Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Person of the Year


The Person of the Year was the Tea Party Activist. No one had a greater, obvious, and unexpected impact on the world than the perhaps-millions of people who suddenly rediscovered citizen activism and accountability from elected officials. Not only did they turn out for barely-organized protests around the country in April and July, they showed up at rallies at ad-hoc events, and they flooded town-hall meetings. Their advent frightened the powerful so much that some refused to show their faces in public in a season when fund-raising and handshaking are as traditional as pennant races in baseball.

What did they accomplish? No one can argue that they deflected at least one and possibly two massive government reorganizations of American industry. Without the Tea Party rallies and especially the town-hall turnouts, Congress almost certainly would have passed ObamaCare in July or September at the latest — and with a public option firmly embedded. The House passed cap-and-trade in a rush in the first week of July, but by year’s end, Democrats demanded that Obama shelve the effort. Four Democrats have already announced their retirement in the House, and another switched parties to join the minority, a nearly unprecedented step.

Tea Party activists trumped a President and two of the people on the list above. They reminded Americans that a participatory democracy means that ordinary people have to actually participate — and that when they do, they can actually change the political direction of the nation. Whether or not one agrees with the political stance of the Tea Party activists, no one can doubt that this lesson is long overdue for both the citizenry and the political class that so often only represents them in name only.

And we've only just begun!

No comments:

Post a Comment