Editorial: A quick look at tumultuous 2013

Published 1:18 pm Friday, January 3, 2014

Many of the events of 2013 burned into our memory have more to do with the political landscape that has resulted from a divided America.

Government shutdowns, debt ceilings, a $17.2 trillion debt, low poll ratings for a divided Congress and an anemic rollout of the Affordable Care Act were all part of the bomb blasts that were headlines during the year we are about to see in our rearview mirror.

Names like Obamacare, Benghazi, NSA, Boehner, Reed, IRS and others are synonymous with the year 2013. None of those names is particularly endearing to anyone who had to weather the battles that ensued from each.

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Not since Richard Nixon’s Watergate has this nation been more divided and seemingly disgusted with its leaders. President Obama’s year-end poll rating hit an all-time low of 39 percent saying the president is doing a good job. Congress is even sporting a more dismal poll rating of just 9 percent (that’s House and Senate) and for the entire year the average approval rating for Congress was just 14 percent. That’s the lowest approval rating in recent history. In fact, it’s the lowest in the 39-year history of Gallup.

What has caused all of these sinking ratings of our nation’s leaders?

Well, perhaps it’s a symptom of our nation’s divide. For example, more metropolitan areas tend to lean intensely liberal — New York, New Jersey, California, Washington and Oregon. However, fly-over country — Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana and other southern states — trend more conservative.

Gridlock was broken, according to many political observers, when Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., reached a compromised budget deal that was just signed by President Obama. Whether gridlock has been broken will be evident when the 114th Congress convenes after the first of the year.

A sneak peek would suggest that the 2014 midterm election could result in a huge turnover of the House or Senate and end the ongoing gridlock or it could return a majority of Republicans to the House and maintain Democratic control of the Senate and the net result would be gridlock. However, if the Democrats were to secure a majority in the House and Senate it would give the president the authority to push through more legislation similar to his legacy bill — the Affordable Care Act.

— Brainerd Dispatch, Dec. 30

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