So 2012 is almost upon us, and it has the potential to be one whopper of a year. Doesn’t it feel like the world is reaching a historical tipping point? I’m not talking about Mayan calendars or prophecies of the end of the world. I’m talking about a pivotal moment in history for our nation and our planet.
Take a look back at the news stories that dominated 2011. Put aside the celebrity antics and the telegenic missing person of the week, and the news, the real news has been dominated by political and economic upheaval at home and around the world interspersed with natural disasters. Japan had it’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The American heartland had monster tornados and massive flooding. The eastern seaboard had a hurricane. Texas had a drought, and even L.A. was raked by a particularly nasty bout of Santa Ana winds.
But, as Time magazine so aptly observed, 2011 belonged to the protesters. From Tunisia to Egypt to Libya to Greece to Spain, to Italy, to England, from Tahrir Square to the Wisconsin capitol to Zucotti Park, ordinary people took to the streets in protest of stagnating economic conditions and the inability or unwillingness of governments to do anything constructive about them.
And what about those governments? I don’t understand enough of the European dynamics to do in depth analysis there, but I know American politics, and they’ve been a bad as I’ve ever seen them. Emboldened by their election victories in 2010, the GOP has tried to hold federal and state governments hostage to narrow right wing ideologies and political calculations that any policy that was good for the American people would endear them to Obama and therefore could not be enacted. The result was partisan gridlock that left the United States lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis.
Put all together and you get a scenario of political squabbling at a time when effective government leadership is most needed. From unemployment to climate change to government budgets, partisan gridlock has stifled the simplest of solutions.
In a nutshell, that’s what 2011 looked like, and that’s what we’re dealing with as we head into one of the most pivotal election years we have ever witnessed.
And with that look back, we’ll look forward and what is at stake in 2012 tomorrow.