Two women look for lost items after Hurricane Dorian passed...

Two women look for lost items after Hurricane Dorian passed through in The Mudd area of Marsh Harbour on Sept. 5, 2019 in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. Powerful storms driven by climate change were prevalent in 2019. Credit: Jose Jimenez

 This year started with such promise, as NASA’s spacecraft New Horizons flew by the most distant world ever explored.

The unmanned mission, a scientific miracle, delivered a stirring January message about American ingenuity, humanity, and the mysteries of the universe. The rest of 2019 was less lofty.

It was a year of grinding politics. A rookie Democratic-controlled State Legislature went through a jam-packed and sometimes chaotic legislative session, from overdue voting changes to complicated criminal justice reforms. Local fraud and abuse continued as usual, with the convictions of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

All the while, Washington was a tempest, with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election coming and going. White House scandals and travesties popped from the Mexican border to Ukraine.

Ultimately, 2019 saw just the third impeachment of an American president.

There were devastating storms over the Bahamas and fires in California as climate change created havoc around the globe. The world seemed to spiral, with protests in Hong Kong and authoritarian or populist movements gaining steam from India to Eastern Europe to Britain. American troops continued to fight and die in the Middle East, as the truth about the long war in Afghanistan only continued to come out.

There were bright spots. Yankee great Mariano Rivera was unanimously voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Women’s soccer team dominated the World Cup. Even Congress made the belated promise to care for 9/11 first responders permanent.

Those good moments can be hard to clock. With a presidential election coming, time will only speed up. But some things endure, like that New Horizons mission. The spacecraft is still transmitting data from the January flyby. And it’s still healthy, traveling 31,000 mph toward future discoveries, more and more distant from Earth. 

— The editorial board