It’s been quite a year. We’ve had a lot to write about in this space. The R’s both in our State Legislature and in Washington have provided us with a veritable mountain of material. In some cases…most, actually…unfortunately.
We even had a bit of history here in California this year. Our State Legislature passed a budget. On time. For the first time, some might think, in living memory. Of course, the budget was based on some rather faulty figuring and we’re already running a deficit. Oh, well, maybe next year.
Budget issues have also occupied us in Washington. We have lost count of the number of times the R’s have come within a trice of shutting down the government. And we have on more than one occasion come to the conclusion that the reason the R’s hate government so much is that they are so bad at it. One thing they haven’t managed to do, however, though it is what they campaigned on in 2010 and came into office pledging to do…jobs. They haven’t proposed a single piece of jobs creating legislation and they have voted down every piece of such legislation proposed by anybody else. And one trend did continue throughout this year from 2009 and 2010. If something had the name “Obama” on it, the R’s were against it.
It was also the year the R’s voted to effectively end one of the pillars of American society…Medicare…and propose major changes…read cuts…to another…Social Security. This has led us to wonder, more than once, if the R’s can count. Lots of people benefit from these programs. And most of the people who benefit from them also do one other thing…they vote.
Yes, 2011 gave us many dispiriting things to write about. The effective end of the U.S. space program. Floods and tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast. An earthquake and hurricane in the East. Union busting in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Plenty to make us question our country and where we’re going.
And yet one of the most dispiriting events of 2011 also provided us one of our most inspiring stories, as well. Last January a madman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and wounded nineteen others, killing six, including a nine-year old child. It showed us once again what kind of society we’ve become…intolerant, uncivil and mean-spirited.
And yet Gabby Giffords herself has provided us with some of our most inspiring moments. Not only was her survival of the shooting a miracle in itself, her recovery from her wounds has provided us with an ongoing series of miracles. That she can walk and talk after what she’s been through was beyond hope even a few short months ago. Less than four months after the shooting, she was able to attend the launch of one of the final space shuttles, her husband at the controls. In August, she was able to return, briefly, to Congress to vote on the debt ceiling increase. Her grit and her determination to return to work have truly provided 2011 with one of its few shining stars.
We’re sure our Republican friends will provide us with plenty of jolly material as we enter 2012. We wonder, though, who, if anyone, will provide us with our inspiration.