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Political Spectrum: A View From the Left


January 8, 2012 by Richard Drake

In your opinion, what were the most significant political events of 2011?

I have been reading the views of others this December, and everyone seems to be pretty well-agreed that the top stories this year revolve around the Fukushima meltdown; the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords; the death of Osama bin Laden; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and Occupy Wall Street.

Okay, fair enough.

I could just type in the above with a line or two of analysis and go re-watch “A Muppet Christmas Carol,” but there are other significant stories that just didn’t get all that much exposure this year.

Such as Sarah Palin’s Magical Mystery Bus Tour, in which the reality show governor conned the press into believing that she might actually risk losing her lucrative television money and throw her hat in the presidential ring.

Even after exaggerations of massive voter fraud have been proven to be just that, legislatures across the country have put into place a series of Draconian voter suppression measures. These laws are widely considered to target minorities and the young. By some cosmic coincidence, these are the same constituencies who voted overwhelmingly Democratic in 2008.

In addition to the attacks on government workers, there is the little-reported story of American Crystal Sugar, which has locked 1,300 union workers out of plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, replacing them with “scabs.” The company CEO has referred to employees as a “cancer.”

In Michigan, the governor’s pet legislature has passed the “Local Government and School District Financial Accountability Act,” also known by some as “The Dictator Act.”

This gives the state the right to take-over any city that is in severe financial straits. An Emergency Manager would be put in place, who would have the power to disincorporate the city, sell its assets, cancel any union contracts, eliminate services and even remove elected — you got that that? — representatives of the people.

This would have been on the evening news, but gosh, we just had to put this Panda bear on. Isn’t he cute, folks?

Those are some of my top stories. But here is the number one story of all:

Across this great country, men and women are rediscovering the lessons they were taught in Social Studies class in elementary school. They know that people can make a difference.

They have woken up to the fact that just voting every couple of years is no longer an option, not when there are those who would take what they or their children have. They march in the streets, they email or call their elected officials, and make documentaries for public access television or YouTube.

They write letters to the editor and sign petitions. They do what they can, even if it is only something small. .

They show their children that they need not be victims, which is a pretty good present at any time of year.

Stuff happened in 2011, just as it will in 2012. But the most significant thing political thing that happened is that many Americans remembered what it means to be an American.

To read Mike Landry’s response to the Observer’s question, click here

Richard Drake

Richard S. Drake has been writing about political and cultural affairs in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years. The author of Freedom Run a science fiction novel, he can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter. He can be contacted at:

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