When 2015 started, Mark Richt was the head football coach at The University of Georgia with a stable of running backs who were the envy of college ball programs all over the country. As 2016 begins, one of Georgia’s winningest coaches has now moved on to the University of Miami and Georgia alumnus Kirby Smart, the defensive coordinator of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, has taken over the reins bolstered by an incoming freshman superstar and dreams of a healthy, disciplined football team.
Things also took a turn across town. As 2015 began, Georgia Tech was polishing off an unbelievable season after beating the Bulldogs in Athens and ending with a Capitol One Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State. As 2016 begins, Georgia Tech is trying to recover from an embarrassing 3-9 season, keeping the same head football coach but adding much more talent.
When 2015 began, neither Democrats nor Republicans had much in the way of rules to guide their respective nomination processes for the presidential election. Yet, as 2016 begins, the Democrats have a clearly designed system to protect their presumptive nominee while Republicans continue to tinker with the rules as they try to figure out how best to drive a herd of bullish candidates toward a single unifying nominee.
When 2015 started, the Republican Party field included close to 20 aspirants for the White House including senators, governors, business people, and a neurosurgeon. The field included candidates from every region of the country and a diversity of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender that had never existed before on the national political stage of either political party.
Most insiders considered Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to have the inside track toward the nomination with a national debate scheduled in his backyard, a winner-take-all primary during March, and an RNC Chair hailing from his home state. Donald Trump was not even in the race, and many believed that, like the last presidential election, he would be all talk and no action when it came down to actually becoming a candidate.
Yet, as 2016 begins, Donald Trump has been a lot of talk, but he has also been a lot of action. To date, with the country’s celebrity preoccupation fueled by a media eager for viewers and readers, Donald Trump has dominated the GOP nomination process. Governors Walker, and Jindal, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, are no longer even in the race. And pre-election-cycle favorite former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lags far back in the pack.
When 2015 started, Ohio Congressman John Boehner was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. For Boehner, the Speakership had been a tumultuous ride with constant threats of mutiny among conservative GOP caucus members. His vulnerability came from the unique rules associated with the election of the Speaker as opposed to the election of caucus officers.
To be Speaker, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes of the full House, not just the majority caucus. With members of the opposition party certain to vote against the Speaker, it only took a handful of Republicans to topple the Boehner Speakership. Rather than face outright removal, Speaker Boehner chose Pope Francis’ visit to the Congress as the time to step aside.
And so, as 2016 begins, the Congress has a new Speaker — Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the GOP nominee for vice president in 2012. Now sporting a beard, he hopes to put a new face on the Republican-controlled Congress during this all-important election year.
When 2015 started, many states had banned same-sex marriage. Indeed, it had become one of the most controversial issues on the American political scene. In some cases, it was dealt with by state constitutions, in others by legislatures.
And, in a few states, individual voters had addressed the issue on the ballot. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. As 2016 begins, same-sex couples can legally marry anywhere in the United States as a result of the Court’s 5-4 June 26, 2015 ruling.
When 2015 started, President Barack Obama’s top priority was climate change while most voters remained focused on a struggling recovery which left many unemployed or underemployed.
But, throughout the year, it was terrorists and their attacks in Paris and on U.S. soil that shifted the focus to national security at home and abroad. As 2016 begins, President Obama did get his historic climate change pact. And, unfortunately, the economy continues to struggle along at an anemic pace as terrorists busily plan their next attack.
Yet, while all of these machinations occurred this year throughout the United States and around the world, 2015 began with Georgia being proclaimed (again) as the number-one state in the nation to do business.
Well, 2016 begins for Georgia just like the last one — with Georgia again being declared as the number-one place in the country to do business. Somehow, while the world seems to be falling apart, Georgia appears to be doing just fine.