2011 is coming to a close and for many, Jan. 1, 2012, cannot come soon enough. 2011 has been a difficult year on so many fronts. We have lost great icons and buried too many too young. We have seen war take countless lives and seen natural disasters continue to wreak havoc on the world.

That being said, the one thing that 2011 did bring that will leave a legacy is the rebirth of the protest movement.

From the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the Occupy movement at home and in Europe, there has been a resurgence of protest and, with it, hope. People are beginning to find their own power and their own voices again. It has been so long since real change has come via the power of protest that many have doubted such people power could still work in parts of the modern world.

Young and old have come together to try to change the old paradigm. No longer are the disenfranchised sitting on the sidelines; they are standing tall and joining together to lead the marches that say: “We won’t take it any more,” “This is our country and it needs to represent us-all of us.”

With this resurgence of the power of the vote, voice and feet we have seen, from east to west and in some places in the middle, unions becoming the catalyst once more for change. They are fighting for the working men and women of this country, saying that they are a core part of the 99 percent.

So what does 2012 have in store?

We know there will be an election. The Republican primaries are starting just days after the New Year begins. The candidates, one of whom will eventually have to go up against President Barack Obama, are in an all-out war against each other to represent their party in the presidential election.

But as that fight goes on between the Republican candidates, we also see the spectacle of infighting within the party between the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and his henchman Eric Cantor. We can depend on Boehner and Cantor to fiercely resist any change or chance for real opportunity for working people, and those facing lingering economic hardship due to the great recession.

But the reactionary actions of the conservative Republicans are starting to have unintended consequences for the right. More and more Americans are feeling that those folks are not looking out for our collective interests.

And as 2012 rolls in, things may get really interesting.

As the election season closes in, perhaps we will see the further growth and use of protest as a vehicle for change. America is still America, and with that we know that an American dream is still possible. Let’s hope that 2012 brings that dream and its best values back into focus.

Happy New Year and God bless!