Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let Me Be Clear

As hard as it is to believe, we are edging into the second year of Barack Obama's first term as President. And just as hard (for some) to believe, the world hasn't ended. But this decade is about to, and I thought I'd get a jump on some of the year end reflection.

About this time 10 years ago, my family was in England, waiting for the world to end because we were told that computers were too stupid to know the date. While it was a relief to wake up on January 1, 2000, and find that we were almost all still alive, some of us were a little disappointed because that meant living through the hangover from the 11 tequila jello-shooters from the night (and morning) before.

About 10 years ago we saw the Supreme Court elect a President who rode to power on a promise to shrink government and usher in an age of prosperity. Slightly less than half of the U.S. population thought this was going to be great, and slightly less than half thought it would be awful. Who knew they'd both be right?

We came home to America only to find that the bubble of prosperity didn't apply to us, and while we tried to find our feet, we witnessed the most horrifying thing to happen to America in my lifetime. It changed us all, causing some of us to turn to religion and some to abandon it; it caused some of us to become more engaged and some to drop out in disgust. But as violent and frightening as it was for everyone, we have managed to pull through. I can't speak for everyone, but I feel like things are finally starting to settle down a bit.

And unlike any that came before (as I have said in other places) last year's election was the first that felt to me like a real choice: a choice between two candidates that I could live with. No one is ever "perfect", but finding even one realistic candidate has never happened to me before, let alone TWO! (Then the GOP nominated Sarah Palin and narrowed the field to one again.)

Since the election of Barack Obama, I have heard a lot of scary predictions from many of my friends about the horrors that would result.

Some feared that "the blacks" would run amok with a black President in charge; they predicted riots and race wars. That didn't happen, unless you count a Supreme Court nominee taking pride in her heritage as a "riot".

Some have proclaimed that our nation is about to become some combination of Socialist, Communist, AND Nationalist under this "radical" Democrat; and they've claimed to represent half the nation in this belief. Neither of those claims are true, unless you count a few thousand angry FOX viewers as "half the nation", and use their bumper sticker daffynitions of 20th Century ideology to guide your personal political analysis.

And best of all, while there haven't been any great, flashy hero moments in the past year, we have (mostly) weathered the economic fallout from the last decade without completely disintegrating... again, as many predicted we would. And I was really worried about that, because so little of our supposed "wealth" from the last decade was built on anything substantial. Housing bubbles, cooked books, "ponzi" schemes... who knew where it would end? But it looks like it will, finally.

There is a lot of work to be done. Nothing is perfect. But from where I sit, we're getting back on track. And I look forward to quarreling, quibbling, and empathizing with all of you over the coming ten years. I hope you'll be there to enjoy it, too.

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