I put this collage of sorts together marking what I felt were some of the most significant moments in the year 2008, in no apparent order I should add. Some had been expected, while some were unexpected. Others had been long in the works yet still managed to blindside the world. I felt that I could codify the year and my impressions of it by going through what I put together in these 15 photos…
- Proposition 8: Gay rights and gay marriage took a huge blow in 2008. In the same year, gays got the right to marry in one the biggest and most influential states in America, and then saw it taken away at the bitter end. As a proponent of judicial restraint, I was caught in a conundrum when the California Supreme Court declared gay marriage constitutional. I don’t like courts making progressive decisions and I am a strong advocate for strict-constructionism. However, I was glad to see gay marriage in place in such a large state and pulled an “ends justify the means” bit in order to assuage my ideological concerns. Unfortunately, the overreaching of the judiciary invoked the ire of conservative groups, who introduced a ballot measure which overturned marriage on Super Tuesday. It enrages me that we let factional majorities decide what rights minorities get. Apparently no one reads the federalist papers anymore…
- Barack Obama: Very little to say here – we all lived it. I will never forget watching the returns with my best friend Kyle, and driving to Franklin St. and celebrating in the middle of the road with hundreds of others. It was a monumental moment in history, and the palpable energy lasted on campus for weeks. I didn’t vote for Barack, but I am pleased with many of his positions and cabinet appointees, and am greatly looking forward to his work as President in 2009.
- Wall St.: The economy was also a big duh. This was coming for a while, and now that it’s here. The fall of the American International Group, the scrambling and improvisation of Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke to save market capitalism, and the complete revaluation of the American conception of how markets should be run all marked 2008. For free marketeers like myself, it was a year on the defense, and one that marked the end of an era.
- Scandals and Crime: It must have been a fucked up year if O.J. Simpson actually went to jail! Joking aside, O.J. finally got put away where he has deserved to be for years. Of course, political scandal rocked the year as well. Oddly enough, the Democratic Party took the cake on dirty crooks with Eliot Spitzer sleeping with a hooker and Rod Blagojevich trying to sell Barack Obama’s senate seat…allegedly…
- Fidel Castro: Fidel Castro, who apparently and astoundingly is still alive, relinquished power to his brother Raul, thus ending the longest dictatorial reign in history. I find that impressive on his part, and rather pathetic on the United States’ part. Hopefully 2009 will bring a new Cuban policy that will open up the island and give the citizens there a chance to SEE what capitalism and freedom afford.
- The Primary: How could we ever forget this primary season. On the Democratic side, Barack scored an early unlikely victory in the Iowa caucuses, subverting Hillary’s attempts at wrapping up the nomination quickly by capitalizing on her hubris. He focused on the small states more and proved both that Mark Penn is an idiot and that he should never be underestimated. The Republicans found a populist preacher in Mike Huckabee who Huckaboomed and Huckabusted but still spiced up the season. Front-runner Giuliani staked it all on Florida and lost, proving that the early primaries are, unfortunately, essential.
- The Debates: The debates were very boring, a surprise after the exciting primary season. Everyone was just burned out, and the debates have become so scripted that very little was truly impromptu. Of course, everyone did enjoy the Sarah Palin/Joe Biden debate, if not for the substance (there was none) then at least for the opportunity to see Sarah Palin try to sound knowledgeable.
- Reverend Wright: This gave Obama quite a headache, and it should have. He had no excuse as to why he revered the man he called a second father and whose church he had attended for over a decade while that man was yelling “God Fuck America.” Reverend Wright’s blatantly insensitive and inflammatory remarks threatened to capsize the Obama campaign, and prompted him to go through with the race in America speech that many were urging him to give anyway.
- The Olympics: The Olympics were a month-long affirmation of “The Rise of the Rest.” China showed that it could not only create magnificent facilities and put on a great games, but that it could also win the medal count. The fact that China did this while under serious environmental strain and while maintaining authoritarian restrictions on citizens and journalists showed the somewhat ugly side of the modern geopolitical structure.
- George Bush: In 2009, George Bush will only see 20 days as President. 2008 was the final year in eight long years of the Bush reign. The man shaped American policy and shaped the world at the dawn of the 21st century and the waning years of American solitary dominance. It cannot be underestimated how crucial his role has been in forging the new century and America’s future, for better or for worse. And I firmly believe that time will tell, but time it will take.
So I eagerly look forward to 2009. I have the full intention of being as libertarian as always and as skeptical of authority as always. I am likely to be as cynical as ever in my posts. However, I like to think that I am all the wiser for having lived through another year in this amazing world. I say goodbye to 2008 and say “good riddance.” It was a rough year for us all and will likely be remembered so for many years to come. I am nevertheless as optimistic as ever that a new year will bring new promise, and that the world will lift its head up yet.