As 2011 fades, the year that was stirs mixed emotions. I was fortunate to work at a job I love and have the opportunity to enjoy my friends and family. The end of the Iraq war, the official end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the victory for marriage equality in New York were exciting.
On the down side: There remain too many people still out of work and suffering; the contentious debates and continued lack of civility in public policy discussions persist; the hurtful actions of the Congress and the president with regard to poor women and “choice” in the District is disappointing; the war in Afghanistan rages on; and the general meanness emanating from the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination is painful to watch.
So I lift my glass to 2012 though I know it won’t be an easy year. Hope springs eternal that before it is over we will have elected leaders who will return our government to civility in discourse and set us on a path to rationality. I’m hopeful that the influence of the Glen Becks of the world begins to fade and the nonsense that he spews begins to fall on deaf ears. And I hope that the far right pundits exit stage right and the strident voices on the other side exit stage left.
The Republican Party debates have been humorous in many ways, especially for Democrats, but they have also been frightening. The candidates appear to be striving to appeal to the very worst in our nature. Some recently even called into question our independent judicial system, one of the hallmarks of our democracy. Newt Gingrich went so far as to say he would use federal marshals to haul judges into Congress to explain themselves. Collectively they want to drive the LGBT community back into the closet or worse.
In 2012 I look forward to seeing President Obama elected to a second term. However, we will first have to endure a long battle that will be both expensive and divisive. Each side will accuse the other of class warfare highlighting the divide between the haves and have-nots. My support of the president is not purely based on what he has accomplished, and he has accomplished much, but on what I hope he will stand up for in his second term.
After the shackles of campaigning are lifted from the president’s back, I hope he is free to speak out in his second term on what many people thought he believed when they first voted for him. I look forward to hearing his clarion call for the right of all women to “choice” and to contraception; to having the federal government move forward with regulations that will protect our environment and people’s health; to guaranteeing the right of all members of the LGBT community to live in dignity with the full panoply of civil and human rights afforded to all Americans.
2012 will be a year of destiny for our nation and for the world. We can either move further into the abyss of economic turbulence and political disintegration or we can come together here at home and with our global partners and move toward higher ground. We must agree that we all need to make sacrifices today if we are to ensure a better world for future generations.
As individuals we must move beyond just being satisfied with our own comfort and successes and while being thankful we must refocus ourselves and our government to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to live their lives to their full potential.