The Pursuit of Happiness


I’ve already broken my 2018 New Year’s resolutions. This heads-up, proactive strategy goes a long way toward banishing the inevitable feelings of self-loathing that underpin most of my self-improvement plans. During 2017, I was fat and old and deaf. In 2018, I will be fatter and older and deafer… with luck. Here are two resolutions I hope to keep:

I’m going to refrain from talking about Donald Trump this year. The world is messy, but it’s an interesting and often dazzling place that doesn’t deserve the contempt Trump and his supporters hold for it. If Republican voters haven’t caught on by now that Trump is a metastasizing sociopath – who’s turned their party and the world into an abattoir of selfishness – they never will. There’s nothing left to say to them except, “bless your heart.”

There’s a glimmer – a faint articulating glimmer – the Democratic Party is ready to put the Clinton years behind them. Let me give them one last reason – I promise – why that’s a good idea. In 1997, Bill Clinton capped medical residencies in the US at 1996 levels – where it remains 21 years later. That Clinton Administration order is directly related to the critical shortage of physicians in the U.S., about 91,000 short as of today. Democrats shouldn’t do stuff like that anymore, okay?

I’ve always believed that the world would become a more civil, enlightened, and peaceful place with the passage of time. That belief was tested last year. It’s possible we’re just monkeys with guns whose overriding anxiety is about making consecutive payments on $40,000 pickup trucks. But maybe not. Maybe this wave of nationalism is simply a tribal upchuck before we get back to demanding substance over symbols. And that goes for our state legislators: by all means, pop that Ten Commandments monument back up on public property. But do us a favor and keep the commandments too. We’re tired of you worshipping special interest fatted calves.  

I’m relieved 2017 is over. It was the year too many Americans personified Mel Brook’s definition of comedy and tragedy: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”