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Good riddance to the year that was; awkward presidential transitions nothing new

Happy New Year and good riddance to the horrific dystopian apocalypse that will be the focus of a future historian's discussion of the events of the year 2016. In recent memory, not since the corrosive consequences of the economic panic of 2007 or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has the year ended on such a sour note. It is about time that we put 2016 behind us.

Internationally, the populist victory in the June 23, 2016 vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and Italy's recent plunge into economic and political uncertainty has rattled more than a few nerves. Italy's challenges as a result of the announced resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after the failed vote to amend the country's constitution on Dec. 5, 2016, have combined with the United Kingdom's political disarray to send seismic political shock waves across Europe.

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Adding to the fray is the shocking slaying of Andrei Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, India's currency crisis, the phoenix rise of Russia's influence in international conflicts, the ever-deepening crisis in the Middle East, and the global spread of senseless terrorism.

In 2017, we face the results of a global vacuum of effective leadership unmatched since the years before the outbreak of the first World War on July 28, 1914. Not since the Second Boer War in southern Africa from 1899- 1902, the Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905, the Thousand Day's War between Columbia and the Department of Panama in South America 1899–1902; and the Philippine–American War from 1899-1902, have we faced the worldwide instability of today's magnitude.

New Year's Day is a time for new beginnings, new hopes, and new opportunities. However, at the dawn of the new year, the press has never been more irresponsibly biased since the days before the Spanish American War; our economy continues to flounder and the only thing successful in Washington is mindless partisan politics and banana republic leadership. In January, our nation faces a media circus and a great deal of political uncertainty as a new administration assumes power in Washington on January 20, 2017.

Our country has a long history of awkward presidential transitions dating back to the election of 1800 in which Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams. So bitter was the election, that Adams refused to attend Jefferson's inauguration.

In the election of 1828, Andrew Jackson defeated incumbent President John Quincy Adams. After the election, Adams fled from Washington as Jackson supporters laid siege to the White House.

Between the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861, seven states voted to leave the country.

When Ulysses S. Grant became the 18th president of the United States on March 4, 1869, he refused to sit with the outgoing president, Andrew Johnson during the inauguration exercises.

A friend once wrote that New Year's Eve is when "an optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."

On January 8, 1898 a local newspaper, the American Sentinel reported, "The New Year, 1898, was greeted in Westminster by the firing of guns [and] the ringing of bells ..."

I am fairly certain that Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding, Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees, and State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo would heartily disapprove of "the firing of guns" as part of the celebrations in Carroll County. However, it is a well-accepted tradition that loud noises frighten away the evil spirits. This is why noisemakers are used to ring in the New Year.

I hope the noise for this year's celebrations is deafening.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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