Gun violence in America seemed to play out almost daily on the evening news as yet another tragic story of a shooting was revealed.
Newtown crushed us with a story so sad that it is difficult to really allow the depth of the tragedy to enter our conscious minds. This year, nearly twelve thousand Americans were fatally shot and two hundred of the victims were children. These numbers do not include suicide or gun deaths due to an accident such as an accidental discharge of a firearm. I am not suggesting that guns be removed from our culture but rather a rational conversation about the issue of gun violence must be undertaken and a common agreement struck about how we might better manage this frightening issue.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was voted down by the U.S. Supreme Court. States are now free to decide how voting will occur in their respective states. Keep in mind that in 2001, Mississippi tried to cancel certain County elections because too many black people were registered to vote. In 2004, an Alabama town tried to disallow Asian American voters because they did not speak English well enough. I guess time will tell what these changes may mean and hopefully there will not be a regression back to the dark days of the 1950’s and 60’s.
Edward Snowden claimed that America, more specially, the NSA was spying on just about everyone including American citizens. It has stirred a debate about privacy versus national security. While one Federal Judge did proclaim that spying is unconstitutional, no restrictions or changes have been made in the way that the NSA operates. On the surface, this appears to be an area where oversight and preset limits must be in place.
This year congress voted to remove about 80 percent of the annual funding allotted in the Farm Bill which provides for the food stamp program in America. It could be argued that this was simply an act of fiscal stewardship, maybe, but it seems to me that there would be many bigger opportunities to trim political pork than the food stamp program.
This year President Obama revealed that the use of military drones had been expanded exponentially. He came before the American people numerous times to tout the killing of our enemies around the globe. While the drone is an important tactical weapon many innocent people have also died as a result of their use. It seems unlikely that the U.S. can win the “hearts and minds” of the enemy as long as these weapons are being used. In fact, some congressmen feel that their use may prolong the war because of the dehumanizing effect of the weapon. Knowing only what I know now it seems to me that it is time to bring our young men and women home.
The 113the congress is said to be the least productive congress in American history. This year only 55 laws were passed by congress, fewer than any other congress in history. Toxic gridlock and frustration are the hallmarks of the 113th congress. There is no highway bill, no defense bill and until just recently no national budget.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been an abysmal nightmare for most Americans. The President’s words, “If you like your plan you can keep it” have been turned into the slogan that best represents the failure of the plan as many Americans have lost their current plan. A whole scale failure of the online sign-up system has further diminished the confidence of the American people in a plan that should have provided relief to millions of uninsured Americans.
Now add that Americans wages continue to stagnate, unemployment is unacceptably high and more Americans are falling into poverty along with a disappearing middle class and you have quite an unmemorable year. Perhaps the best thing about this year is that it is nearly over. In spite of all these difficulties Americans will look forward to a better year next year and they will embrace that indefatigable optimism that lives in most Americans. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hopefully a much better one than 2013.
Remember, all kids count.
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