2013 in Review: Stories

What a year. With the NSA, Syria, Obamacare, and more begging for attention, where should I begin? To make things easy, let us go month-by-month. I will briefly recount the stories I wrote and address the year’s biggest issues on the way. January beckons.

January 

I wrote two stories in January: one focusing on the GOP’s drastic shift to the right and another urging the Pentagon to allow qualified women to fight on the front lines.

“My Issue With The Republican Party” highlighted a fatal conservative flaw: the movement’s irrational drive for ideological purity at the expense of political victory. My concern reared its  head throughout the year. The government shutdown confirmed my greatest fear: loud, extreme voices, as opposed to moderate, pragmatic sensibilities, are winning the battle for the GOP’s future.

“Let Them Fight” had more to do with current events than “My Issue.” At the time, the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat roles was coming under intense scrutiny from members of the military and Congress. This quote sums up my opinion nicely: “The claim that women will ruin unit cohesion and compromise the military’s ability to fight wars is utterly ridiculous. This argument first arose when Harry Truman ordered the integration of the military following WWII and was used extensively when conservatives argued that openly homosexual soldiers were unfit to serve in the armed forces. In both instances, the government forced integration and the military came out unscathed.”

February

February’s big news came from one of America’s oldest organizations: the Boy Scouts. In my only story of the month (senior year will do that to you), I tackled the Boy Scouts’ apparent desire to lift its ban on allowing openly homosexual boys to join the organization and openly homosexual men to serve as counselors. “Boy Scout Discrimination Must End” made my thoughts pretty clear: the Boy Scouts were wrong to categorically ban homosexuals from participation.

March

March was a busy month. During those fleeting 31 days, I published four articles: one about drones, a second about being a moderate Republican, a third concerning gay marriage, and a fourth addressing human trafficking.

“Stop the Drones,” yet another imperative title (I use those frequently, in case you had not noticed), conveyed my fear that the government’s use of unmanned drones could spread to domestic soil. I do not want that technology used on private citizens.

“Why I’m a Moderate” reiterated something I have stressed for several years: I do not consider myself merely a conservative. I am a moderate Republican, willing to reach across the aisle and unafraid to share opinions with some of the Democratic Party’s most liberal members.

“How to End the Gay Marriage Debate” presented an oft-neglected solution to the marriage debate tearing this country apart. Marriage has never been a civil ceremony; the earliest official records originate in the Jewish community. My compromise? The government should not be involved in marriage. Instead of ‘marrying’ people, it may offer ‘full-rights’ civil unions to any couples it deems fit. That way, religious issues remain religious and civil issues remain civil.

“End Human Trafficking” focused on an issue most politicians ignore. Slavery is a bigger problem today than any time in the past. We are responsible for fighting this plague and saving the people caught in its grasp.

April

In April, I released my largest piece yet: “Religion and the Republican Party.” Less current events and more large-scale investigation, the article addressed three issues on which the Republican Party and Christian faith, which seem to go hand-in-hand, do not agree: the death penalty, taxes, and illegal immigration. On all three, the GOP’s traditional stance flies in the face of Biblical and authoritative doctrine.

May

May was another quiet month. My only story, “Anti-Bullying Law an Attack on Constitutional Rights,” addressed a defective law working its way through the Minnesota State Legislature. The law, though well-intentioned, faced ideological failure in its attempt to stop bullying in Minnesota schools, public and private alike. Its vague message tossed First Amendment rights to the wind and fortunately never made its way to Governor Dayton’s desk.

June 

In June, I tackled three issues: abortion, DOMA, and Syria.

“Amendment XXVIII: Why We Must Ban Abortion” presented a case for banning abortion. Science, lacking religious bias, supports such an argument and makes our obligation to protect unborn human life abundantly clear. I felt it was time to make my opinion on the issue public.

“Yes, DOMA Was Unconstitutional” explained my view that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The irony? I also opposed gay marriage. My argument was simple: if the state recognizes a marriage, the federal government ought to recognize it as well. My seemingly opposing views, then, did not contradict one another; rather, they fit together perfectly.

“A Syrian Disaster: Arming the Enemy” was my first warning against intervention in Syria. The parallels between Assad’s war and the Soviet-Afghan conflict in the 1980s made the danger of involvement clear to me; in fact, I felt intervening was far more dangerous than the alternative — allowing Assad and the rebels (supported by terrorist groups) to continue fighting without U.S. incursion.

July

July was full of travel and absent of writing.

August

August was a big month, during which I penned four articles.

“Chris Christie: The Best Choice” made my 2016 choice absolutely clear. I believed (and still do) that moderates like Chris Christie are the future. If the GOP wishes to ensure long-term political relevance, it must follow Christie’s lead.

“The Rise of Big Brother” presented information most people prefer to ignore. In 1948, 1984 was just a story; today, it is a reality. The government watches us 24/7, we have been conditioned to sacrifice liberty for safety, and political correctness is destroying our language. Big Brother would be proud.

“Our Autocratic President” reminded us how little President Obama cares for the law. Legally required to implement a mandate by today? No matter. He will implement it when he sees fit.

“With Syria, ‘Knowing’ Isn’t Enough” followed up on the growing crisis in Syria. At that point, I actually began to think intervening may not be such a bad idea. The regime had purportedly killed more than 1,000 people with weaponized gas and President Obama was calling for “limited” strikes on military installations. It did not take long for me to abandon those thoughts.

September

September was another busy month, with five new pieces making their way into the public eye.

“What is Democracy?” aired my philosophical definition of a “pure” democracy. Though admittedly random, the piece was an interesting departure from what I normally write.

“Stay Out Of Syria” presented a view I hold to this day: intervention is a terrible idea. The chemical attack may have broken my heart but reason won out. It is easy to make quick decisions based on tragic events or painful photographs. It is much harder to think about a situation objectively and reach an unemotional conclusion. That is what I tried to do with this piece.

“Division Without Purpose” and “Ted Cruz: Hypocrite and Fraud” addressed the GOP’s budget idiocy. Clearly, compromise was not an option when Cruz, Lee, and Paul were in the room. Both pieces expressed my frustration with the Republican Party’s direction. What future do we have if extreme voices carry our flag?

“NSA Stalks America” was a sarcastic look at the NSA’s poor attempt to create Orwell’s nightmare. What more needs be said?

October

October continued my unheralded momentum, contributing 2013’s most popular story. “The Unaffordable Care Act” proved to be a fruitful foray into Obamacare, setting a single-day record for The Elephant in the Corner. As for the unfortunately named Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s failure to create a working website underlined a fatally flawed law and started a health care firestorm that has yet to abate.

November 

November kept the ball rolling, adding five new articles to my portfolio and addressing a number of new issues.

“Liar in Chief” criticized Obama for what turned out to be Politifact’s “Lie of the Year”: his promise that no one would lose their health care plan if they liked it. With millions of Americans booted from their plans since implementation began in early November, the President’s pledge clearly fell short. In fact, evidence suggests his administration knew it could not keep that promise from day one.

“Win Makes it Clear: Christie is Our Man” was written shortly after Governor Christie’s convincing re-election, in which he collected 60% of the vote and sizable numbers of young people, minorities, and women. The victory, coming in one of the nation’s bluest states, has me convinced Chris Christie is ready for the White House.

“Broken Promises” focused on the art of lying, a skill most politicians have mastered. Getting the truth from either side of the aisle is nearly impossible. Unfortunately, I do not see things getting better anytime soon.

“Now is the Time: Legalize Gay Adoption” addressed an issue I am very passionate about. At 10 years of age, my mother, father, twin sister, and I traveled to Moscow to adopt my two younger sisters, also twins. That experience changed me forever. Some families may not look “normal,” but in the end, they are a family. That is what matters most.

“‘Dictator’ Reid Seizes Power in Senate” dealt with one of 2013’s most significant changes: the limitation of legislative filibusters. Harry Reid and the Democrats, frustrated by Republican “stonewalling,” changed the rules such that some executive appointments no longer required a “super majority” for approval. Mark my words: in due time, Supreme Court justices will be appointed with 51-votes. The world’s most powerful political body shaped by a simple majority? What a terrifying thought.

December

Compared to September, October, and November, December was a relatively quiet month…until Phil Robertson came along. I published two stories in 2013’s finale.

“A Step in the Right Direction” confronted the Ryan-Murray budget, which, though imperfect, brought the spirit compromise back to Washington. Does it have problems? Yes. Did it also unite Democrats and Republicans like no budget in the past five years? Yes. That is more important than anything else; one can only hope it was a harbinger of things to come.

“I Stand with Phil” was my 2013 swan song. A&E’s attempt to suspend Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” was ridiculous, to say the least. They shot themselves in the foot, so to speak, by giving GQ unfettered access to an outspoken, Christian Southerner and pretending they had no idea what he would say. If they had not wanted a firestorm, they should have sent a publicist. They did not, and thus had every responsibility to protect their star.

Conclusion

Obamacare, Snowden, Syria, the NSA, Duck Dynasty, government shutdowns, and the like made 2013 a year to remember. Hopefully 2014 is just as interesting in a more positive way. It has been my honor to engage with you this year and I hope it is just the beginning. Happy New Year, my friends!

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