Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

What was the most important political event of 2010? (Part 2)

Stanley Carlson-Thies, Cherie Harder, Jedd Medefind, Clinton Stockwell, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Ashley Woodiwiss


?What was the most important political event of 2010?

We asked a number of Capital Commentary contributors to answer the question, "What was the most important political event of the year 2010, and what difference did that event make?" Below you will find some of the answers.

Hard to name one pivotal event when the year saw neither the outbreak of world war nor the coming of King Jesus.  But note the Supreme Court’s terrible ruling permitting a state law school to deny recognition to a student legal club because of its Christian standards for leaders.  Pluralism is impossible if associations aren’t free to be distinctive.

   — Stanley Carlson-Thies is President of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.

Like the proverbial dog that didn't bark, there are times when what doesn't happen is more revealing—and indicting—than any action.  Instead of addressing runaway spending, swelling entitlements, and mounting debt, Congress passed a spending stimulus and expanded health care entitlement.  We are compounding the interest on our eventual payment to the piper.

   — Cherie Harder is President of the Trinity Forum.

It’s hard not to view the conservative resurgence in the mid-term elections as the most notable political event of 2010.  But this seemingly momentous turn was a stage-setting event, not a climax.  Whether it was truly significant or just another pendulum swing is a story to be written in 2011 and, perhaps especially, 2012.  The curtain’s now up, the actors are coming on, and a fascinating scene is about to begin.

    — Jedd Medefind is President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

As I look back over the year 2010, I believe that the most significant events politically to be those of the last month of 2010.   The Obama administration proved that it can govern and can do so in a bipartisan fashion.  The passing of the financial reform package, which extended tax cuts for every American, the extension of unemployment benefits for 13 months, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” provide an enduring legacy.  On top of this was the passing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, a trade agreement with South Korea, and funding for 9/11 first responders.   It was unfortunate that The DREAM Act was not passed as well.  As a result, immigrant children who live but were not born in the US will continue to be punished.   December 2010 was the greatest month for the Obama Presidency.

    — Clinton Stockwell is Executive Director of the Chicago Semester.

2010 saw the end of combat operations in Iraq, and the surge in Afghanistan; nobody much noticed, and nothing much changed. Thus the most important political event of the year was one of cognitive omission, with the significance being our collective acceptance—unjustifiable on either pacifist or just war grounds—of perpetual warfare as a condition of national existence.

    — Tyler Wigg-Stevenson is the Director of the Two Futures Project

There are so many political events of 2010 to choose from: A Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v FEC, which opened the floodgates for corporate spending in political campaigns, the passage of the landmark health care bill (labeled "Obamacare" by its critics), the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the rise of the Tea Party; and the November elections which returned the Republicans to power in the House. Tempting each. But I would point to a little reported or commented upon item: The September 16, 2010 report by the U.S Census bureau that stated, "The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available." The release of this report raises important issues regarding the structure of our political economy and to what degree those structures are themselves unjust, creating and sustaining widespread practices of injustice across the whole of our society.

   — Ashley Woodiwiss is Grady L. Patterson Professor of Politics, Erskine College.

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