Democrat Elizabeth Warren waves to supporters after winning the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts.
There is never a dull moment in American politics — especially during an election year.
But the outcome of the presidential election wasn’t the only memorable event of 2012. It has been quite an action-packed year in politics as a whole. Not only in Washington D.C., but also in individual states. Not only in a single issue area, but a plethora of matters that stir debate among Americans throughout the nation every day.
As the year comes to a close, let’s take a few steps back and review some of the highs and lows in American politics.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — more commonly known as Obamacare — in a five-to-four ruling.
Since the decision, the healthcare reform act continued to stir debate throughout the year, from the controversy surrounding the Aug. 1 rollout of its contraceptive mandate (requiring plans to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control) to its role in the election.
While Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney vowed to repeal the act on his first day of office, President Obama called the Supreme Court’s decision “a victory for people all over this country” and many hailed it as the signature achievement of his presidency.
Later in the year, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case that revolves around the constitutionality of public universities’ use of affirmative action in their admissions processes.
While a decision is pending, it is an important decision to watch on as the case brings into consideration the issue of race, as well as the notion of education as an equalizing factor.
Also in October, tragedy struck as Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast.
Even in times of tragedy, politics can hardly ever be truly put aside. In the storm’s aftermath, there was much debate concerning the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the role of federal government in dealing with natural disasters. At the same time, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, widely praised the way President Obama, a Democrat, handled the storm, setting forth a rare display of bipartisanship that many argued affected the outcome of the election.
Although his win of a second term was, undoubtedly, one of the more memorable moments in 2012, President Obama was not the sole victor on election night.
It was a big night for female politicians, as New Hampshire elected the first all-female congressional delegation and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took seats in the Senate, while Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Richard Mourdock (R-Ind.), candidates who had drawn criticism for comments on abortion and rape during election season, lost the races in their respective states.
2012 was also a year during which significant decisions were reached through ballot measures. On election night, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana, while voters in Massachusetts approved medical marijuana.
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington legalized same-sex marriage, while voters in Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment that would ban its recognition.
It was an election night that not only demonstrated the power of the vote, but also made strides toward a truer meaning of equality in the country.
But with the nation still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, still mourning the deaths of children and educators in Sandy Hook and the economy on the precipice of the “fiscal cliff,” it is more crucial to seek out lessons learned in 2012 than to simply look back and celebrate the victories.
As always, much work remains to be done — as always, in the hopes that next year will be better.
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