2008 is a year that will be remembered, not for what we did or said, but how we felt. It was a year of introspection, of new beginnings and new frontiers. America voted for an African-American president, showing that our country will always remain a bastion for freedom and opportunity.
Politics reached some bitter lows, with identity emerging a common strain as the campaigns wore on. In the midst of this bitter partisanship, America was introduced to a new kind of politician: Sarah Palin. This woman who started at the most basic levels of hometown politics worked her way up to becoming the vice-presidential candidate for a major party. She brilliantly represented many facets of America that haven’t always had a voice in politics, especially the hardworking, independent mothers who have contributed so much to the fabric of this country. Hopefully, by this time four years from now, her official title can be President-elect. And speaking of our now President-elect, it would be ridiculous of me to not mention the fact that his election is nothing short of extraordinary. Barack Obama has made a remarkable leap into the Oval Office, on a message of hope and of change, becoming the first African-American president in the history of this nation. Only in America could such an amazing event happen, where the son of a man from Kenya and a woman from Kansas can be elected to the highest office in the land. And, as our president in less than a month, we will afford him all of the respect and scrutiny that said office desires.
However, there is rarely an election in which all of the major players involved emerged as winners. Obviously, Barack Obama won the presidency, but what about everyone else? Well, John McCain finally gets some well-deserved rest. Joe Biden is finally relevant. Hillary Clinton finally gains a cabinet post and is the soon-to-be figurehead of American foreign policy. Even Joe the Plumber can finally buy his business.
Wrapping up on the political front, I would like to highlight Governor Bobby Jindal for his amazing work in revitalizing Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and during Hurricane Gustav. His story, as well as the story of newly-elected Louisiana Representative Joseph Cao, are bright lights in a dark political tunnel populated by people like Gov. Blagojevich, former Gov. Spitzer, and former Sen. Edwards.
We lost many people this year who will be permanently engraved into our memories. Yves Saint Laurent revolutionized the way we dress. Paul Newman and Charlton Heston became our heroes, through legendary on-screen performances and off-screen charity. And perhaps, most poignantly, George Carlin made all of us think and laugh simultaneously.
No rewind of 2008 can be complete without Britney Spears. Admit it—who hasn’t rocked out to Womanizer or Circus? From the psychiatric ward to the top of the charts, Britney showed us that we can rise up from even the rockiest of bottoms.
2008 will hopefully be remembered as the year of turnarounds. People around the world have loudly and clearly said “No” to corruption, from corrupt dictatorships in Venezuela and Guatemala, to a bullying Russia, to encroaching radical Islamic terror in Mumbai, Gaza, and Europe, and to a tyrannical Iran. Climate change was in the spotlight more than ever, being blamed for everything from a summer day to a nippy breeze. And, just as parties began adopting it into platforms, politicians began adopting it as policy, and media outlets began adopting it as gospel, research emerged contradicting its inevitability and veracity. Among other things, it has been shown that global temperatures have been on the decline since 1998, negating whatever warming may have occurred in the past century.
Perhaps the most positive story this year is the War in Iraq. In a situation that looked dire, a complete 180-degree turnaround has been made, thanks in no small part to our brave American troops, the up-and-coming Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi people. And now, at the dawn of 2009, the Iraqi people and their own democratic government take control of that country, securing their hard-fought land in a move that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. As American and coalition forces begin to phase out these next two years, it is finally time in which we can come together, American, Iraqi, and Coalition, and proclaim Victory.
As we look forward to a new year, a new start, and a new beginning, we are still in the midst of economic uncertainty. We must continue to help those who need help the most, through charity, volunteer work, or, simply, respect for our brethren. Accordingly, we must resist the temptation to rely on government to guide us through the dark months ahead and take the reins of self-reliance in the spirit that made America what it is today. And, in these trying times, we have learned to enjoy the three simple things in life: family, friends, and faith.
May Providence guide you and God bless you in 2009.