EDITORIAL: Unfinished

New year begins with slate that cannot be wiped clean

We wish everyone the happiest and most productive New Year.

The changing of the calendar offers many people a chance to look back on past events and accomplishments, and look ahead to the days and months ahead. Many people see the new year as an opportunity to set new goals, or reset those that proved beyond our reach.

It’s a chance, in many ways, to wipe the slate clean. The start of a new decade can offer even more incentive to jettison old wants and blaze new trails.

This year, however, it appears harder to set aside the past and refocus ourselves on new goals. A lot of unfinished business faces us in 2020, business that can’t be ignored or left unresolved. It’s like the realization that once again, many of us will have to recommit ourselves to establishing healthier habits and better budgeting.

Unfortunately, much of the unfinished business requires our attention but isn’t our sole responsibility; we have to do our part to resolve the issues but also must rely on others to do their part.

Much of that unfinished business lies beyond our personal lives. The most obvious pending issue, of course, is the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Acquittal in the Senate is presumed and virtually assured, but the trial, and actions of those involved, will enable citizens to evaluate incumbent elected officials, from our local Congress members to the president himself, and make better-informed decisions in the spring primaries and fall general elections. Officials’ statements and behavior could reinforce our opinion of an official, or change our perception of the person completely.

Either way, it behooves us to pay attention to the trial, and commit ourselves to using the information when reviewing the ballots. Better voting is needed at a more local level, where the shameful behavior of some Rio Grande Valley officials continues. Elected officials ranging from a mayor to various school board members have been convicted or are awaiting adjudication on charges ranging from bribery to voter fraud to drunk driving. The cases beg voters to do more to learn about candidates before going to the polls.

The Valley once again will be under heavy scrutiny during the coming year, as the region remains the center of attention for many of the top legislative and campaign issues being debated. They include the contentious debate over immigration, including the treatment of Central American refugees who remain under detention under widely disparate conditions in the United States, or in tent cities on the Mexican side of the border. The situation begs for our advocacy, for improved conditions and faster resolution of their cases.

Advocacy would be a good word to define 2020. We applaud those who voice their opinion, at local commission meetings, in calls and messages to elected officials, and even to the public forum that’s provided on these pages.

America’s founders strongly believed that open debate, comparing different opinions on the issues, would give decision-makers a fuller range of ideas that would help them make the best decisions possible.

Let us resolve, therefore, to be more active during this new year, and work toward improvement — not only in our own lives, but in the world around us.