Time flies so fast that I’m a week late getting to this. I want to thank all of the readers who make maintaining this site worthwhile, particularly those who take the time to offer their often-insightful comments.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to recap what I consider a modest return of reason on the political landscape over the past year.
1. Obviously we have to start with the 2006 U.S. elections, in which the Democrats finally turned the tide against the far right extremism that had gripped the country since 9/11. While the Democrats too can fall prey to specious reasoning, corruption, and bad policy, it was still a shining moment for those of us who have watched with alarm as America adopted extremist positions both abroad and domestically. While I can’t forgive the electorate for giving Bush a second term, the results last November go a long way towards getting us back on track; finally, there is a modicum of accountability in government again.
2. This brings me to the 2008 election, where the Democrats have arrayed an impressive cadre of candidates (aside from Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich). Not only would the second-tier candidates–Richardson, Biden and Dodd–be serious contenders for the top spot in almost any other election, the field is also the most diverse that I can remember. All are serious candidates intent on improving the public interest; despite their differences, they’re all dedicated to reasoned analysis and policy. I don’t agree with a lot of what they say, but a President Obama, Clinton, or Edwards would be a significant victory for reality and reason-based politics.
3. Two other trends are likewise worth noting, one of them abroad.
First, young voters in America are increasingly identifying themselves as Democrats. This is significant because party identification is historically not very malleable; those who begin as Democrats are likely to stay Democrats. Although no doubt the Iraq War is central to this shift, I think the GOP’s identification with the Religious Right is also partly to blame. This bodes well for the future since the Democrats are rightly associated with a more secular-based politics.
The second trend is the liberalization of abortion law in Latin America (aside from Nicaragua, where the communist Daniel Ortega worked with the Catholic Church to completely criminalize abortion and lock women in jails). In Mexico City abortion is now legal in the first trimester and Brazil is seriously considering major changes as well. While abortion itself is nothing to be celebrated, the opportunity for women to control their reproductive decisions, instead of the State or the Church, is. It is a victory for reason over patriarchy and coercion.
As always, it is worth reminding ourselves that reason, like freedom, must always be defended each and every generation. Fortunately, it looks like the tide both in America and elsewhere may be slowly turning in reason’s favor.
P.S. For most of the summer the News & Commentary will take you directly to the site, Headline Junky, where my good friend Judah will keep you posted on all the latest news.