A new year begins, bumpy with the legacy of all the months and years preceding. On the brink of the presidential primary season, we see patches and hazards ahead that bear the marks of the candidates, their penchants, and those of previous presidential administrations. We advance in a world filled with drones, guns, bombs, hotheads, and uncompromising minorities, some of these made more fearsome by government missteps or inactivity.
The deeds and failures of our political leaders and America’s most powerful citizens shape the society we must make our way in. As we careen into January, it befits us to acknowledge the best and worst of 2015:
Barack Obama, who achieved most of his agenda for 2015.
Every state that has refused to expand Medicaid.
Rahm Emanuel, narrowly beating out Benjamin Netanyahu.
It’s still Bill Clinton.
Scott Walker, once touted as the ideal GOP candidate.
John Kerry, America’s best statesman since Kissinger.
Most stagnant thinker
The US Congress.
Most original thinker
The creative team behind NASA’s Mars Rover.
Best political theater
Pope Francis addressing Congress.
Worst political theater
Paul Ryan’s beard.
That Carly Fiorina is qualified to be president.
September’s blood moon.
Capitalist of the year
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, now owner and invigorator of the Washington Post.
Turncoat of the year
Ted Cruz, now excoriating a justice he once admired.
Worst political scandal
Chicago’s cover-up of police misconduct.
That the US should wage war against ISIS in the Middle East.
That everyone living in the US should have a legal status.
Boldest political tactics
Best government dollars spent
Investments in NASA that brought us closer than ever to Mars and Pluto.
Biggest government waste
Most of our military involvement in the Middle East.
The swansongs of John Boehner and Joe Biden.
Sorry to see you go
Good-bye to the open out-cry trading pits of Chicago!
Destined for political oblivion in 2016
Marco Rubio, who has foolishly burned his bridges to the Senate.
Destined for political stardom in 2016
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. She is a prime pick for VP.
Image: Ethel Rundquist’s cover illustration
for the January 1916 issue of Vanity Fair, from this source.