This has been the most fascinating and important political year of my life. As a nation we stood together at a crucial fork in the road. One way led down the crooked, deceptive, and narrow path we’d been traveling for eight years — a path contrary to the image of justice, fairness and freedom that our nation spent over 200 years developing.
But we are not under an illusion: The weeds from the path we solidly rejected as a nation in November also grew over onto the path we’re currently on, and we’re still in the process of pulling those which remain.
The voices who wished to remain on the other path still call to us from where we left them behind, but we press on, committed to this direction because we have one advantage we didn’t have under their influence: We face our problems with open eyes, taking care to clear away and repair the road as we trudge forward.
Here in the first few steps of the path we happily chose, the trek ahead seems uncertain to many of us, as our government negotiates how to undo the damage of the past eight years and how to move forward with important issues like health care.
It’s very important that the liberal majority always strives to keep political moderation in mind when making policy decisions and our conservative friends must, before all else, grasp the difference between raising important issues and counterarguments and pointlessly obstructing progress.
These obstructionists have an opportunity in the upcoming Senate confirmation hearing of Sonia Sotomayor. As long as they continue to make unfounded claims about her aggressive temperament, her racism and her judicial activism, they will remain the irrelevant minority, because most Americans recognize their arguments as echoes from the distant past, when we once fell prey to their speculative statements intended to impede us with fear.
We recognized this political tactic during the 2008 Presidential race, when Sen. John McCain’s campaign used President Obama’s association with William Ayers to build the weak case that he was “palling around with terrorists.” To this day, Vice President Dick Cheney uses Sept. 11 as a scare tactic to encourage support for his policies and Rush Limbaugh frequently accuses President Obama and Democratic legislators of socialism in order to rally the Rush-ian forces.
Our government has made unprecedented decisions this year, from the bank and automotive industry bailouts to the latest government investment in General Motors as the company files for bankruptcy. Our nation is witnessing the government reworking policies and trying solutions like the stimulus package that have never before been considered — and now there’s evidence that these new solutions are working.
This week in China, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said, “The global recession seems to be losing force. In the United States, the pace of decline in economic activity has slowed. Households are saving more, but consumer confidence has improved and spending is starting to recover.”
I began my column this year asking that readers consider the logical reasons why they affirm one political belief over another, and that they not take their preconceived notions and nurtured ideas for granted. I too have considered why I associate myself with the Democratic Party and my reasons can be found in my portfolio of articles. But while I do consider myself, at least fiscally, a liberal, my writing process has always began with the belief that the arguments of all sides should be weighed.
When I wrote about the budget crisis in California, for example, I affirmed that the solution to our deficit is not just that taxes should be raised, but that low priority programs should also take a cut. Education is not a low priority program, and I was very disappointed to read in the Mustang Daily on Tuesday that Gov. Schwarzenegger’s cuts could limit some of our colleagues from returning to California universities next Fall.
It has been a privilege to write for the Mustang Daily this year, and to be a voice on campus in this critical time of our nation’s history. We are the generation who voted in the first African-American president and we are the voters who answered Michelle Obama’s challenge to listen to our hopes instead of our fears. Each week, I made an effort to write with respect for the platform I have been given, to be relevant and to write what I saw as the truth. Next year, I hope to do the same.