by Judith Bambace 

With the blink of an eye, it’s 2012. I hope you have had a happy and healthy holiday season, and are looking forward to a new year of renewed hope and prosperity. 2011 was an amazing year in many ways. The Obama Administration made significant gains, in some cases by executive action. Although the Tea Party Congress is still intent on blocking President Obama’s agenda at all costs, the White House has overseen increased regulation of food and water safety; expanded federal aid for students, veterans and the elderly; and implemented the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. After a long year of dangerous standoffs led by extremist House members, the payroll tax cut was extended, saving millions of Americans from economic disaster. The Administration also deserves credit for some historic achievements on the international scene: nuclear arms reductions between the U.S. and Russia; the end of Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship in Libya; the capture of Osama bin Laden; and the end to U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

It’s been amusing (and in many ways horrifying) to watch the Republican Party implode as the candidates duke it out for the presidential nomination. Some Democrats say it would be a very Happy New Year for President Obama and Democratic candidates everywhere if Newt (with his ersatz intellect, goofy “Big” ideas, and less than stellar history) makes it through the primary gauntlet. Yet, we Democrats cannot get complacent or over-confident. President Obama has considerable challenges, and needs to evoke the “fierce urgency of now.” As we transition into election year, we must take this opportunity to do what Democrats do best by staying focused on the real issues at stake and working, in whatever way we can, to help make real change that will improve the lives of our fellow Americans. Wishing you a year filled with joy, love, peace, health and happiness.

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