What a year!
As we review the last year politically it is almost like none we have ever experienced. A nation bitterly divided, terrorists attacks, guns everywhere and the class clowns are running for student body president. The Republican Party has become so extreme that President Ronald Reagan could not have obtained the nomination in today’s climate.
2015 should be dubbed the year of the absurd.
The head of the senate committee on the environment doesn’t believe in climate change. We have to show documentation to vote in many states but not to buy AK-47s. A new racism has surfaced while we have an African American president. A man who has granted citizenship to more than one wife by marriage, has declared bankruptcy, and received federal funds for his real estate developments is leading the attack on Muslims, immigrants and federal support for the poor.
Could it have been any more crazy?
So here is my list for the ten big political stories of the year. Many of you will have your own lists so feel free to add or subtract. Here is hoping for a more sane, constructive and loving presidential election year.
1. Donald Trump
From the moment Donald Trump announced for President, he has dominated almost every single news cycle, determined the major issues being debated, and scared the hell out of not only Republicans but the nation. While most wanted to dismiss his candidacy at the outset as a joke, no one is laughing now. The possibility of him being President is a long shot but no longer impossible.
2. Black Lives Matter
Racism in America moved front and center again through deadly law enforcement actions, the Confederate Flag debate and an outbreak of racism in America’s universities. In response, a powerful new “Black Lives Matter” movement has emerged and is demanding that Americans confront racism. Cities such as Chicago, St. Louis and New York have been shut down with massive demonstrations.
3. Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality
Without question, the United States Supreme Court decision on marriage equality was a defining moment in the history of the American LGBT movement. Justice Kennedy should have been considered for TIME Person of the Year. In addition, the transgender movement came of age. Like a warning shot, the results in Houston proved once again that the community can never let its guard down.
Xenophobia reached new heights in America this year. The only question was ‘which group should we abuse this week for political gain?’ The Republican Party has become the party of “no one different” in America. One week it was immigrants and the next week it was Syrian refugees. In the midst of it, the American people are forgetting we all are the sons and daughters of immigrants. This nation is on the verge of great shame for turning our backs on people in need.
5. Gun Violence
A quarter of a million people have died in the last ten years from gun violence in America. That is five times greater than the death toll in the Vietnam War. This year we have seen almost a mass killing per day. States are passing ‘carry laws’ and any person can purchase rapid fire weapons. There are now more guns in America than people. Will anything ever be done about it? That is the $64,000 question!
6. Obama Unleashed
No longer facing another election campaign, President Obama appears to have found new life in his last two years. He has been unleashed on such issues as LGBT rights, Syrian refugees, Keystone Pipeline, refusing to be badgered into another ground war and so many other issues. Using the veto and executive orders, he continues to prove he is one of the best presidents in American history.
7. New Speaker of the House
With the departure of former Speaker of the House John Boehner, the question is will new Speaker Paul Ryan be able to return sanity to the House of Representatives? He represents a dramatic departure from the drifting, weak speakership of Boehner. We can only keep our fingers crossed that maybe the inmates at the asylum have been put back into their rooms.
8. Hillary Clinton’s October
Throughout the summer it appeared that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was on the ropes with her email problem and the insurgence of Bernie Sanders. Some thought her nomination was in jeopardy. Then came October and she had a spectacular month with the House Benghazi hearings and the debates. She is back on track.
9. Biden’s Tease
For almost three months, Vice-President Biden pondered if he should announce for president of the United States. The decision would have meant another serious challenge to Mrs. Clinton. In the end he decided against the race. If Clinton falters, he could still be on the sidelines and available to the Democratic Party.
10. Bernie Sanders’ Race
No one took Senator Sanders’ race for the presidency seriously until he raised tens of millions and rose dramatically in the polls. He has forced Mrs. Clinton into advocating more progressive positions. The Senator is the conscience of the Democratic Party and still should be viewed as a serious candidate. Hillary should be glad that Elizabeth Warren didn’t run this year.