2016 was not the greatest year. It's become a common refrain on the internet: from January through December, 2016 seemed pretty awful. The Syrian Civil War went from awful to horrifying. A bunch of musicians that I truly love died (seriously, David Bowie, George Martin, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, have all long been in my top 20 artists of all time — this feels almost personal). Wells Fargo scammed millions from its customers. Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos turned out to be a liar. So did Ryan Lochte. We all had to develop strong, angry opinions about Brexit despite seemingly nobody knowing what was going on.
Oh yeah, and there was also an election. And it was that moment of the election, that really made 2016 the worst. It's not just that Hillary Clinton lost or Donald Trump won (though personally, I'm not overjoyed by the result). It's that we realized, without any sort of doubt, that this year's story was the story we so badly didn't want it to be.
2016 wasn't a year of darkness leading towards a bright and luminous light. It wasn't darkest before the dawn. It was just dark, just like it had been for 11 months before. After an election that had been about emails, immigration, readiness for office, twitter, emails, sexism, the environment, taxes, emails, abortion, Russia, the minimum wage, and emails, we spent that first week of November, and the last of the election, talking about emails all over again.
Four days after the election, Kate McKinnon displayed the mood of the year in character as Hillary Clinton, during the cold open for the week's Saturday Night Live.
Leonard Cohen, who had through his whole career delighted in the beauty of darkness, and died just a day before the election, seemed suddenly like the proper soundtrack for the whole year. Because we realized that this year wasn't an aberration, wasn't a moment of difficulty we'd all get through. We spent most of November (as we have through December) realizing what a Donald Trump presidency actually looks like.
November was the month when 2016 stopped being just a bad year. It was the year when all the difficulties of the past 10 months suddenly became prologue to an even more difficult coming time. We realized that we couldn't close the book on 2016. We have to survive 2017, too.