside, why is the government telling schools where to use the restroom? If this is happening now, where does it end? Schools, while taxpayer-subsidized, need not be under the watchful schoolmaster’s hand of the federal government. That government is best which governs least — and locally.
Finally, one of the most pivotal transgender issues of the year is the case of Gavin Grimm, the high school girl who transitioned to boy and sued his school board because they didn’t let him use the boy’s restroom. It has worked its way up the legal system, and the Supreme Court will soon hear it, possibly changing the landscape of restrooms in public high schools for some time, thus promulgating the goal of the transgender movement:
As groups bend the rules for the sake of political correctness or file lawsuits to fight for their perceived “rights,” they will continue to push past the point of equality until they have upended others’ freedoms to secure their own. At this point, the movement has, as millennials say, “jumped the shark,” pushing well past their original plea and plowing onward toward a form of unrecognizable and inexcusable social tyranny.
3. Feminists got more absurd
Whereas the first wave of feminism heralded the mantra, “Women deserve to vote too,” the second wave shouted, “Women deserve a chance to do things men do — like work — too!” Both of those sound reasonable, if not courageous. However, feminism’s current trend, predictably called “third wave,” whimpers and whines, “Men are awful and disgusting, and women are better at everything.” This showed itself in various ways this year, from yet another push for women to be in combat to the ever-regurgitated claim that there’s still a wage gap between the sexes.
Some feminists loudly proclaimed they didn’t want kids or had them and wished they didn’t (the epitome of navel-gazing), while others tried to make the case women work so hard they need maternity leave, even if they don’t have any children.
Still others claimed “corporate feminism” was a problem — the existence of not enough women in the upper echelons of corporations (never mind women tend to take a break to have children or often don’t desire or are unqualified for those types of positions). Facts don’t matter for modern day feminists. All that matters is how men, the news, and conservative women make them feel.
Now, in the 2000s, and especially in 2016, instead of fighting for equal rights or fair treatment, feminists want to be treated differently altogether, just because they are women — the near antithesis of feminism when it began.
The movement now touts safe spaces and politically correct ideas — especially on college campuses — which makes it seem regressive rather than progressive. True feminists of yesteryear fought for noble causes like the ability to vote like men could; they didn’t seek safe spaces while hearing about ideas that hurt their feelings — like the term “rape culture” — or made them feel left out, then shout proudly, “Look how feminist I am!”
4. Millennials got lazier
I’ve got mixed feelings about millennials, in part because I am one and also because it’s sad to see not just all the awful opinions about them (many are untrue and not fact-based), but also the studies that show a segment of my generation is misguided and lazy. This is not entirely their fault: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with helicopter parents, participation awards, and cell phones. Some of this helped produce a generation of kids who just can’t stop being kids.
In September, Forbes reported the unemployment rate — 12 percent — was twice that of the nation’s average. Also, as I wrote then,
The Pew Research Center reported in May that more 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home (with mom, dad, or both parents) than are “married or cohabiting and living in their own household.” According to Pew, the biggest reason for this was their inability to find jobs to support their independence. That is one sad, pathetic, and ultimately scary statistic, especially when you consider millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.
Add these two statistics together, and it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends, so intertwined are the concepts of living on one’s own and working. Like I said, it’s tough to blame millennials completely for their plight when Mom and Dad still pay their bills.
This coddling and lack of education has produced a generation which, according to a YouGov poll released in October, thinks communism isn’t such a bad idea. More millennials preferred Karl Marx than previously thought and actually (falsely) believed more people were killed under George W. Bush’s presidency than Joseph Stalin.
As this generation is the one currently traversing their 20s and even, as in my case, already raising the next generation, it’s vital millennials drop their “special snowflake” syndrome, figure out what the facts of life are, and get to work. (For more from the author of “4 of the Worst Culture Battles That Raged in 2016” please click HERE)