The Year In: Everything Else

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Over the past week, we've taken stock of the progress and setbacks in health care reform, financial regulation, gay rights, and immigration. On the last day of the year, TAP looks back at everything else.

This year started with a Democratic bust in the special election for Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts and ended with a Republican bang in the midterm elections. Democrats' electoral losses were in large part due to continued economic trouble. However, as long as Democrats continue to push their agenda and champion programs that alleviate economic woes, we see no reason Democrats' fortunes won't improve in two years.

The Supreme Court may have changed American elections for good when it wiped out important campaign finance rules and opened election spending to corporations in Citizens United v. FEC. Though we were initially divided over whether the decision would have a large impact or a small one, after billions of corporate dollars poured into the 2010 elections, even our Citizens United denier recanted. Indeed, the decision has empowered moneyed interests, while marginalizing political parties and everyday voters. Of course, the fight over campaign finance isn't over; the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of local campaign finance laws next year.

Let's not forget the gender wars! The Atlantic declared -- falsely -- that recent trends in education and employment meant "the end of men." And when a record number of Republican women ran for office, it became the Year of the New Woman as well. But this didn't seem to trickle down to the Average Jane. The Paycheck Fairness Act died in the Senate, and the number of women in Congress decreased for the first time in three decades. And despite the triumphant passage of health care reform, access to reproductive services is more uncertain today than it has been in years.

We evaluated Obama at the midterm. We gave Adam his own blog, where he continues to monitor the state of civil liberties in America -- even for robots! And we've gone outside the beltway, writing about small farmers struggling in the shadow of Big Agriculture, the unfulfilled promise of green jobs, the Gates Foundation's model of big aid, and a tough tech reformer named Carl Malamud.

But there are some questions we'll have to let 2011 answer: Just how much damage will Republicans do to the country in order to hurt Barack Obama? Will Tea Partiers assimilate into the GOP or divide the party? The filibuster has brought the Senate to near standstill, will next year bring reform?

Happy reading and Happy New Year.

--Pema Levy

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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