Another year has come and gone and the country’s situation remains largely unchanged. Despite the news around the world of bailouts and bankruptcies, crises in the Middle East and a general malaise settling in with the economy, business as usual continues in the United States.
There was good reason to think we would have woken up by now. Europe, the home of social democracy, is bankrupt. Countries with socialized medicine, strong union support and overburdened pension systems are tapped out even with their relatively higher tax rates.
Their only solution was austerity, a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts designed to bring their budgets in line. It is even arguable that although Ronald Reagan remains a conservative icon, the true champion of capitalism and limited government the past few years was a horde of accountants and computers. These simple machines and people have done more to destroy the welfare state than any one political figure.
Meanwhile, when it came to austerity, America slept.
On foreign policy, the United States sent mixed signals. The first half of the year was marked with revolution in the Middle East and the successful hit on Osama Bin Laden. In Libya, the U.S. hesitated, costing time and lives. In Egypt, the administration was quick to take the side of the revolution. Unfortunately, the administration chose to believe foolishly that those on Twitter held sway over the army.
We ended up with a revolution that could put a friend of Iran, and an enemy to Israel and the United States, in charge. Currently, the military runs the show, but preliminary election results are in. Like the United States, any hastily organized election will help with the zealots, and the electoral winner seems to be the Muslim Brotherhood, far-right zealots.
And the U.S. remained hands off, while Iran and Syria stayed hands on.
That is the extent of our year. The troops may be coming home, but the world has only gotten messier. Europe may be forced to make society-changing decisions while the United States continues to pile on debt.
With a year like 2011, 2012 cannot come soon enough. The new year will bring untold challenges. As the world looks for things to cut, crises will require military attention. Syria is facing the possibility of revolution. Many have already died, many more will still perish. It is in the interest of the United States and the rest of the world that the regime fails. Whether President Barack Obama will commit the resources to get the revolution across the finish line is up for debate.
At home, the Supreme Court will finally take on Obamacare. Finally, the country will know if the law is or is not constitutional in the eyes of the only nine people that really matter. Early 2012 may also be a strong indicator of the direction of the world economy and, of course, the presidential election
History tends to repeat itself and we have not had the best of years. We would probably have to look back before the millennium to think of a really good year for world history.
With that in mind, we should ask ourselves one question: “Are we better off than we were a year ago?” That simple question, with a longer time horizon, changed the course of this country.
The primaries are approaching and it is time for voters from both parties to ask themselves that question because the greatest thing about a democracy is hope. Not hope derived from a slogan or campaign promise, but hope derived from the voters — the citizens. That hope is from a simple fact: We can change our leaders when they fail us.
Let Americans from both parties use that hope and once again rise to the occasion and exercise the right granted by God and ensured by our forefathers. The right to change our leaders.