For many political watchers, 2013 will be remembered as the year of the disastrous government shutdown and the even more disastrous Obamacare rollout. But the shutdown came and went, arguably leaving the GOP's more mature leaders in firmer control of their troops and disgracing the shutdown squad. Obamacare was hobbled and in turn hobbled the Democrats, but the final reckoning comes this year as Democrats decide whether to jettison the individual mandate and voters decide whether to jettison the Democrats who brought us Obamacare.
However, two developments were more lasting and significant than either of these, and - unlike the ills of the shutdown and Obamacare - will be virtually impossible to reverse.
On the domestic front, gay marriage reached a tipping point. The Supreme Court in two somewhat muddled decisions struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and revived gay marriage in California. While the reasoning was a mishmash between states rights and the 14th Amendment, the momentum against limits on marriage is irreversible. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage. Popular opinion has shifted decisively in favor of gay marriage. Whatever one's views, this is a dramatic shift in public morals and in an institution that was considered inviolate for centuries, and the trend will not reverse itself.