At the end of an awful decade, one so marred by the dismal, disgraceful, and destructive Bush presidency that its stain will not be removed in our lifetime, we entered into 2009 with a spirit of hope. Americans had just elected an African American to the Presidency -- a bold departure from our past that was broader even than the gulf between the previous President's incoherent faux-cowboy belligerence and the soaring rhetoric and highmindedness of Barack Obama. Though we entered upon this last year of the decade of naught with two failed wars still in progress, with a rapidly collapsing economic system, and with the mountain of debt left by the GOP Congress and Mr Bush, nonetheless some of us also felt a deep and reassuring hopefulness -- a sense that we were finally heading in the right direction, that our highest aspirations might finally begin to be met. With such hope and such aspirations came expectations that have not been met.
This last year has been disappointing. We are more deeply engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan than I had hoped. The health care reform bills have fallen short of my expectations. The economic program has been too timid -- too much of a trickle-down Republican model, and too little has been done to help the unemployed and those in real difficulty in these hard times. Watching the Democrats in Congress take their lead from blue dogs, "moderate" Republicans, and Joe Lieberman, has been profoundly disheartening.
Yet, even on the darkest days, hope abides. It is a hope that I cannot explain or defend, but at its center is the belief that a nation that could elect Barack Obama is a nation that can come to understand the righteousness and wisdom of the progressive agenda, and to support that agenda so that Congress and this President can bring its benefits to our children and the generations of Americans who will inherit the America we leave behind when we go.
Wishing you all a happy new year. May all your highest aspirations be realized in the year to come.