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Opinion :: How remembering 2012 should (but probably won't) inspire changes
· 11:59am January 2nd, 2013
The President was named the Time Magazine "Man of the Year" after defeating a stiff, boring, flip-flopping rich dude from Massachusetts. The president -- whose party had lost big in the mid-term elections two years earlier -- ran his campaign by bragging about making America more secure by eliminating one of America's biggest enemies. His opponent tried to argue, however, that the President's health care program and other spending by his party contributed significantly to the national deficit -- something he had promised to significantly reduce four years earlier. The surprising success of the President among Latino voters indicated a growing power in that voting bloc that hinted of changes in immigration policies.
The President repeated his call to explore Mars; Congress debated extending tax cuts.
Historic hurricane devastation made some Americans question government's ability to handle natural disasters that afflict millions of people.
North Korea and Iran continued to trouble the world with because of their nuclear ambitions and radical statements by the leaders of those nations.
Oil prices soared to record highs, forcing Americans to pay more than ever for a gallon of gasoline.
An unthinkable school shooting terrified parents more than ever and sparked an international debate.
The year ended with hockey fans hoping the lockout would not end all of the NHL season.
But enough, already about 2004.
It's amazing, isn't it?
You probably thought I was referring to events of 2012 until about five seconds ago, but every thing listed above also happened in 2004.
The President, of course, was George W. Bush. The school shooting/hostage situation took place in Russia.
But the similarities between 2004 and 2012 should trouble us because they show us that we really haven't progressed nearly as much as we should have.
And while we are collectively breathing a sigh of relief over the "fiscal cliff" issue, the truth is that the last-second deal did virtually nothing to reduce our national budget crisis. All that Congress did was extend an artificial deadline without making any of the changes necessary for a sustainable fiscal future. And both parties are to blame.
But then again, Congress did exactly what most of Americans want: It continued promising benefits without providing a way to pay for them. And while virtually all Americans say they want lower deficits, when the idea of a spending cut may affect us personally, we immediately begin calling on Congress to cut the budget somewhere else.
Only about one-third of Americans think our country is on the right track. And with no long-term budget plan, no long-term plan for energy independence, and a Washington that is as bogged down as ever in partisan posturing, you can expect our national self-confidence to continue to wane.
But we can hope that like many individuals, our country begins with some positive resolutions for 2013 and beyond.
And if we don't, as a nation, start seriously working on those resolutions, we soon will look back from the year 2021 and say, yeah, we are still stuck in the same place we were in 2004.
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