Monday, January 3, 2011

So long, 2010 -- Obama's bad/good year

In considering to publish a year-end post last week, it turned out I never really had the time to do one anyway. Between traveling to several different locations during the holidays, the idea of a year-in-review post would be tiresome, forced on my part, and something that many publications -- many times more legitimate than this one -- had already done.

Still, it's worth pointing out that 2010 was a year of limited success for Obama and Democrats, one with sizable gains but at the expense of the administration's hard-earned popularity. Health care and Wall Street reform topped the administration's many accomplishments (though they certainly could have gone further), and late-December compromises with Republicans allowed the president to get many important packages passed, including extending tax cuts for the middle class, getting benefits to 9/11 responders, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and extending unemployment insurance for those in dire need.

So why does the year 2010 seem like a disappointment to so many? Simply put, even with all of these accomplishments, the fact that Republican obstructionism stopped or paused nearly all of these issues -- plus additional packages that failed to pass, such as the DREAM Act -- meant that an enormous amount of political capital was spent trying to get anything meaningful passed into law. So much patience was asked of so many that Obama and Democrats lost touch at times with many of their core supporters, creating an "enthusiasm gap" that enabled conservatives to win out at the polls in November. The president remains popular, and in 2012 things should look a little brighter. But this past year was not Obama's year, even though he wound up fulfilling many of his campaign promises.

2010 was a mixed bag, a series of accomplishments and setbacks repeated over and over again that made the American people overall lose faith in the governing process (what little of it they had gained, that is, from 2008). This resulted in the election results we wound up witnessing. Jobs and the economy dominated the people's minds, and while the Obama administration HAS been hard at work trying to remedy things, it'll be interesting to see how this new Congress and the president can work together -- if they can at all -- to help the people in the end.

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