Small Victories Lead to Big Expectations for 2013
As 2012 comes to an end I would like to take time to enumerate a few accomplishments of the American people towards creating a more perfect nation that you may have missed. These positives provide us with hope but not with wishful idealism. These positives illustrate to the American people that we are capable of making changes through strong, individual voices and direct action by the masses.
In a small step towards government reform, Former Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich gets sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption charges.
After JP Morgan reveals a 2 billion dollar training loss on May 10th, 2012, U.S. regulators begin investigating trades and the corporate decision making process while affirming the Volcker Rule, which puts limits on a bank’s ability to invest on themselves.
Thanks to the actions and voices of groups like 360.org and Bill McKibben, on January 18th, President Obama denied Trans-Canada pipelines ltd. a permit for Keystone XL Pipeline, potentially avoiding harmful carbon emissions and oil spills.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new Fracking Regulation Standards. These new rules apply to the release of toxic or carcinogenic gases, requiring energy companies to install new equipment that will capture toxic gas, thus reducing the amount of gas released into the environment. This will help protect not only our environment but the health of those exposed to the toxic food, water, and air affected by the fracking process.
In Maryland and Maine, same-sex marriage was passed by popular vote, setting the ethical bar for equal rights for all Americans. Earlier in the year, the California same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was declared unconstitutional on October 18, granting hope in a major step validating marital rights. In a bittersweet, historical moment, President Obama voiced his support of same-sex marriage. Sweet because President Obama is the first sitting president to declare his stance in favor of marriage equality, yet bitter because it took 44 presidents to get there.
The tragic shooting of 17 year-old Treyvon Martin by George Zimmerman prompted a civil rights investigation of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which could potentially protect Zimmerman from prosecution. However, after national protests and media attention, Zimmerman was arrested on charges of second degree murder and currently awaits trial.
Although he has not offered a long term solution to the much debated issue of immigration, Obama passed a new immigration policy giving young immigrants a chance to remain in the U.S. even amongst racial prejudice and discrimination.
2012 showed a continuation in the rise of uninsured Americans. In Texas alone, 23.8% of population is without health insurance. In an attempt to curtail these rising percentages, Obamacare is upheld by the Supreme Court.
While not a huge step towards the end of the war, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in February that United States troops in Afghanistan will start coming home, leading to the end of the U.S. combat mission as early as mid 2013.
I have chosen to focus on the positive accomplishments brought to us in 2012 in hopes that they will inspire us to continue to strive for a more perfect nation. This is not to say that 2012 was without its setbacks. We still witnessed the plummet of the median household income for Americans and rise in unemployment in the shadow of the ever expanding power of corporate America, shocking gun violence, and no clear path towards economic reform. These are the challenges set before the American people which can only be solved by direct action by the people for the people.