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Horowitz: 5 Reasons for New Year’s Optimism

Tuesday, January 01, 2019


For the past six years, I’ve written a New Year’s column listing reasons for optimism (click here to see how I did last year). This year I do the same. It remains the nature of news and opinion writing that positive developments get short shrift. As 2019 begins, 5 reasons for optimism are outlined below:

1)      The Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, providing a needed check on President Trump. Their 40 seat pick-up in the mid-term elections not only gives the Democratic Party a workable governing majority in the House; it is their largest pick-up since the 1974 mid-terms, which were held in the wake of Watergate.  A national margin of more than 8 million votes sends a strong message of disapproval of President Trump--a resounding rejection of his reckless and unpresidential actions and behavior-- of which most elected officials are taking note, if it seems to still escape the president.

2)      Turn-out in the mid-term elections was a robust nearly 50%, far exceeding the usual mid-term elections' turn-out of about 40%.  Young voters, who are usually disproportionately absent in mid-terms, came out in impressive numbers. This all bodes well for increased engagement and participation in our democracy.

3)      Local and state governments, along with many businesses, continue to step up and do more to address climate change, giving us a good chance to meet the Paris Climate goals, despite President Trump declaring his intention to withdraw from the landmark 2015 global climate change agreement and working overtime to roll back President Obama’s initiatives to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.  The shifting energy marketplace-- in which renewable sources are becoming less expensive and coal is becoming increasingly unaffordable at least in the United States-- is another highly positive development, contributing to my optimism that it is still possible to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

4)        About 3 million adult volunteers serve as mentors to young people in the United States-a 20 % increase over the past 15 years or so.  Research shows that one-on-one mentoring is highly effective, reducing drop-out rates, and improving school performance, among other benefits.  While there is still a need for more mentors, we are on the right track, bringing this successful intervention to more youths in need of additional grown-up guidance and support.

5)       More Americans with disabilities are finding gainful and meaningful employment.  New strategies developed to assist veterans with disabilities are beginning to pay off and yield results.  These positive trends not only enable people with disabilities to lead more rewarding lives, they contribute to economic growth as research shows that people with disabilities perform as well or better in the workplace as the rest of us--as long as the appropriate levels of training and support are provided.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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