I will remember 2022 fondly as the Year of Heroes. It was the year my grandsons introduced me to the world of Harry Potter. I’m surprised, actually, that these books and films are so popular among children because they transport us to a dark and often fearsome world. J.K. Rowling is a wildly imaginative fabricator of the shadow side of a magical universe. There are eight books in the series, so we know Harry will survive at least until the eighth, which hardly seems likely considering that Lord Voldemort and his minions are so deeply dedicated to his demise. He is one unflappably heroic kid. The books and movies give my grandsons and me plenty to talk about.

And speaking of dark universes, I binge-watched the first few seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale. Yikes. Yet the main character, June, becomes progressively more heroic with each episode. Our reactionary Supreme Court majority would feel right at home in that dystopia.

By comparison, the real world seems a remarkably bright, promising and positive place.

Unless you live in Ukraine. What a heroic and inspiring people, led by Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But if Donald Trump had won the 2020 election, Ukraine would no longer be an independent nation. I can’t help wondering why the national media doesn’t point that out more often. God bless Joe Biden, the Democrats, the NATO alliance and the American people for supporting the Ukrainians and exposing Voldemort Putin, Trump’s leadership model, for the war criminal he is.

In this country, we still have a democracy, thanks to millions of American voters who rose to the occasion in the November midterms. Let’s hear it for young voters, women, and especially the citizens of Georgia who elected Raphael Warnock as their senator for the fourth time in two years! Black Americans often say they have to be twice as good as white Americans in order to get where they want to go, but four times better? Whatever it takes, I guess, which makes Sen. Warnock a hero — as is Sen. John Fetterman, who battled through a stroke, for heaven’s sake, to flip a Senate seat, plus the Pennsylvania voters who recognized quality over yet another Trump imposter.

Democracy did not go unscathed — carpetbagger J.D. Vance in Ohio, for instance, sold his soul to win a Senate seat that should have gone to the far more impressive Tim Ryan. Good luck to Vance going forward, minus his humanity. And the Republican Clown Show is back in control of the House of Representatives thanks to unlimited gerrymandering of districts in Red states and restricted gerrymandering in California and New York, which enabled the seditionists to squeeze out the barest of majorities so they can pursue their highest domestic priority: impeaching the president for the high crime of being the father of Hunter Biden.

None of that, however, takes away from the heroism of the quiet majority of American voters — left and center right — who defeated election deniers, liars and democracy despisers, despite the national media’s hammering, yammering predictions for two full years that Democrats, and democracy, would suffer devastating losses in the midterms. It would be lovely if we could persuade the pundits and pollsters to take a much-needed vacation from the suffering succotash of their shallow sophistry during this next election cycle, because defenders of democracy have now won two of the three elections necessary to save our system (SOS) and we really need that three-peat. We have to win one more time in 2024 to drive the stake into the vampire heart of the MAGA Authoritarian Movement.

Nonetheless, two heroic wins in two years warrants celebration and American voters have richly earned 2022’s Citizens of the Year Award. We proved that democracy still has a pulse.

And speaking of proof, the January 6 Commission, heroes all — especially Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and the Republican witnesses who testified — built an irrefutable case against Trump and his loyalist traitors. Let’s hope the Justice Dept. proves equally heroic by indicting them in 2023.

But the final word on democracy this year goes to Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist (MLK’s church), who prevailed by taking the high road throughout his four-part electoral marathon. As Economist magazine put it in their recent profile: “[Warnock] likes to say that ‘democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea, the sacred worth of all human beings’; that ‘a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire’; that ‘legislation is a letter to our children.’ ‘And if we ask ourselves what we want that letter to say,’ he told rapt students at the Georgia Institute of Technology the day before the election, ‘we might actually get it right.’”

Amen to that, Rev. Warnock.

And speaking of “the sacred worth of human beings,” nothing (in my 2022) highlighted that more than the arrival of granddaughter Charlotte Trainor, aka Charlee, born on Nov. 4, a perfect gift heading into the holidays. She is gold, frankincense and myrrh, all tied up in one beautiful bundle as she begins her heroic journey through life.

 With notable exceptions, may 2023 be kind to those mentioned above, and to the rest of us as we pray — and keep voting — for democracy, and a better world.

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