Although of much of Missouri’s political life seems to belong to the realm of Southern Gothic, or alternatively to the world of Lewis’ The Jungle, there has been act and actors that give us hope for change. Following is my – entirely subjective – list of the events, groups or people who have helped make it all worthwhile in 2013:

1. Governor Jay Nixon: I know. Nixon’s also on my list of worsts, but this year he did manage to find a backbone many of us thought he had permanently mislaid when he picked up his veto pin and saved us from the excesses of radical conservative fantasists 29 times, a personal best. Many of these vetoes were overridden, but arguably the most important stood. One of those vetoes, that of the disastrous tax-cut-for-the-rich HB253 most likely withstood the override onslaught because Nixon went on the warpath to make sure it was sustained. Remember this when elections roll around again; even a conservadem like Nixon is better than a Republican.

2. The Missouri Budget Project(MBP): MBP offers independently funded, objective economic analysis of legislative and executive initiatives that have a budgetary impact – which is not to say that the MBP, as a member of a network of “fiscal policy organizations” that are coordinated by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, does not serve a progressive philosophy. It’s thanks to the MBP that citizen bloggers like me got the real scoop on the impact of last year’s tax bill and the costs of the failure to expand Medicaid, to name the two most prominent examples.  Republicans and conservatives are right that we need to think about costs – but in order to do so we  have to have accurate information that represents all aspects of the issue, hidden as well as obvious costs. Thanks to the MBP, we have a way to get that information and it made a big difference in 2013.