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Top 10 Political Stories of the Decade

The Aughties? The Ohs? Whatever you call them, the years 2000 through 2009 were eventful ones. Marc Cooper of the USC Annenberg School recalls the media moments that captured our attention: September 11, Obama’s election, the expansion of presidential power...

The Aughties? The Ohs? Whatever you call them, the years 2000 through 2009 were eventful ones. Marc Cooper of the USC Annenberg School recalls the media moments that captured our attention: September 11, Obama’s election, the expansion of presidential power…

1. The unconventional election process of 2000. The drawn-out match between George W. Bush and Al Gore revealed an antiquated and unreliable electoral system.

2. The attack on the Twin Towers, September 11, 2001. It didn’t change the world as we knew it, but it reshaped global politics.

3. The invasion of Afghanistan, 2001. We are still dealing with its consequences almost nine years later.

4. The invasion of Iraq, 2003. The first purely “preemptive war” in recent American history, based on deliberately exaggerated — if not nonexistent — evidence.

5. The introduction of torture techniques as official American policy. Perhaps no single policy has so besmirched the global image of the United States.

6. The unprecedented expansion of executive power. The Bush-Cheney administration offered little regard for constitutional norms in granting itself extra-judicial powers.

7. Hurricane Katrina. It not only devastated New Orleans, but also washed away a two-decade-old governing conservative consensus, by revealing the gross ineptitude of the heirs of Reaganism.

8. The election of Barack Obama. The election of an African American as president was, in itself, historic. The election also heralded a profound demographic shift in the electorate, with implications of a long-lasting political realignment.

9. The global financial crisis of 2008-2009. If the election of Obama signaled the end of the Reagan Era in politics, the crash of 2008 equally represented the crisis of the free market economic consensus. The conventional wisdom of the previous 30 years evaporated along with Lehman Bros.

10. The media revolution. The death rattle of legacy media and the emergence of new social media opened the doors for a mass democratization of information production.

Marc Cooper, director of Annenberg Digital News and lecturer at the USC Annenberg School, is an expert on political journalism and new media.

 

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