A lot of Republicans are making headlines right now. In fact, it seems like only Republicans are in the news. It’s certainly going to be interesting, not to mention horrifying, to watch what they do over the next year. But that doesn’t mean the nation’s liberals aren’t making a big impact. Liberals had a huge year in 2012, especially on Election Day . So, perhaps it would be more cheerful to know which Democrats we should all be keeping our eyes on in 2013.
1. Barack Obama
The President, of course, is the most obvious Democrat to place on this list. He’s the first African-American to be President and he just won a second term in office. In 2013, President Obama holds all of the cards because of his huge victory over Mitt Romney. He has plenty of political capital and he intends to use it. The President has already indicated that his first priority is the economy and jobs. Obama is looking to raise taxes on the wealthy, invest in education, and repair America’s crumbling infrastructure. 2013 also looks to be a major foreign policy year as unrest in the Middle East continues to spread and North Korea once again looks for attention on the world stage. 2013 will be one incredibly busy year for the President and it’ll be interesting to see how the first year of his second term plays out.
2. Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts Senator is a freshman this year, but that’s not going to stop Elizabeth Warren. She’s coming to Capitol Hill to do a job and she damn well intends to do it. On day one of the new Senate session, Warren plans on pushing for new filibuster rules that would help get the Senate working again. But that’s not all – she’s already struck terror into Wall Street before her election and, now that she is on the Senate Banking Committee, the suits on Wall Street should be looking over their shoulders repeatedly. Warren looks like a Senator who wants to get a lot of things done on behalf of the middle class and poor and her first year could be nothing less than spectacular. By the end of 2013, I wouldn’t be surprised if she became the most powerful woman in the nation’s capital. And that is worth watching.
3. Harry Reid
The Senate Majority Leader is already making waves by placing Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Banking Committee and he;s also looking to change the filibuster rules on the first day of the new session. Reid may be a reserved man, but lately he’s been more willing to pick fights with Republicans who seek to stall the Senate at every turn. The man from Nevada is looking to bet on President Obama’s second term agenda and it looks like he’s not willing to let anybody stand in the way of progress.
4. Claire McCaskill
She defeated Todd ‘Legitimate Rape’ Akin by a large margin on Election Day and now the Missouri Senator is looking to bridge the large gap between Republicans and Democrats by being the moderate Democrat in the middle. Already a power player in the Senate, McCaskill looks to continue her fight on behalf of our men and women in uniform and the veterans who have already fought and need care. McCaskill joins Elizabeth Warren as one of the most powerful women in Washington, so you could bet that fighting for women’s issues will also be in the cards in 2013.
5. Nancy Pelosi
She may only be the House Minority Leader, but this California congresswoman holds a lot of power and she packs a punch each and every time she speaks. Pelosi is in charge of a House minority party that includes the most women in American history. That alone is a testament to her influence. Republicans may hold the most power in the House right now, but the words she speaks, the fights she takes up, and the decisions Pelosi makes in 2013 could set the stage for a 2014 dogfight that places the Speaker gavel back in her hands. And if there’s one thing Nancy Pelosi has shown over the years, it’s that she isn’t a afraid to fight.
6. Hillary Clinton
Clinton is stepping away from the Secretary of State job but that doesn’t mean she should be forgotten in 2013. She has done a more than spectacular job as America’s top diplomat and that reputation is generating even more buzz about whether or not she will run for President in 2016. Just as I suspect that Republicans will start laying the groundwork for the 2016 Election next year, I suspect that Democrats are also going to do the same. That means we could get a clue or two about what Clinton wants to do by the end of the year.
7. John Kerry
The Senator from Massachusetts has long had his eye on being Secretary of State, and I suspect that’s the cabinet position he’ll get. Kerry has some mighty big shoes to fill and an awful lot of world problems to deal with, but he’s a foreign policy expert and, after dealing with Republican extremists over the last couple decades, negotiating with crazy and world leaders should be a walk in the park. Not only will it be intriguing to see how Kerry deals with growing tensions in the Middle East, it should be fun to see Scott Brown lose a bid for Kerry’s Senate seat, thus being defeated in liberal Massachusetts for the second time in a year.
8. John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee
The Governors of Colorado and Washington have a big challenge in their respective states right now. And it could have a major impact on the War On Drugs and how we prosecute it. In November, the voters in both states legalized marijuana, setting up a showdown between state and federal law. If the federal government backs down, both state governments will be responsible for regulating and taxing marijuana industries. If these ventures are profitable and bring in enough new tax revenue, other states could follow suit and legalize marijuana as well. New legal marijuana industries means more jobs, more revenue for the state, another health care option for patients, a lower the prison population, and a loss of power for the drug cartels. And it all hinges on how these states and their Democratic governors work things out with the feds over the next year.
9. Andrew Cuomo
The Governor of New York is still busy overseeing the cleanup of his state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but there is one major reason why he is on this list: in the wake of the hurricane, Cuomo publicly talked about climate change and the need for America to prepare for major storms that are now occurring every year. In particular, he wants to prepare New York for future disasters and that means completely overhauling the infrastructure to be both environmentally friendly and able to withstand weather disasters. This could mean building massive flood gates, raising city streets, burying electric lines, strengthening the subway system and sewer system, and going green. It’s not all going to happen in one year, but the initial decisions made in 2013 could eventually impact coastal cities around the nation. A governor who takes climate change seriously is worthy of watching.
10. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ginsburg is a reliable liberal on the Supreme Court, but that’s not why she makes the list. The truth is, she isn’t getting any younger and her health issues are of concern. With that said, there is a possibility that Ginsburg could retire or at least announce her intention to retire within the next year. That sets the stage for President Obama to appoint a third Justice to serve on the highest court in the land. The possibility of her doing so is not 100 percent and it may not even be 50 percent, but if it’s going to happen, it might as well occur while Democrats control the White House and the Senate. Who knows what the 2014 midterm election will bring? And even if it doesn’t happen this year, it’s still worth watching.
Democrats have many intelligent and capable individuals throughout state and federal government. The President has four more long years ahead, filled with domestic and foreign issues that need to be solved. On top of that, he may get a chance to appoint up to three Supreme Court Justices in that time span. In the Senate, Democrats have many new faces such as Elizabeth Warren who are determined to fight for the middle class and get things done on their behalf. Women and minorities have made Democrats more diverse, and thus a more powerful force in Washington, not to mention all of the nation’s Democratic governors, men and women who are taking on challenges that will impact and influence states in the future. Even though the new year hasn’t even begun, 2013 is looking like a big year for Democrats and another landmark year in politics.