In many ways, the first decade of the 21st century was a major leap forward and a giant step backward. It was marked by major advancements in technology and science, which affecting everything from medicine to warfare. It was a troubled decade. There was horror and disbelief, heroism and bravery, a collective sense of loss, and shock and awe. There were rising flood-waters and water plane-landings. There were rising stars and fallen heroes. There were so many stories, and no way to list them all. But you can help. Use the link at the bottom of the page. Tell us what we missed. What are your top stories of the decade?
10. Rise of the Social Media (2005-2006)
About midway through the decade, web sites began to emerge that would change the face of business, relationships, politics, and every other kind of human interaction. Sites like facebook, Twitter and Myspace creeped into American culture in small degress before finally taking it by storm in 2009. These sites, which would mark the rise of the social media, offered people a way to reach out to old friends and find new ones of like mind. Conservatives caught on to the concept quickly and by 2009, social media sites served as headquarters for political protests and events, as well as a place to plead for causes and call to action. More importantly, however, social media is the flagship that will take politics into the next decade.
9. Election of Barack Obama (2008)
By 2008, the writing on the wall was evident. President George W. Bush was unpopular thanks to the seemingly endless war in Iraq, a devastated housing market and just as the campaign for president was heating up, Wall Street imploded. This was fertile ground for an inexperienced Democratic Senator from Illinois, who most people had never heard of five years earlier. Smooth, enigmatic and good-looking, he presented a stark contrast to Republican nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain. The Election of Barack Obama redefined the American political process and unveiled a heavy liberal bias in the media. The only positive news for conservatives in 2008 was the emergence of a new conservative star: McCain's running-mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
8. Abu Ghraib (2004)
Perhaps the lowest moment of the Iraq war came on Jan. 16, 2004, when US military officials announced that the defense department was conducting an investigation into reports of abuse and torture of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Just over a month later, the US Army had suspended 17 soldiers and a month after that, charges were filed against six of them. Not until April, however, did Americans get their first look at images depicting American soldiers degrading and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, when the news program "60 Minutes" aired the photographs. The images were as appalling to conservatives as anyone else, but condemnations from the right were not enough. Conservatives soon began to be blamed for the abuse.
7. Record-Setting Fuel Prices (2008)
By March 2008, record-setting fuel prices had put the nation into a panic. Before the crises was finally resolved in late 2008, fuel prices had exceeded $5 a gallon in some places, and the national average had hit a new record high of $4.10 a gallon for regular unleaded. This caused considerable backlash against Democrats who opposed permitting more oil refineries stateside to lower prices and reduce US dependence on foreign oil markets. In July, the price of crude oil hit an all-time high of $147 a barrel. By the end of the year, the price fell to below $40 a barrel. Although many Americans had forgotten about the summer crisis by then, conservatives continue to call for an end to America's reliance on foreign oil markets.
The $787 billion Stimulus Package passed by Congress on Feb. 13, and signed into law by the president on Valentines Day 2009, sent a shock wave through middle America and ignited a backlash among conservatives that continues to resonate today. While the election of Barack Obama united conservatives, it was the stimulus package, a.k.a. "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," that spurred them to action. In March, Tea Party protests began breaking out all over the country. Not long after the legislation's passage in February, however, Democrats took to the airwaves, warning the American people not to expect too much too soon since the bulk of the spending plan doesn't kick in until just before the 2012 general election.
5. Florida Ballot Recount (2000)
In the days and weeks following the presidential election on Nov. 7, 2000, a Florida ballot recount was underway, as voting officials frantically tried to determine who won, Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore. The race was so close that many national news outlets had to retract earlier reports naming Bush the winner. On Dec. 12, however, the US Supreme Court put an end to the recount, forcing the state to name Bush the winner. Bush would prove to be a controversial president, even among conservatives. Social conservatives who embraced his "compassionate conservative" platform saw him him abandon it less than a year into his presidency. Fiscal conservatives watched in horror as he expanded government in unprecedented ways.
After nearly a decade of simmering, the temperature for a meltdown in the housing market finally reached its peak. A number of factors contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, including weak government oversight, heavy debt loads for banks and obscene financial incentives for real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Suddenly, in 2007 the high-risk loans issued over the past 10 years began to fail all at once. By the end of the year, housing prices had fallen nearly 20 percent from their all-time high in 2006 and Wall Street was decimated by more than $8 trillion losses from retirement, pension and investment assets. The impact of the collapse affected every area of the economy and ushered in the Age of the Bailout.
3. Hurricane Katrina (2005)
Hurricane Katrina and President Bush's colossal mishandling of the rescue and recovery effort for its victims was perhaps the lowest point for conservatives since the terror attacks of 9/11. Lost in the condemnation of the president were the thousands of conservatives who went to New Orleans and other areas of Louisiana and Mississippi to help rebuild. Conservatives nonetheless bore the brunt of liberal ire, even when some claimed the poor response was part of a racial conspiracy, rather than a case of simple ineffective governance. Katrina remained a major liberal issue until the day Bush left office. President Obama, meanwhile, has been given a pass on Katrina ... even after failing to include 2009 stimulus money for storm-ravaged areas.
2. Invasion of Iraq (2003)
Terror was on the minds of everyone in America following the attacks of 9/11, and many people who had previously believed such carnage impossible, now were forced to wonder just how bad it could get. The thought of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in the hands of someone like Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein was therefore cause for considerable alarm. In March 2003, the US began an invasion of Iraq after Hussein repeatedly refused to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. In just two weeks, Baghdad fell, but the war would go on for another six years as Islamic insurgents poured into Iraq. In the US, conservatives were blamed for launching the attack, despite the nearly universal bipartisan decision to go to war. No WMDs were ever found.
1. The Terror Attacks of 9/11 (2001)
No story in the 21st century -- or perhaps all of American history -- is more tragic or profound than the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Just before 9 a.m., 19 Islamic terrorists commandeered four American airliners and used them as suicide missiles. Two jets were flown into the two tallest buildings on the East Coast, one was flown into the outer rings of the Pentagon and one crashed in rural western Pennsylvania. When the smoke cleared, the World Trade Center was destroyed, the Pentagon was severely damaged and 2,976 people were dead, 2,957 of whom were innocent civilians. For several weeks following the attacks, wedge issues were cast aside and Americans came together as unified citizens. Conservatives will never forget.