History, contentious politics mark 2009

Editorial Board

As Bob Dylan once sang, “These times they are a changin’,” and nothing that has been said since the late sixties could be truer.

As the holiday season descends upon us, it is perhaps time for a little bit of reflection on what has happened so far this year.

Way back in January, the New Year was rung in with the inauguration of a new president. New in a context that perhaps was overly romanticized but yet cannot be forgotten.

In a country that has dealt with the racial and ethnic tensions that the United States has experienced throughout it’s history, it is worth noting the fact that for the first time in it’s history the electorate chose what was considered not the “African-American Candidate” but the best, “American Candidate” (despite what the birther movement might think).

The year also continued with signs of the changing times with new elections taking place in countries that wouldn’t have even held elections in the past like Iran, Afghanistan (where we still wait to see what the president wants to do on the ground) and Iraq. These steps toward the democratizing of parts of the world that have been dominated by fundamentalist Muslim and dictatorial regimes are the glimmers of a signal of a society of younger emerging pro western minds in these countries.

While at the same time that these elections have shown a first step towards democracy in areas that have gone without such, the regimes that still rule in some of those countries are still moving towards a world of nuclear proliferation and the opposition to the rest of the worlds attempts to help moderate the regions they inhabit, be it Iran in the middle east or North Korea in east Asia.

The year was also highlighted by yet another round of stimulus spending, taking the national debt and deficit into territory that hasn’t been seen since the great depression and cold war. Anyone that wanted to get a new car could line up to cash in his or her clunker and take another bit of government money.

The only thing missing from all these efforts, which to the president’s credit have helped slow the tide of a faltering economy, has been the return of high paying jobs that continue to be shipped overseas by the corporations that this president along with the previous one, helped to bail out of their economic woes.

Lastly, the most recent contentious debate and issue being taken to task in this year (which Sen. Harry Reid now says might not happen until 2010) are the healthcare reform efforts currently under way in Congress.

With the breathtaking scale of proposed programs and efforts to insure and protect a majority of American’s health it is no small thing to say that this year has been one of the ambitious and interesting year in politics in recent years.

One hopes that the rest of the year still to come will see more “times a changin'” for the better.