Time Magazine has just named President Obama as their Person of the Year. This has been, of course, controversial, and for the usual reasons: much like with the President’s Nobel Peace Prize, one has to wonder what he actually did to deserve it. Surely getting reelected is important, but beside the point; what matters is what you do in office, and I just don’t see much in the way of achievement by the President this year, in which he spent most of it either campaigning or doing nothing to avoid rocking the boat before the election.
But Person of the Year is more of a measure of influence than achievement, and this is not something anyone can measure. After all, Hitler, Stalin, and Khomeini were given the same “honor.” Those of us who don’t work at Time will have to find our own way of understanding the year.
The President is the story of the year in the sense of historical significance, however. The 2012 American elections might go down in history as the tipping point at which it became impossible for America to right its course.
The country was in a bad way before the election, and before Obama’s election in 2008. The country’s three most central problems—government spending, cultural decline, and vulnerability to terrorism—are not the fault of the president, but he has done nothing to solve any of them. 2012 was the year when the American people gave the stamp of approval to all of his policies: Obamacare, the Contraception Mandate, Sandra Fluke, the stimulus, and soaking the rich, all things that would have sounded like lunacy to a center-right country just a quarter of a century ago. And he defeated an eminently qualified candidate in Governor Mitt Romney, who, in the debates (in which he could actually speak to the American people without a liberal filter), made the best case for conservatism since Ronald Reagan. Did John McCain, George Bush, or Bob Dole ever say anything so bold as, “government does not create jobs!”?
We might never be the same, and after the end of the Clinton administration in 2024, we may look back on 2012 as when it all changed.
Why did the country change? Was it because we discovered something? Were liberal policies vindicated, shown to be wise after all? Of course not. Did science show us that gay marriage is equal to actual marriage, abortion to be not the killing of a child but the expulsion of dead flesh, money to grow on trees, healthcare something that can be government-created? Of course not. The laws of reality are the same as ever, but we have changed.
So what about us has changed? I mentioned that Obama has done nothing to combat our cultural decline; in fact, he has been its chief beneficiary. Only Barack Obama could get away with mandating contraception coverage and running advertisements comparing voting for him to sex. Mitt Romney won 56% of married voters, and 53% of married women; Barack Obama won 62% of unmarried voters, and 67% of unmarried women. What a difference marriage makes.
The Democratic Party will continue to promote policies that hurt our country, and that hurt will continue to send people running to the Democratic Party for “help.” When Democrats win elections, they make long-term calculations: they would never have been able to bribe large groups of the population if they had never got into office, and they have been rewarded for this with still more power by these same groups. Republicans have done their share of bribery (see Medicare Part D), but to less avail. True conservatives—the anti-bribery minority—simply cannot compete against this. Because of this, the American spirit will likely continue to erode, and 2012 will go down as a watershed.
The Obama administration tried to hide many of its own policies—Obamacare regulations, Dodd-Frank regulations, etc.—until after the election, and so, 2012 will go down as the last year in American history without these new apparatuses. It is hard to explain, and hard even to imagine, the “fundamental change” that is about to take place in this country.
Despite the Mayan prophecies, the world didn’t end this year. It might have felt like it would at times, but the end is still to come.