The best politics news of 2022
I’m as bad as anyone (and worse than a lot!) in finding the negative in the world of politics. Last year left me no shortage of complaints, but there was a lot to be excited about, too.
The January 6 Committee laid out its case and showed Congressmembers can be grown-ups
No, they weren’t really hearings and yes, they were one-sided and nearly degenerated into a campaign bio for Liz Cheney. But this committee did a brilliant job of collecting evidence and laying out their case patiently and deliberately. Anyone whose mind isn’t completely made up on former President Trump learned something. One thing I already knew but was happy to see displayed once again is that most people we put in charge of the day-to-day operations of our governments are committed to the rule of law, are loyal to the nation and democracy, not just person or party, and are willing to take great risks to prove their commitment and loyalty.
If anyone told me Congress would produce a television series that appeared on many best-of-the-year lists, I’d have choked. But this group and its staff showed that congressional oversight could be more than a dreadful duel of campaign talking points. Let’s hope their successors learn from their example.
The United States and Europe gave their full support to Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin badly underestimated the western reaction to his clumsy and, so far, ineffective invasion of Ukraine. Given the history of European countries bickering over almost everything and failing to invest in defense, I would have bet he was right. But thanks in large part to the leadership of President Biden and his national security team, the west was united in condemning the invasion, welcoming war refugees, providing military hardware and assistance, and threatening Putin’s lifeblood, oil exports.
Through nine months the west remains united, is working together to end dependence on Russian petroleum, and isn’t forcing Ukraine to a settlement that would cost it territory. It is also proving that authoritarians should expect to fight a dozen rich and powerful countries any time they decide to pick on a neighbor. (Hi, China.)
Regular Americans took on the Supreme Court
When the court decided there’s no right to an abortion after all (well, honestly, they decided that individually decades ago, but they said it out loud this year), Americans fought back. They passed ballot measures that protect abortion, and they defeated measures that would have restricted abortion. They defeated some of the candidates who promised to end abortion. Many Democrats moved abortion as high on their list of voting criteria as many Republicans had been for decades. And they made a difference.
This same effort must be sustained and will be needed as the court declares marriage is only between white men and women and that only evangelicals have rights as Americans. Congress took a good first step in requiring that states honor marriages entered into in other states, but there’s a long way to go in protecting us from becoming Saudi America. Shit. Just got pretty negative there, didn't I?
Money isn’t everything in politics; sometimes it’s nothing
I was not happy with Oklahoma's statewide election results in 2022, and I’m no supporter of Governor Kevin Stitt. But the tens of millions dumped into the anti-Stitt campaigns by both in- (hello, tribes!) and out-of-state interests were inappropriate in a democracy and, happily, ineffective. This year’s results were just like 2018’s, only that election was a lot cheaper and more democratic.
Oklahoma County is going in the right direction
County Commissioner Carrie Blumert’s first four years in office were a case study in how to lead in local government. She built coalitions, she communicated with constituents, she crusaded to put justice back in the criminal justice system, and she provided a conscience that’s pretty rare in Oklahoma County. She was often in the minority in Commission votes, and she could have been overwhelmed by conservative attacks in her re-election effort. But she worked hard, stayed true to who she was, and I’m happy she’ll have four more years to keep fighting for right in the state’s largest county. And that she’ll be joined by a District Attorney, Vickie Behenna, who is an experienced prosecutor and a similarly dependable crusader for criminal justice reform.
But, wait! There's (maybe) more!
I think it's too soon to say for both, but the Inflation Reduction Act and the defeat of election deniers in the 2022 midterms may turn out to be good news as well.
The Inflation Reduction Act is huge and varied, making significant tax and health care changes and aiming to reduce greenhouse gases. All of these seem initially like great ideas. We won't know for sure until we find out if tax increases on corporations and the very wealthy can be evaded (those guys are always a step or more ahead) and whether a tax-incentive-based approach to greenhouses is appropriate to the scale of the problem. If the taxes and incentives work, this is a long-term win for the country, the world, and those of all species who haven't been born yet.
Election deniers had the rough time they deserved in running for office this year. But they'll be back soon enough and I'll bet that at least one brings in significant votes for president. I'm more concerned about the well-armed, angry, and largely right-wing nuts that have been given legitimacy by the election denier movement. They don't care that much about electoral politics; they care about creating chaos. My guess is they've already moved on from election denial to other "issues" that provide excuses for hate attacks and para-military action. They're looking to launch the next war, like disabling infrastructure or terrorizing public gatherings, and we need to be sure we aren't fighting the last one by getting excited about Secretary of State elections.
...that these last two turn out to be long-term victories and that we can create more in 2023!