As a nation, it would seem the best we can say about the year 2012 is “It’s over.” I doubt few of us will recall it fondly. But the problem is it doesn’t look like 2013 is going to be much different.
I don’t recall another 12 month period during my long lifetime that whip-sawed this country so completely – top to bottom – as did 2012.
Few of us have escaped being touched by events – being shaken by some – disgusted by some – traumatized by others. It’s been an emotional year. It’s been a time when the direction of this country was fundamentally changed forever. Even our weather seemed to repeatedly conspire against us.
Perhaps the largest change – one easily documented – has been a recognition by most of us in 2012 that we’re no longer a white, Anglo-Saxon majority nation – that the racial pot simmering for the last 200 years has finally boiled over and we’ve become a multiple ethnic stew. Evidence is everywhere. From our city streets to corporations to our nation’s presidency. We’re a nation of color – of different languages – of different traditions. That should be a good thing in a nation in which all of us are – or are descended from – immigrants.
But, in 2012, for some unexplained reason, this has come as a shock to a lot of folks. Maybe that should read “frightening shock.” Bigotry that used to be whispered is now shouted from the front pages. Acts of racial bigotry in some of our nation’s legislative bodies have resulted in laws attempting to stop non-white citizens from voting – from qualifying for government assistance – from receiving health care. Some things they’re trying to legislate out of existence are freedoms going back to the end of the Civil War and the adoption of civil rights and voting right laws of the ‘60′s.
In those states and elsewhere, we’re seeing fear on a scale larger than ever before as millions of citizens clean out the shelves at gun stores and arm themselves against some sort of perceived threat from people who look “different.” Homes that have never seen a gun are being turned into arsenals. Requests for permits to carry concealed weapons are at an all-time high. And you can bet the farm thousands and thousands more people are simply keeping a gun within reach – law or no law – permit or no permit.
Mass killings are no longer rare. We’ve got ‘em regularly in shopping malls – elementary schools – movie theaters – college campuses – city streets – police stations – neighborhoods – doctor’s offices – roller rinks – high schools – play grounds – churches. There’s no sanctuary. There’s no city – no town – no place safe from armed destruction of human life. And we’re doing nothing. Not in 2012. Since 20 children were cut down in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, more than 280 Americans have been killed. By guns.
Also in 2012, while that esteemed private enterprise politicians delight in talking about was beginning to restore our national economy, those same politicians spent much of the year doing their damndest to kill it. With one manmade crisis after another – ignorant attacks on government – personal political savagery directed at a president of mixed color – roadblocks deliberately placed to stop lawful efforts by those trying to solve issues – we’ve got a Congress actually undermining our way of life.
It’s also a Congress that’s turned its back on its own constituency and the majority instructions issued by that constituency in November elections. In 2012, we’ve found “representative government” is not that at all. We’ve told ourselves for 200 years those we elect “serve at the will of the people.” In 2012, more than any other time, we’ve found that is not true. The difference is influence in the hands of a few. The difference is money and terribly gerrymandered congressional districts.
We’re continuing an undeclared war for which there is no victory – only more killing until an artificial end date on the calendar in a year or two. We’re continuing to throw treasure and young lives into a bottomless pit for no national goal – with no rational meaning. Who will we send to be the last to die? And for what?
Our basic political system was under attack by monied interests hellbent on taking control to turn our democracy – our Republic – into some sort of “national supra corporation” they can control. In 2012. Though they’ve not been entirely successful, they’ve already “bought” voices in Congress and many state legislatures. They’ve secretly funded third-party groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and Super PACs and their influence is being felt in new state laws passed to achieve their ends.
In 2012, our nation came under sustained attack from within. On these and other fronts. Not just through the evolutionary change common in society. Our values, our economics and even our freedoms were assaulted. By people we elected. At a time when economic and employment improvements were expected – had been earned – we were held back and undercut – prisoners of a national Congress frozen by egos. By ignorance. By ideology. By fear. By money.
Pretty grim stuff. And in 2013? What lies ahead? Will we suddenly realize these and other dangers? Will we take steps to end them? Will the voices of fear spouting faulty ideologies fall silent? Will the outbreak of racial divisions and hate be stilled? Faced with the same players, will we return to truly representative government “of the people, by the people, for the people?” Will our liberties and rights as citizens trump the treasonous efforts to overcome them? The efforts so blatantly revealed? In 2012?
If pessimism is truly optimism with experience, hope for significant change seems very elusive.Share on Facebook