Economic Crisis and Fiscal Incompetence
While it is obvious that the decline in the economy and the rise of unemployment above 10% make one of the most important stories of the year, the government response to this crisis is really an even bigger story. The decision to address the crisis with uncontrolled and poorly directed spending, causing further economic decline and an exploding debt which may be impossible to resolve without defaulting on debt obligations, will have consequences which last for decades. Gross fiscal irresponsibility including bailouts for favored industries, handouts to political allies and the largest budget increase in history while continuing to escalate the war in Afghanistan showed such economic ignorance, greed and irresponsibility that it actually woke the sleeping voters and may lead to one of the greatest political upheavals of our times in 2010. More coverage.
The Rise of the Liberty Movement
The economic crisis spurred the emergence of a powerful non-partisan movement for smaller government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. The people rose up in the millions and shouted "stop" at a government they view as out of control. This was manifested in the Tea Party protests and a rise in activism from independent voters as well as a pronounced political shift to the right on economic issues in the Republican Party. As the people expressed their displeasure in the streets and in the polls and in raising spokesmen like Glenn Beck to national prominence, Republican legislators actually heard the message and stood firm in opposition to every major spending measure in the Congress in a remarkable show of political resolve. More coverage.
When Russian hackers released a decade worth of emails between top climate scientists it stopped the efforts of global socialists to implement draconian environmental regulation dead in its tracks. The evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate, misrepresent and conceal scientific data was impossible to write off and it eviscerated the Copenhagen Climate Conference and left Al Gore hanging in the wind. More coverage.
The Health Care Debacle
The health care debate exposed the dark and rotten underbelly of partisan politics to the public in a way which hadn't been seen since the days of Richard Nixon. An awakened electorate got to watch Democrat leaders engaging in every kind of bullying and bribery to pass legislation to which their constituents were overwhelmingly opposed both on the right and left. The issue served as a vehicle for exposing partisan corruption of the media and the disdain of legislators for any interests but those of the political class. As voters watched in horror their eyes were opened to the blatant corporate takeover of the establishment left and the gross corruption of the political process. More coverage.
Liberty Defiant in Honduras
With international interests including the United States arrayed against them, the people of Honduras defied the world by demanding that the rule of law and the legitimacy of their constitution be recognized in opposition to the attempt of Marxists to subvert their political system. Despite all the forces arrayed against them, the people of Honduras prevailed and remained free. More coverage.
John Mackey Speaks Out
Everyone is picking Sully Sullenberger as their hero of the year, but his remarkable competence was not expressly political in nature. The real political hero of the year was John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods who defied his own left-leaning customers and risked one of the most successful emerging businesses of the decade by defending his vision of 21st century capitalism and publicly suggesting some rational alternatives to Obamacare based on his successful experiments in his own business. More coverage.
Unrest in Iran
After a suspect election led to protests, government crackdowns led to further protests and further crackdowns to the point where Iran has developed a serious anti-government movement with the potential for a revolutionary uprising. The heavy handed violence of government forces in attacking protesters and assassinating outspoken opponents has shredded the mask of democracy which had cloaked the harsh rule of the Mullah oligarchy. The combination of middle class discontent, angry and persecuted ethnic minorities and a young population fed up with cultural isolation may be too volatile for the theocratic regime to keep under control. More coverage.
A madman with flaming underpants reminded us at the end of the year that the problems with international terrorism and defending the homeland were far from resolved. The convoluted process by which ample warnings of his intentions were ignored and mishandled showed both problems in our current security apparatus, but also the failures of the administration as they responded with pathetic denials and ridiculous suggestions for impractical responses. It also gave us new heroes in the passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 who took action where the government had failed and saved their own lives on Christmas in the air over Detroit. Read more.
The Scozzafava Disaster
The tumult surrounding the candidacy of Dede Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District in New York exposed the weaknesses of both the Republican establishment and the rising far-right opposition. The selection of Scozzafava by the political leadership of the state showed a disregard for the preferences of Republican voters which led to a backlash in support of what turned out to be a very unappealing alternative in the form of inarticulate boob Douglass Hoffman. The far right tried to flex its muscles and managed to force Scozzafava out of the race, but Hoffman was just too weak a candidate and they ended up giving the seat to the Democrats. There is an important lesson about compromise and listening to the people to be learned here, but it remains to be seen whether any of the factions in the GOP will heed it. Read more.
The Return of Sarah Palin
For good or ill, 2009 showed us that Sarah Palin was not just a flash in the pan and was not going to go away. Despite continued derisionm from the media and the left and despite the refusal of blue state bookstores to even stock her campaign memoir, she made the top of the bestseller list and was very well received in her nationwide tour. She continued to demonstrate that whatever her shortcomings, she is unflappable and continues to have a strong national appeal. Read more.
If I were greedy I'd want to pick an 11th and 12th story deserving of recognition for 2009. #11 would be the purge of grassroots activists in the Republican Party of Florida and the backlash which looks likely to unseat State Chair Jim Greer. This struggle is a microcosm of the fight between the GOP grassroots and establishment which is going on nationwide. #12 would be the very conservative Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling granting gay marriage rights in that very red state on firm constitutional grounds, a strong reminder that the defense of individual rights is a conservative position.