The Occupy Wall Street movement seems less visible as 2014 bursts into view but it has left the feeling that in fact the frail economic recovery in the U.S. continues to lavish benefits on the very top of the economic ladder. The agenda also shows a number of tendencies which puzzle political observers.
New York City has a clearly progressive leader after two decades of conservative leadership. Bill de Blasio talks about lowering the inequality gap with taxes paid by the rich and wants to stop present questionable tactics of stop and search.
On the other side of the political spectrum the Republicans are sure to face an intense internal struggle for power between Tea Party advocates, who continue to wail against Obama's medical care program, and more moderate fans of the Grand Old Party. "They are sure to make a big ruckus," said a social worker concerning the opposition of conservatives to Obamacare, "but frankly they won't be able to do much unless and until they get a Republican into the presidency."
Same sex marriage? President Barack Obama opposed it...until his second term in office. While it has been traditionally on the "no" list, it has recently gotten a push by groups as varied as progressives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives and others. It seems to be rolling across the country, taking with it even conservative hang-outs such as Utah.
Spying? Until recently nobody in the Obama administration seemed concerned about the legal and constitutional implications of the National Security Agency's snooping into millions of telephone and internet communications by citizens. On the contrary, it was considered an efficient way to struggle against "terrorism."
But then Edward Snowden turned things upside down by revealing just how snoopy the NSA is. Now, according to a recent poll, more than 50% of the population feel threatened by the intelligence agency's policies. In reaction to the growing mood of concern over spying, President Obama has made some not very convincing promises to have the program revised in some of its more irritating aspects.Yet the debate is sure to continue:
"Snowden is my hero!" wrote Heather Ann Czerniak in a letter to U.S. Today. "He showed the world just now vulerable people are to snooping by Americans." Tricia Beals couldn't have disagreed more: "He is a traiter. It is despicable that his actions are celebrated."