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Tomorrow marks the start of a new year. I've seen a large number of posts on Facebook about the supposedly uniquely horrible nature of 2016. Though it certainly seems that 2016 had its fair share of unfortunate events, the truth is that every year has its highs and lows: very few are uniquely anything. The year that's drawing to a close is no different.
Even so, I try not to dwell in the past. "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." It's important to learn from the past and to incorporate those lessons into our future decision making, but since history doesn't necessarily repeat itself, we shouldn't get bogged down in the past. What's more is that frequently the "uniquely horrible" events of one year cannot be truly labeled "uniquely horrible" until well after that year has ended.
The best way to commemorate passing years is to draw "lessons learned" and then to focus on coming years. The years past are in the past; they cannot be changed. The years to come are the ones that will affect each and every one of us. Thus, those should be more the subject of discussion than should the unchangeable past.
Plus, why spend time dwelling in a prior year when the coming year appears to have its own set of substantial challenges to discuss? During 2017, our country and our world will face a large number of daunting challenges, and a plan for addressing them isn't clear. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have fully delineated plans for tackling our most substantial challenges.
(1) The U.S. healthcare system remains deeply flawed, including steep costs and disparities in care that range from the best on Earth to barely acceptable even by the lowest of Western standards. (Plan to address: Murky)
(2) Our national debt, which is the only true existential threat we face, will continue to balloon. This imperils not only American prosperity but also that of the entire Earth. (Plan to address: None)
(3) ISIS has seen much of its territory seized, has experienced drops in funding and in manpower, and is being pressured on all fronts. Even so, the group remains dangerous, and many more ISIS-inspired and/or -directed attacks should be expected over the coming year. (Plan to address: None)
(4) America's educational system will continue to struggle mightily by most metrics. This impacts everything from standard of living to life expectancy to general economic health. (Plan to address: None)
(5) The effect of emissions is beginning to have an impact both on the climate and on people's health around the world (lung cancer, etc.). The health and economic costs will continue to mount. (Plan to address: None)
(6) Enormous numbers of American workers are unemployed. An even larger number are under-employed. Millions haven't seen a pay raise in years. (Plan to address: Murky)
(7) China is challenging American interests in the Pacific Ocean as no country has since Japan during World War II. (Plan to address: None)
(8) Russia's Vladimir Putin is increasingly emboldened. From coercing American allies in Europe to meddling in American elections to developing the ability to attack American infrastructure, Putin is a problem for the United States as never before. (Plan to address: Murky)
(9) Government spending (especially federal government spending) is completely out of control. The size of our budget is larger than the GDP's of all except three countries. (Plan to address: None)
(10) Britain will shake the foundations of Europe by formally initiating negotiations for leaving the European Union. The effects of this action, whether good or bad, will be felt here in the U.S. as well. (Plan to address: Still being developed)
Our country faces these challenges without clear direction or planning. We face it more divided than we've been in at least several decades. If this isn't enough to force your focus from the past year to the next one, then I'm not sure that anything could.
Furthermore, even though our government appears, on the surface, to be more united than it has been in a very long time (Republicans control two branches outright and may soon control all three), that too goes only surface deep. Republicans lost ground in Congress in 2016 and do not have a filibuster-proof majority. Thus, compromise with Democrats will be required on some issues.
Republicans ourselves are divided. Congress and the incoming administration will not see eye-to-eye on every issue (this is already clear). Thus, the White House and Congress will have to compromise even within their own party. All of this adds an additional degree of uncertainty.
One thing that should unite us is this though: the success of our government directly impacts the success of each of us individually. Our government(s) regulates our economy, defends our nation, protects us from terrorism, administers our schools, and more. It behooves all of us to pray for the success of our leaders. Let us pray that in 2017 our leaders are wise, thoughtful, and informed. Let us pray that they are willing to compromise when it's prudent and able to stay the course when it isn't.
The United States of America is the world's greatest economic, diplomatic, military, and intelligence power (by wide margins in all cases). Here's to doing everything we can to help our leadership protect and expand our strengths over the coming year and beyond.
Dear Mr. Republican is a guest post. LibertyLOL does not believe that a Chinese challenge of our 'interests' in the Pacific, Putin 'hacking an election', and global climate-changing emissions are outside of where our principles lie for future American Prosperity.
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