Ken Connor

"Out with the old, in with the new!"

Rarely have those words been uttered with more enthusiasm than at the beginning of 2009.

2008 was an historic and unsettling year. Our economy imploded, the President abandoned free market principles "in order to save the free market system," and government assumed an unprecedented role in financing our economy. Business magnates, from bankers to automakers, pleaded for a bailout—and got one from Uncle Sugar. Gas prices took a roller coaster ride, soaring, then plunging in the second half of the year. Political and celebrity scandals abounded, from John Edwards' and Eliot Spitzer's infidelities to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's pay to play scandal to Britney Spear's meltdown and resurgence. Things were so chaotic on the domestic front that some almost forgot that there was a war going on. Not surprisingly, Americans voted for "change" and elected their first African-American as President. The Democrats took control of both houses of Congress and Republicans were kicked to the curb.

But rather than dwell on the best and worst of 2008, it may be a better use of our time to look ahead to what's in store for our country in the new year.

The dawning of a new year is always an exciting time. We celebrate it by popping corks on champagne bottles, lighting sparklers, and watching the big ball drop in Times Square. We get together with friends and loved ones and count down the hours, minutes, and seconds until the new year. The celebration is important, for the advent of a new year is a symbol of what is to come, of new beginnings, resolutions, renewal, and the hopes of all to be better and to live better in the year to come.

This new year provides us with a new opportunity to improve on the sorry state of politics and the economy in our country. Our culture's character was on display during 2008. We paid a high price for the lack of it and we have a chance for reform in 2009.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.