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Top 10 Political Events of 2009

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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.

The UndieBomber

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.

Also Noteworthy

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.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • It’s been a tumultuous year in politics.
    That is for sure! Wonder what 2010 has in store, lol.

    Happy New Year, Dave!

  • 2010 promises more of the same, I suspect.

    Happy New Year to you and to all as well.


  • Happy New Year to both of you, Dave and Christine. May your wishes for better future and happier humanity all come true – however different your conceptions might be.

  • Happy 2010 to Dave and his reader. ;-p

    Pretty much on the money as far as identifying the most significant (from an American POV anyway) political happenings of the year, although I’m sure I won’t be the only one to take issue with some of your accompanying commentary!

  • If you brits would get off your asses and vote that globalist tool Gordon Brown out of office I’d put you on the list too.


  • There you go again, Dave. You just can’t help but think that the world and its future is inextricably bound with the fortunes of America. It is a passing illusion, and trust me, the sooner it will be discovered for what it is, a mere illusion, the better.

    We had had our place in the sun and obviously we failed miserably. We’re on our ass now. So don’t try to recover the lost past, It ain’t gonna happen.

    Happy New Year.

  • Dave, I’ve never voted for either Gordon Brown or any candidate from his party, so don’t come crying to me!

  • Dave, you left out the death of Ted Kennedy which I think should be in the Top 5 of political events of 2009. Insofar as Political Hero of the Year your Whole Foods choice is nice from an ideological point of view but really has no impact on the National debate. Personally, I would award that distinction to the Health Care Lobbyist. The Health Care Lobbyist has proven, without a doubt, that money in Washington talks while actual health care reform walks. The Health Care Lobbyist has succeeded in remaining as invisible to the public as Osama bin Laden has been invisible to US Intelligence.

    Another story with far reaching political impact which seems to have avoided the MSM microscope is this situation in Uganda regarding homosexuals and capital punishment. Any successes made by the US Far Right financed Ugandan Christian politicians have impact which spread across the entire African continent. Anyone with a reasonable head on their shoulders recognizes that the African Continent is virgin territory ready to explode in a new age economy. The Far Right wants to maintain their control over Africa for their own financial and ideological purposes. Bottom line? The White Christian Far Right has found a new method of enslaving Africans and are doing so with the King James Bible as their guide. It’s frightening. It’s disturbing. It is the darkest side of Christian “morality”.

  • zingzing

    this is definitely top-10 from the american right wing… even from that perspective, #1 should be “obama takes office, right wing eats own testicles for power.”

  • How could Palin return if she never went away?

    Obama winning Nobel was turned into a big political story.

  • GREAT point from zing. The ascension of Barack Obama to the Oval Office is the #1 political story of the year and the decade. I am so sorry that I neglected to recognize the significance of Obama’s rise. I hope that doesn’t brand me as a right winger. I’m a government conservative but a complete bleeding heart social liberal.

    El Bicho also makes a great point about Governor Palin. She never did really go away. In a sense, she learned quite a bit from her own mainstream media experience. She took the McCain Veep slot and sucked all the capital and advantage from it she could. Perhaps she is the quintessential example of a die hard capitalist. Inasmuch as she’s about as foreign to the womens movement as Larry Craig, women should study the phenomenon which is Sarah Palin.

  • Baronius

    Sotomayor, Steele, and the Revival of the Politics of Race?
    McCrystal and the Destabilization of Afghanistan?
    Daschle, Geithner, and Richardson?
    Burris and Blagojevich????

  • Obama taking office was not the story, Obama getting ELECTED was the story, and that was in 2008 and therefore not qualified for this top 10 list.

    If this were really a right-wing rant, as Zing suggests then I would have put the ridiculous Nobel prize on the list. And as for Ted Kennedy’s death, dying isn’t really an accomplishment. What good things Kennedy did were in the past, not in 2009.

    And the choice of Mackey is enormously important, because he symbolizes the new America which transcends the traditional ideology of right and left and embraces entrepreneurial capitalism without the corporate mindset. He’s symbolic of where this nation ought to be going and it’s very telling that his hippie capitalism is so at odds with the state-corporatist establishment.

    Blagojevich? You’ve got to be kidding, Baronius.

    As for the rest, write your own list.


  • Baronius

    The President’s old Senate seat was up for sale. The governor of a large state was driven from office. Among conservatives, this set the tone for the “corrupt Chicago pol” narrative. Among liberals, the increased scrutiny sunk Caroline Kennedy’s bid for a Senate seat. And (although I may be overly optimistic about this) the whole affair brought some negative attention to the 17th Amendment.

  • But it’s all too tawdry and trivial. Just the same old corruption from the same old people. It would be more of a story if Blago had not been crooked.


  • Arch Conservative

    The death of Ted Kennedy?

    This may come as a shock to you Silas but MA isn’t the center of the Universe. Hell, even we just north of you in NH do not share your zeal for Kennedy. Not only that but if I were making a list of the year’s top ten political events I’d include only things which had a real effect on the lives of the American people and Kennedy’s passing in no way rises to that level.

    I would never have included Nalle’s 5, 6 and 10 in my own list.

    My number one would have been despite the fact that we have a new president who promised change…nothing has changed.

    This is not a remarkable event in that it happens every year. Big governement, the international bankers and corporatists get together and find new ways to fuck us all.

    Or how about Obama violating section 9 of the Constitution by chairing the UN Security Council?

    How about Obama continuing to waste billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghinistan?
    That certainly affects more Americans than the Scozzafavre sideshow. Can someone please tell me what the hell we stand to gain in either of these endeavors. I don’t think anyone is buying the tired old neocon argument that we will be overrun by islamic terrorists the day we leave Iraq.

    How about Obama violating the Constitution the same way Bush did by using signing statements?

    How about Obama and his merry band of New World Order thugs doing everything they can to devalue the dollar and bring America to it’s knees through bogus climate treaties?

    How about Congress actually having a moment of silence for the passing of a pop icon pedophile. Are you fucking kidding me?

    There a lot of things that should be on the top ten list that aren’t because people are too busy watching Dancing with the Stars.

  • zingzing

    archie: “How about Obama and his merry band of New World Order thugs doing everything they can to devalue the dollar and bring America to it’s knees through bogus climate treaties?”

    yep. those in power of countries really want to destroy the source of said power. and the nwo really exists. and other incredibly stupid things. nuts.

  • Arch Conservative

    Yeah I’m nuts.

    I mean it’s not as if the EU has greatly weakened its member states’ sovereignty in favor of a trans national governing body huh?

    Keep your head in the sand where it belongs zing.

  • But that the implicit idea behind the EU and all such, Archie. For the EU to grow, the sovereign states must weaken as a result.

  • Arch Conservative

    And you don’t see the harm in that?

  • Honestly speaking, Archie, I don’t, because I truly believe that the notion of nation-states has outlived its usefulness. Consequently, I have to anchor my hopes in some other geopolitical configuration.

    What’s wrong with “The United Federation of Planets,” Arch? I always thought it was a great idea. We should only live long enough to see it.

  • zingzing

    so… america is now part of the eu? or are you talking about something else? i’m not getting the connection.

    you should explain WHY someone with power would want to weaken their own power. that’s the thing that bothers me the most about such talk. the idea that someone would want to do this is implausible, yet you act as if it’s obvious. the fact is that it’s obviously not the case, yet you keep screaming that it is.

    it’s very strange.

    if my head is in the sand, yours is in the clouds. maybe i miss a few things, but you just make shit up.

    “And you don’t see the harm in that?”

    and you don’t any benefits?

  • That’s right, zing. Unfortunately, it’s a trade-off. So we do lose a sense of common nationality and whatever else comes with it. But yes, I’m thinking of the gains.

  • This may come as a shock to you Silas but MA isn’t the center of the Universe. Hell, even we just north of you in NH do not share your zeal for Kennedy.

    Arch, are you so consumed with hatred for Kennedy that you can’t see the forest for the trees? I honestly believe that had Ted Kennedy lived through this health care debate things would have been dramatically different. Take off the blinders, Arch. My naming Kennedy had nothing to do with my so-called “zeal”. Regardless of his ideaolgy, Ted Kennedy had an incredible knack for trying to forge compromise between the aisles. If you remove yourself from the hate for a second and even listen consider the opinions of your Conservative American Idols you may actually agree that Kennedy’s death has a major impact on the way business is executed in the Senate.

    This is not a remarkable event in that it happens every year. Big governement, the international bankers and corporatists get together and find new ways to fuck us all.

    On this point I heartily agree, Arch.

    And now, Arch, let’s get to brass tacks. This may come as a shock to YOU, Arch — you and I probably agree on more than you’re human enough to admit. I am very concerned about the direction this country is taking — and not on ideological grounds. If we take that upon which we agree and capitalize on making progress perhaps we can forge compromises on those issues which we differ. That’s the American thing to do.

    This is going to be a pivotal year for our country, Arch. Lord only knows if any of us will be here next New Year’s Day. In my case it’s highly unlikely so with whatever time I’ve got left I’ve decided that I’m shying away from that which incites and I’m going to try and promote reconciliation. There are right wing politics and then there is the Christian agenda. I’ll fight to my dying breath to assure that right wing points of view are given a fair hearing but when those politics are driven by Christian money changers I will fight just as ferociously to insure their demise. There is a political war of Apocalyptic proportions brewing in the United States — 2010 is the year. This soldier is on board and has every intention of being part of the military command as opposed to a mindless Christian foot soldier.

  • Baronius

    Eh, you guys are too cynical and/or too much time has passed. A governor was taped conducting a bidding war for a Senate seat. That was huge.

  • Sure, Baronius, it was quite a scandal. But was it, in the greater scheme of things, crucial? Did the political wind change as a result of the Blago affair? Not really.

    That’s the point of Dave’s list, whether you agree with his political take or not.

  • zedd


    The world is a big place. What happens in the world affects us.

    Beyond that….

    Ummmmm what happened to the first person of African lineage becoming Prez in these United States?????

    What about those kooks – the Teabaggers

    What about the increase in focus on Afghanistan….

    What about “You Lie”

    Good try and off course there would always be disagreement.

  • It wasn’t huge, Baronius, it was business as usual.


  • Ummmmm what happened to the first person of African lineage becoming Prez in these United States?????

    That was in 2008.

    What about those kooks – the Teabaggers

    Did you not read the list, then?

    What about the increase in focus on Afghanistan….

    Remarkably stupid, but not really a big surprise. If he’d pulled out then it would have made the list.

    What about “You Lie”

    Extraordinarily trivial, if amusing. I’ll put it on the same list with Blago.


  • Cannonshop

    #25 It’s Illinois, and Blago’s from Chicago-that’s “Dog bites man” material, it’s expected.

  • Arch Conservative

    “What about those kooks – the Teabaggers”

    You’re the only kook around here Zedd.

    Just because you’ve sold your soul to big brother doesn’t mean the rest of us are going to.

  • zingzing

    archie: “You’re the only kook around here Zedd.”


    besides, selling your soul to big brother is only about as bad as getting raped by fox news and smiling for the camera as it’s happening.

  • Arch Conservative

    Why don’t you try telling that to someone that watches Fox News zing.

    I don’t.

    If you or zedd actually cared to know the truth about the tea party movement you could easily do some research and discover that those in it are quite hostile toward the GOP and Fox news.

    Only weak minded shills for the status quo or an even bigger federal government make the argument that the tea parties are an extension of Fox News.

  • zingzing

    “Why don’t you try telling that to someone that watches Fox News zing.”

    because that would be missing the point entirely.

    “If you or zedd actually cared to know the truth about the tea party movement you could easily do some research and discover that those in it are quite hostile toward the GOP and Fox news.”

    i’m sure some are. then again, they’re just hostile towards everything.

    “Only weak minded shills for the status quo or an even bigger federal government make the argument that the tea parties are an extension of Fox News.”

    i’m not too sure about that…

  • Archie,

    I can understand why you want to see the teabaggers as representing “The Last White Hope.” It’s quite natural. But you’ve got to admit that, regardless of the mainstream media’s spin on those events, the participants didn’t exactly come across as the sharpers or the brightest. Most of them couldn’t even articulate a thought or idea – just like the crowd which filled the townhall meetings on healthcare.

    And whether Fox News did or did not “manufacture” these events is immaterial. It surely claimed responsibility for the action. And that didn’t help.

  • Roger, what you’re repeating is the MSM’s misrepresentation of the Tea Party movement. In fact, the real activists include some very smart people and they don’t work for Fox News or the various professional advocacy organizations which have become involved. It’s an authentic awakening of the people and it’s going to be bigger and stronger in the coming year.


  • Well, let’s say the truth lies somewhere in between. But we’ve all seen the townhall videos, haven’t we?

  • The townhall videos are interesting examples of public outrage, most of it from people who for one reason or another don’t have jobs to go to. But they’re just the tip of the larger iceberg.


  • Are we experiencing a voice of reaction? Of course. For all the ambitious programs on the agenda, they forgot the most important one:

    It’s the economy, stupid!

  • Zedd

    What about “You Lie”

    Extraordinarily trivial, if amusing. I’ll put it on the same list with Blago.

    Did you not understand the significance of that act? Interesting Dave.

    Also, Afghanistan was VERY relevant because we finally focused on the nation which contributed to 911.

  • Zedd


    Bless your heart. Shall I guess that you are a Birther too?

  • Hayley