Home > Uncategorized > The Rubio Dispatch – 2011 Year In Review and Beyond

The Rubio Dispatch – 2011 Year In Review and Beyond

As 2011 ends and we head into 2012, I can’t help but stop and wonder about what challenges and opportunities lay ahead in the coming year. Not just for the nation itself, but for the world.

As a nation, we’re facing extraordinary social and economic issues that have plagued this country for years and 2011 showed us that perhaps those challenges will spill over into the coming year. I’m certain that things may get worse before they get better, but it is very telling that 2011 has shown us that throughout the world, millions of people, under the direst of circumstances, have shown a kind of resilience that I didn’t think we had in us as a people.

I saw this almost immediately in early 2011 with the rise of the Arab Spring. Many unfamiliar with the region learned of places like Tunisia, which was the first of many to relinquish their right from generational-long tyranny. As things moved along into Egypt and Libya, it was apparent that things were not going to slow down. In the United States, we were met with incredible protests in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. Labor was facing extinction and suddenly, the working class was in full force, protesting the harsh legislation being pushed by anti-union state officials. By the summer, the rest of the world was seeing massive protests, with the rise of Occupy Wall Street here in the United States and anti-austerity protests in Greece and other cities across Europe. You would have to have been living under a rock to not see the impact these revolutions and massive protests were having across the world. Regardless of what your opinion is on the Middle East uprising or Occupy Wall Street for that matter, something is happening…something I never thought would.

A year ago, I was disillusioned. Personally and professionally, I was beginning a tumultuous journey in my own life all the while feeling an incredible disappointment in society in general, knowing that too many had grown complacent with the status quo and felt no reason to assemble or stand up for what was right. So I was surprised at how 2011 began and in a way I did not expect at all. Tunisia and Wisconsin, two completely different worlds, were both faced with a battle to bring “people” and “ideas” to the forefront. We were no longer going to sit back and watch the top take what was rightfully ours. The general population was ready for a fight. As my year became increasingly challenging, I was also beginning to feel inspired. The tides were shifting.

As we move forward into 2012, questions remain. Will the economy get better? How will the middle and working class fit into the equation? We’ve learned overtime that austerity does not work, particularly in an era in which the gap between rich and poor are so great. What is the alternative? What will become of human rights and immigration reform? Will we ever get a chance to debate the DREAM Act?

This is the question we will be asking in 2012 as the United States and other countries around the world hold elections. Every other election year, we say that it is a “defining moment.” We believe each and every time that this election is the one that will make or break our chances of overcoming the challenges that lay ahead. Will the 2012 election here in American be the defining moment in our own lives or will we treat it the way we have done every other election in the history of this country?

The coming election is an important one, plain and simple. There is just too much at stake. This last year, we have seen attempts to strip away the rights of so many in our communities.

UNION BUSTING

Unions have faced incredible challenges in the Midwest and in other parts of the country in the last year. Entities that have only helped to enrich our working and middle classes overtime, helping to salvage deteriorating working conditions and advocating for balanced work hours and pay, are now confronted with the possibility of having their right for collective bargaining stripped, adding an incredible burden on the backs of hard working individuals all across the country. Fortunately, November 8 put an end to the threat in Ohio, where Governor Kasichs union busting bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the citizens of Ohio. Furthermore, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing an inevitable recall in 2012 after his own push against the union’s in his own state, took a turn for the worst against him and his supporters. American’s in these two states have in fact, taken the lead to defend the working-class across the nation.

OPERATION EAGLE EYE

Voter suppression is clearly a hot topic today, but it is going to be a continuing battle in 2012. As we move forward with supporting our candidates, Republican-led legislatures in states across the country are pursuing legislation targeting and could deter people of color and the elderly from voting in masses. A right that millions would die for in other parts of the world is now being threatened here at home. An Op-ed piece by Heather Digby Parton from Al-Jazeera gives a very clear outline of the historical significance voter suppression has made in this country at the hands of Republican operatives. Various reports throughout 2011 have illustrated an intensifying debate and political maneuvering that could undermine any real and true democracy in the coming elections in 2012. What are we going to do to stop this suppression and keep a basic American right, in tact?

AMERICAN JOBS ARE NOT IN MY UTERUS

Early 2011 showed us that the Conservatives, a group committed to “small government,” pursued a woman’s uterus with a vengeance (and not in a sexy way). Early on in 2011, the Republican-led Congress, who campaigned on “where are the jobs?” in 2010, focused on a woman’s right to choose in its first few bills introduced in Congress. This same issue spilled over to the states nation-wide, particularly in states like Mississippi, where an amendment was introduced that read, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization.” Personhood amendments could be interpreted to make several forms of birth control illegal, challenging not only Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which placed contraception under the protection of a constitutional right to privacy. Women and men of all ages came out in droves, challenging lawmakers and defeating the measure on November 8. A huge win for pro-choice advocates at the grassroots level, who not only defied expectations, but showed that once again, a woman’s right to choose will not be taken. The fight continues as the right continues to pursue and challenge individual rights as they attempt to covet a long historical ideology of “small government.”

WE’RE OUT. WE’RE PROUD. GET USED TO IT.

The LGBT community, which has endured a very long civil right’s history, has encountered many challenges in 2011, yet experienced very successful benchmarks in the last 18 months. With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and states like New York legalizing gay marriage, gay activists continue to face strong opposition from groups on the right and evangelical Christians committed to stripping away these individual rights. In some cases, there have been attempts from these groups, here at home, to support “kill the gays” legislation in other parts of the world, a demonstration that this isn’t the end for anti-gay legislation and that perhaps the issue will only see greater backlash from the right. How do we continue to keep American’s engaged in this issue of gay rights and maintain momentum against those interested in destroying the lives of millions of American’s who only want the best for themselves and their families, regardless of sexual orientation?

THE I-WORD

Finally, there are our undocumented brethren across this country, who are currently facing the gravest of threats to their own liberty. At the end of 2010, Congress had an opportunity to debate the DREAM Act, an undeniably bi-partisan and forward-thinking piece of legislation, but the debate never made it to the floor of the United States Senate and the bill was dead on arrival. Instead, Republican’s (once supporters of the bill), with the help of Blue Dog Democrats, filibustered any attempt to bring it to the floor and the DREAM Act died. While the bill itself died last December, the dream for 12 million undocumented individuals in this country have not. Since then, young and undocumented individuals all across the country have been coming out and publicly disclosing their immigration status, regardless of the extreme consequences they face as the Obama administration announced in 2011 the nearly 400,000 deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement made. No longer will young undocumented immigrants remain silent. There is too much at risk to continue to live in the shadows of a broken immigration system. In 2011, we were introduced to Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who came out as an undocumented immigrant and has led a nationwide conversation to Define American. A pursuit to change the American immigration debate and declare that we are human, not illegal.

2011 was not the best year, but it wasn’t the worst either. The world survived undeniable suffering, but there were hints of a pursuit to survive throughout the world, despite the ultimate chaos and turmoil that exists. 2012 is a mythical year, who many see as an end to all that we have come to know. However, I believe that it is the start of a new era which will provide us with an opportunity to engage our communities and demonstrate a greater good for all. At least that’s my hope. We shall see…

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