With the presidential and congressional elections, battles over the federal budget, debates over immigration and same-sex marriage, and one of the most watched Supreme Court cases in a generation, 2012 was an eventful year for U.S. politics. Here is The Christian Post's list of the top 10 moments in U.S. politics for 2012.
1. Barack Obama Re-Elected
President Barack Obama once again won the biggest prize in American politics. The Obama campaign's "get out the vote" effort surpassed any previous presidential campaign in its sophistication and use of new technologies and will become a model for future campaigns.
2. 47 Percent
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's "47 percent" gaffe reinforced the image that the Obama campaign had spent millions of dollars over the summer to create: Romney is a wealthy plutocrat who is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said to a meeting a wealthy donors that was secretly videotaped.
In one of the greatest ironies of the election, Romney received 47 percent of the votes cast.
3. Fiscal Cliff
In acts of self-preservation, Congress and President Obama pushed a series of difficult decisions past the November election and into 2013. While the U.S. government is on an unsustainable course with its current rate of deficit spending, economists warn that the combination of spending cuts and tax increases that are all coming at the same time will cause a recession. Thus far, political leaders have been unable to come to an agreement that will both avoid the fiscal cliff and reduce deficit spending for the long term.
4. Supreme Court Upholds "Obamacare"
In one of the most anticipated Supreme Court decisions in a generation, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."
In a surprise to many, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberals on the court to rule in favor of the most controversial component of the new law -- the individual mandate to purchase insurance. Conservatives argued that the federal government did not have the authority to require Americans to purchase health insurance. Roberts said the authority can be found in Congress' taxing power because the penalty for not purchasing health insurance is a type of tax.
5. Birth Control Mandate
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in January that all employers would be required to provide contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs in their employees' health care plans. There was a religious exemption written into the rule, but it is so narrow that most religious groups do not qualify.
So far, there have been about 40 lawsuits from religious groups and companies founded upon religious principles arguing that the mandate violates their religious freedom.
The Obama administration has promised to make an accommodation for the nonprofit groups, but no accommodation has been made even as these organizations must renegotiate their health care plans for next year. A court recently ruled that it will hold the administration to its promise and required regular updates on the progress toward an accommodation.
6. Obama Changes Mind on Same-Sex Marriage
President Obama announced in May that he changed his mind about same-sex marriage. Citing the "golden rule," he said he was no longer opposed to government recognition of gay marriages. He was preparing to make the announcement later in the year, White House officials said, but after Vice President Joe Biden argued in favor of gay marriage on a Sunday talk show, they felt compelled to make the announcement earlier.
7. GOP Presidential Candidates Tone Deaf on Immigration
The Republican presidential nominees damaged the Republican brand among Latino voters with their often harsh rhetoric on immigration. Only Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry supported immigration reform policies, often to the sound of boos from Republican audiences during the debates. Moving to the right of Gingrich and Perry during the primaries may have helped Romney secure the nomination, but it ultimately hurt his chances with the growing Latino vote during the general election. Romney's use of the phrase "self deport" to describe his immigration policy was, in particular, viewed as highly insensitive.
On the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorists attacked a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Two separate scandals arose in the aftermath of the attack. Requests for additional security were denied before the attack. Plus, the Obama administration spent two weeks misleading the public on what led to the attack. They claimed it was a spontaneous attack sparked by a demonstration in response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. There was, however, no demonstration before the attack.
9. Romney Wins First Debate
Democrats were in panic mode after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Denver, Colo. Romney's exceptional performance combined with Obama's lackluster performance helped Romney gain some much needed momentum. While it was ultimately not enough to secure the presidency for Romney, it created a much tighter race in early October.
10. War on Women
Throughout much of 2012, Democrats accused Republicans of waging a "war on women." As evidence of this "war," three events were most often cited. First, they accused Republicans of wanting to restrict access to contraceptives (because, supposedly, opposing a mandate that requires insurance companies to provide contraceptives for free is the same as denying access). Second, they accused Republicans of opposing equal pay for equal work for women (because of opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Act, even though the act is not an equal pay for equal work law, but changes the statute of limitations for the law). And third, they brought attention to two Republican senate candidates who made insensitive and misinformed remarks about rape (though those remarks were universally condemned by Republican Party leaders).