"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.20.2006

year in review: politics

So 2006 was an amusing year in politics. There were the usual suspects, victims of their own hubris, greed, and prejuidices. Abramoff plea bargained and spent the rest of the year giving investigators information about his scandalous dealings. Tom DeLay ran for re-election, won his primary, and withdrew from the race, setting off a very entertaining chain of events with the result that his heavily Republican district will now be represented by a Democrat. George Allen called someone "macaca" and was, mercifully, not re-elected.

There was the expected: George W. Bush waited until after the elections to realize that a new direction in Iraq (and in the Department of Defense) is necessary, and continued almost to the very end of the year to maintain that the U.S. is winning in Iraq. Hillary Clinton started running for president. Leininger spent ridiculous amounts of money on campaigns in Texas. Rick Perry was re-elected as governor.

There was the unexpected, too. In an electoral victory no one would've predicted a year ago, Democrats took control of the House and the Senate. Lloyd Bentsen and Ann Richards died, reminding us that the era of Texas politics over which they presided is gone for good.

Congo held its first democratic elections since the independence period, meaning that most Congolese adults cast the first meaningful vote of their lives. The loser challenged the results in court, and, so far, has not resorted to violence. Small miracles in a place that needs all the help it can get.

And I had the adventure of teaching about all this stuff for the first time this fall. What I learned from my first American government class since high school is that although American government is messy, but its genius is the fact that it's so messy. It's very difficult for an individual to impose his will, and more difficult still to get it financed. Sometimes the system fails or breaks down, but it works more often than not, and for that we can be grateful.

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