OUR VIEW: Tanned, rested and ready for 2013

As of press time, America is precariously perched at the edge of the mother of all fiscal cliffs. Lawmakers have reconvened in Washington, D.C., but the outlook for a long-term solution both sides of the aisle can agree on – or, more importantly, taxpayers can afford – appears slim.

The stack of end-of-the-year bills needing final approval is mounting. The Farm Bill, the Violence Against Women Act and a number of other vital measures are stuck in the political logjam.

At this moment, we’re reminded of a T-shirt circulating around the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans. “He’s Tan, Rested and Ready,” the slogan read. Above the slogan was a smiling Richard M. Nixon. For young Republicans, it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the disgraced president who was living out his days in San Clemente, Calif., soaking in the sun on the golf course. But it was a reminder that even in the most uncertain of times, Americans can find something to smile about.

Our nation has seen some hopeful and dark days of late. Voters returned President Barack Obama to office after a drawn-out political season. We rallied behind our neighbors to the northeast when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New Jersey shoreline – an all too familiar scene for those of us who call south Louisiana home. We were shocked to learn a gunman fired rounds of bullets into a packed theater in Aurora, Colo., during a showing of the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. And we cried 11 days before Christmas when another broken gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and slaughtered 26 people – 20 of them innocent children – before turning the gun on himself.

Over the course of the year, conversations focused on celebrities and common people whose actions catapulted them into the spotlight. There was Whitney Houston, who was found dead in a hotel bathtub after an apparent drug overdose; George Zimmerman, who is charged with shooting Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Florida teen whom Zimmerman claims attacked him; and Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, who was found guilty of sexually abusing young boys.

We also obsessed over technology, racing to buy the next iProduct. And we lined up again when the Mega Millions jackpot topped $656 million, only to return to our day jobs after we discovered we weren’t among the three winning ticket holders. We survived Honey Boo Boo, “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Gangnam Style” and lived to tell.

2012 is in the history books and it’s on to bigger and brighter conquests in 2013.

Our nation faces serious challenges – fiscal and social issues. It’s time to roll up our sleeves, set aside our differences and have some serious discussions about how our country should best be run. Together, we can do it. After all, we’re tanned, rested and ready.