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The year just concluded is one of those rare occasions which gives us cause to believe that better times surely lie ahead, because the year just past couldn’t have been any worse.

But as David Dunn-Rankin, the publisher to whom we sold our newspaper group 14 years ago pointed out in his column last week, there are many people who rose to the occasion, not just once but every day.

In his words, “I am grateful to the hundreds of millions of Americans who showed the best side of America.”

Among them he listed health care workers who put themselves in harm’s way each day to care for the sick; teachers who put their own health at risk to continue meeting the needs of their students; and employees in countless fields who choose to report to work instead of hunkering down in self-imposed isolation.

His point is well taken.

So perhaps it would be fairer to say that 2020 was not the worst year we have known; it was the most difficult.

I find no basis to speak as kindly about our leaders in Congress and the White House.

In a year when the nation was in dire need of leadership, what it got was political theater.

Each party says the other party is at fault.

Congress and the White House each say the other is responsible for the morass in which the federal government is mired.

There is plenty of blame to go around for all participants.

With President Trump, there is no middle ground; you either love him or hate him.

With political parties in Congress, there is no search for compromise. Each side is more intent on winning than on serving the nation.

Politicians of each party vote in near unanimity on every issue according to the dictates of their party leaders.

I sometimes wonder why we don’t leave government up to the president, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate majority leader. Send the 500-plus other members of Congress home (without pay) and use their salaries and benefits to meet the needs of their constituents.

Among the few ways in which Congress has shown interest in helping people who are struggling to make ends meet is with the cash hand-outs and bans on evictions and foreclosures.

That said, I question how a person making up to $75,000 a year can qualify as needy, and how much an additional $600 is going to help.

I understand how compassionate it is to declare a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, but I don’t understand how landlords and mortgage companies are expected to remain in business with no revenue coming in from their properties.

It remains to be seen if a new president who campaigned on a pledge to negotiate with Congress and to try to meet the needs of all who need help from government, not just those who voted for him, can bring about real improvement in our federal government.

Can Biden achieve his promise?

In 2020, 81.2 million voters said he could, 74.2 million said he couldn’t.

In today’s political climate, that is less than a sure thing.

(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He generally comes down on the side of less reliance on government and more on individual initiative. However, he believes that in today’s continuing crisis, an expanded role for government is appropriate ... if it is handled in the right way.)