There are things that could get me to toss confetti for 2013. Not many, mind you, which would justify the consequent vacuuming, but a goodly handful.
#1. The Senate of the United States of America does something constructive with the FILIBUSTER rule. The original rule was intended to prevent the willful trampling of minority points of view, but the abuse of the rule is now part of the clichéd “Washington Gridlock.” There is a delicate balance between Majority Rule and Minority Rights, but Obstruction for its own sake is not a laudable occupation.
#2. The Republicans in the House of Representatives eschew the Hastert Rule , under which a majority of the majority party caucus must agree to the passage of a bill before a vote can be taken on the House floor. This might have been a lovely idea if the current majority party caucus weren’t the replication of that other cliché– a wheelbarrow load of frogs. Governance requires compromise, and compromise demands the admission that we don’t always get everything we want. Ideological posturing is not a substitute for principled discourse.
#3. Someone in a position to do something about it finally figures out that arguments over raising the debt ceiling are academic at best and consummately silly at worst — rather like announcing that because I overspent my budget for this holiday season I’m going to chop up my credit cards and not pay the bills. Aside from being the most fiscally irresponsible action imaginable, it’s also a manifestation of the idea that the full faith and credit of the United States is some kind of bargaining chip in ideological squabbling.
#4. The National Rifle Association (aka No Rational Argument) stops pretending to care about the right of our citizens to keep and bear arms, and honestly announces that its ultimate intention is to promote the sale of as many firearms as its manufacturing donors can create. After that, it should be far easier to discuss comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and banning military style assault weapons.
#5. More people, perhaps even more people in the national media, stop referring to “The” government and start calling it what it is — OUR government. “The” government calls to mind the institution which cracks down on Moonshiners, or enforces school integration, or ignores calls to make Jefferson Davis’s birthday a national holiday. “The” government didn’t decide to integrate public schools — “our” government did. “The” government didn’t decide to enact regulations to prevent air and water pollution — “our” government did. And, “The” government didn’t create the Food Stamp (SNAP) program — “our” government did that. And so it goes. Continual references to “The” government is an unfortunate holdover from the Reaganesque caricature of government designed to promote the financial health of the economic elite by appealing to the discontent with those laws “our” government enacted to promote OUR general welfare.
#6. Our representatives on Capitol Hill learn to say “____ isn’t the end of the world as we know it.” I could do with a great deal less hysterical hyperbole. “This is the Largest Tax Increase In The History of the Universe!” Probably not. “This is the worst violation of human rights ever!” Probably not that either. “This will create the worst calamity known to man.” Probably not. “This will destroy our ____.” Again, probably not. Excuse me while I chuckle at the pomposity of this meaningless prognostication.
#7. Journalists who seek to inform me via the television set prove to be (1) knowledgeable about the subject under discussion, and (2) include fact checking as part of the “context” of which they speak so often. If a statement made by a politician is factually inaccurate, they will tell me; and I hope they’ll be able to offer a correction. I really don’t care if they are correcting the record in the wake of Left Wing Larry or Right Wing Richard’s pontification. The object of the exercise should be to impart accurate information so far as it can be known — I can get my “entertainment” elsewhere. Bluntly, the “he said, she said, and then he said” reactions from professional chatterati or elected representatives is less entertaining than a good professional wrestling match, which at least has the grace to admit it’s a scripted farce.
#8. Somebody finally declares the Culture Wars over and done with. Our contemporary version appears to incorporate a toxic dose of good old fashioned misogyny. Women make up about 51% of our population and telling them they cannot have an abortion (even in the cases of an ectopic pregnancy or as the result of a rape) is paternalistic to the core. Worse still would be telling them that their employer can decide if their health insurance plan covers contraceptive medication.
#9. On a related note, it really doesn’t do to blame God for everything. I’d cheer the week that some blowhards weren’t showcased in the media for pronouncing God’s Wrath for … whatever. Hurricane Katrina — God’s wrath for a Gay Pride gathering? Really? God’s wrath because we don’t pray hard enough? That certainly doesn’t explain the attack on congregants in the Knoxville Unitarian church. God’s Wrath because we don’t have organized prayer in schools? Huh? No one at Columbine High School, Platte County High School, Northern Illinois University, Virginia Tech University, or Sandy Hook Elementary knew how to pray and practiced it regularly? Spare me the Westboro Wannabes who “know” the mind of God better than a six year old child.
#10. The confetti will fly when we begin to have a serious discussion about global climate change without having to incorporate the phony “science” offered up by the fossil fuel industry. No, there isn’t a “controversy” here. And, no reputable science deflects our responsibility as human beings for the contamination of which we are clearly capable.
Speaking of the Almighty, there’s an old story about the man caught in a flood which seems appropriate at the moment. “Why, he cried out to God, am a trapped in these flood waters?” The Almighty, sorely tired of listening to the wailing, said, “I sent you warnings.” “When?” “When?” responded the Deity. “When indeed.” “I sent you warnings on the radio. You ignored me. I sent you warnings in television broadcasts, and you ignored me. I even sent a deputy sheriff to personally advise you to evacuate. And, you ignored him too.” ….
We’ve been visited with major named storms, watched ice caps diminish, seen glaciers disappear… and all together too many people are ignoring the warnings.