As we bring to a close this year of 2012, I would like to spend a moment or two considering what it may look like in our history books.
The year began with the Republican Party staging its primaries to determine the next candidate for President. With one or two notable exceptions the field was made up of aging white men, who showed almost immediately they were out of touch with the key groups that would become instrumental in deciding the election. The party settled on a relatively moderate candidate who had to show he was a staunch conservative to fulfill party expectations. With the assistance of Jimmy Carter’s nephew he fatally shot himself in the foot. The astute political analysts at Fox News showed they too had no understanding of how Mr. Romney’s changing positions would play out in the general population.
The President, on the other hand, had an easy ride into the nomination, but still spent most of his time campaigning on the class warfare issues he had begun in the first two years of his term. He encouraged radical debate with the #OWS crowd, and reinforced the position that Tea Party conservatives were racially biased radicals bent on the destruction of the United States. He was aided in this with media support on MSNBC, CNN, and the other main stream media, who claimed almost any criticism of the President was a racial attack.
In the course of the campaign both sides raised, and I assume spent, more than a billion dollars to secure this great position of public service. We saw the left attack the super PAC concept, made legal in the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission that overturned sections of the Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (AKA McCain-Feingold Act), saying Super PAC involvement corrupted the political process. Meanwhile labor unions contributed millions of dollars to support Democratic candidates without much fanfare, but that is a much more historical approach to buying political influence.
When the Republican Governor of Wisconsin set into motion the overturning of the Teacher’s Union contracts and rights on collective bargaining there was a huge and ugly labor movement attempt to recall him, and reinstate the rights of the Union to force local governments to meet teacher demands before all else. The recall election failed, and the state seems to be moving towards a more fiscally stable situation, although the Unions continue their protests at the state capital in Madison.
As part of the last budget crisis, when we reached the debt ceiling, Congress implemented a Sword of Damocles approach to supposedly force them to take action on addressing the balance between Federal income versus expenditure. They established a bipartisan commission to look at solutions. The commission made its report and the Congress immediately rejected them. We continue to spend more than we take in, and tomorrow I expect we will fall off this financial cliff, and for the Executive Branch we will experience sequestration, although no one has actually defined what that means. Of historical note: during the second Presidential debate President Obama made the declarative statement that “sequestration would not happen.” It is easy to make promises when no one expects you will actually have to keep them.
Facebook had a big initial public offering (IPO) that made the initial investors in the company billionaires. The stock immediately lost a goodly part of its value for those who just had to be part of the IPO. The finger pointing continues on that one.
Gay rights continue to expand, and more states are approving the right to marry. While I am personally not a big fan of this, I view it as the appropriate course of action for our country. This should be a States issue and the Federal Government should not interject itself in the rights of a state to govern its citizens in those areas not specifically granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution.
In the military the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was, at the end of the day, a big yawn. All the nay saying of the senior leaders proved to be unfounded. Moral and discipline seems to be about the same place it was before the new approvals were implemented. The military is predominately made up of young people, and they have accepted this change without the reservations and hostilities the older officers and civilian leaders showed. Interestingly, one of the sticking points for fully implementing these new rules is the Defense of Marriage Act.
September 19th remains Talk Like a Pirate day.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). As we enter into the New Year it will be interesting to see what kind of economic impact the new taxes have on our businesses, and their employees.
Robotic surgery continues to quietly expand with devices like De Vinci and I think the time is not far off where our doctors are not even in the same hospital as the patient.
We have a new rover on Mars, and man has broken the sound barrier, this time without a plane to protect him.
The world didn’t end with the end of the Mayan calendar; apparently it was only the desk version and not the whole thing.
I hope everyone has a great 2013.