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January 24, 2012
I like to think of the day of the State of the Union as America's annual civic sabbath, a periodic opportunity to gather as a community and reflect on our progress. Unfortunately, this year's assessment won't be as positive as we'd like. Certainly 2012 is not 1863 or 1917 or 1941, but it's still hard to shake the overwhelming sense that we face urgent challenges and our political institutions might be too broken to address them. Despite the range of economic, fiscal, social, and environmental problems on our horizon, over the past year, nearly the only bills that Congress and the president have managed to pass have named post offices, shuffled public land ownership, or extended expiring (or better yet, already expired) statutes.