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2008 Recounted with Heart and Soul

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New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

From the Iowa Caucuses to Obama vs. Hillary to the haunting rise of Sarah Palin to the Wall Street bailout (which both Barack Obama and John McCain supported) to the celebrated election of Barack Obama, 2008 was a year where anything and everything happened. As the empire crumbled, the empire was rebuilt. The contradictions the Bush Administration created came to a head and people took notice.

The American people unmistakably voted out Bush when they voted in 2008. Many were also happily voting for Obama and were pleased to have found somebody they could finally invest their hopes and dreams into after too many recent elections where the candidates were lackluster. What is unclear and still to be determined is whether or not the American people are willing to sacrifice themselves or their livelihoods for a better America; we know the American people will vote and volunteer for a rock star candidate but will they be compelled to do more?

I would not post an account of what I did this year and my expectations for 2009 if I did not think that I had set an example for other Americans. If more Americans were tuned in and involved in activities similar to the ones that I was this year, we would be even closer to the America of our dreams.

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The following account, I trust, will compel you to step outside your comfort zone and do more than read articles which feature progressives or liberals baying at the moon.

This year, for me, the personal became the political. The political became personal.

With the two intertwined, I wrote articles from January to now describing the political landscape, the peace movement, why Bush and Cheney must be impeached, removed, and prosecuted, etc. There was nothing I didn’t seize upon and pick apart.

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The first month of the year quickly saw the presidential campaign I was a part of, the Dennis Kucinich for President Campaign, become paralyzed and fade away.

Dennis Kucinich had been the contender I picked to win the presidential horse race. Without knowing the power media had to decide elections, I wrote many articles explaining why he would be the best Democratic nominee for president (and, unfortunately, I ignored Sen. Mike Gravel).

By the end of January, Kucinich had to run back to Cleveland to save his seat in the House of Representatives. I parted ways with friends who I had made in Chicago while campaigning for Dennis Kucinich.

It didn’t take long for the media to get the story they had been aiming for---the Democratic Party nomination would be fought for by a black man and a white woman. No matter what, there was a good chance that a huge landmark would take place in civil rights history either for women’s rights or African-American rights.

It’s still hard for me to forget that Obama and Clinton were the final two because the media ignored Kucinich and also refused to cover Gravel. At a time when antiwar sentiment was by many calculations on the rise (with a majority opposing the Iraq War), the media refused to properly cover Kucinich or Gravel (who as senator read the Pentagon Papers in a filibuster against the draft during the Vietnam War).

Prior to 2008, I had begun organizing with students from Columbia College who had participated in protests or rallies organized in Chicago by the World Can’t Wait. I had participated in my first march and rally in October of 2007. But, I had never participated in the organization of events to call attention to the crimes and injustices being perpetrated by our government.

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I knew then that if the Democratic Party nomination was going to go to Obama or Clinton there was going to be a need for a vibrant peace movement. Both had antiwar credentials that would make Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. quiver (especially since many considered and still consider one or the other to support peace policies).

I helped organize and promote the organization of a protest, a march, and day of resistance to call attention to the fifth anniversary of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. The march involved thousands taking to the streets in the evening. The day of resistance involved hundreds across the nation acting boldly in many ways to call attention to the illegal and inhumane war that supposedly Democrats were going to end in 2006 but were doing little to nothing to stop.

The more I put myself out there, the more I was willing to take charge. I took on the task of developing a media reform group for students on Columbia College’s campus. The group developed into a group of 5 to 7 individuals, students and faculty/staff, who attended meetings and discussed media reform and justice issues. The meetings involved plans to go to the Free Press’ National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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