Juan Cole in Informed Comment:
5. Violent crime continues to decline in the United States, with violent crime and property crimes falling 6% in 2010, according to a recent FBI report. Murder, raper, robbery and other serious crimes have fallen to a 48-year low. Whatever the reason for the decline (which is country-wide, and, indeed, mirrored in Canada as well), it argues for repeal of those ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws that have filled up our prisons. The bad news: Americans say in opinion polls that they think crime is getting worse.
6. American democracy remains vital at the grass roots level, whether on the left or the right. The remarkable enthusiasm around the 2008 elections, the vitality of the 2010 congressional elections, the rise of the Tea Party and of Occupy Wall Street, student demonstrations and mobilizations for recalls and defeats of long-term incumbents– all of these developments point to a continued participatory democracy that is a good omen for the future.
7. American innovation and ingenuity remain strong in the face of challenges such as high petroleum prices and climate change from burning coal, gas and oil. Iowa now gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, and some close observers believe it could eventually go to 50% (as Denmark plans to do).
8. I know it seems as though it is a long way off, but it isn’t. India and Pakistan are taking serious steps to normalize their trade relations by the end of 2012. Anything that reduces tensions between the Asian giants is good for world peace (the US is a de facto ally of Pakistan and would likely get pulled in were relations to deteriorate).