As this year draws to a close, I thought to make a quick note of some of the greatest surprises of the year:
1) Occupy Wallstreet – In the last 3 months, the protests have done one great thing. They’ve changed the entire debate going on in Congress. Before, people were talking about the debt ceiling. Now, the very real issues of income inequality have become a talking point for almost every American. The protests show the limits of free speech, which isn’t allowed if it goes against those in power. However, in the day that everyone is a journalist, exposing the footage of the goings on of the day, you find out that the country has a lot of problems within, while espousing freedom elsewhere in the world.
2) Wikileaks – As much as the government dislikes being embarrassed, Wikileaks continues to expose the issues of governments around the world. What has occurred, an open discussion about the politics of countries. The destruction of dictatorships in the Middle East. The true length of corporate politics in the US. New definitions of journalism and who constitutes a journalist. Which leads into the third part
3) Bradley Manning – You can’t talk about one without the other. The trial of Bradley Manning has begun with quite a thought provoking exercise. How do you give a man a fair trial when he’s been abused for 19 months, someone who exposed higher level security documents served no jail time, and Obama’s administration has been the main one bullying whistleblowers? Further, Obama has found Manning guilty as his commander in chief. The facts remain that everyone understands the kangaroo court of Manning. He did far more good and exposes the problems with our justice system. If such a man can be vilified for blowing the whistle on wrong doing, what does that say about our government?
4) SOPA – The epitome of copyright law. Never before have we had such an egregious method to criminalize the entire world through censorship. Bear in mind, the copyright law in the US has had the damaging effect of destroying the lives of individual people through high statutory damages, increased powers for copyright holders, and extended lengths of copyright protection for the enforcements. SOPA’s main power makes this even more egregious by allowing the federal government to become involved with copyright violations. For a FAQ, Declan McCullagh does a fine job of showing the highlights.
5) Income inequality – Perhaps the largest problem with our government at the current moment. It cannot be denied that the money in politics continues to have the largest impact on the laws passed. All of them have been bad and it goes beyond political parties. As it currently stands, the two party system has had a horrid effect of polarizing the people. Meanwhile, the laws passed have been horrid for the public. From the Patriot Act renewal to SOPA, all of the laws have been about the top tier of society passing laws to ensure no economic mobility in the United States. This does not mean that there are no opportunities. As I’ve come to understand these trends, it means that the way we vote people into politics needs to change. Some are focusing on taking money out of politics. I don’t think this is the right approach.
After careful review, I have to consider the ideas of changing the voting system. Perhaps one day I can explain all of the problems with the electoral system and the First past the Post system used by the US. Still, getting the money out of the politics is also a great first step to ensuring the preservation of the US republic.