When it comes to health care, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be measured in the millions. That's how many people were expected to sign up for insurance to begin on Jan. 1.
But for both supporters and opponents of the law, there's one number that sticks out above all others. Six. That's how many people actually managed to enroll through the federal HealthCare.gov website the first day it opened, Oct. 1.
At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.
"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."
Utah's surprise decision to legalize same-sex marriage caps a landmark year for gay rights. The last 12 months saw a huge string of victories, from state legislatures, to Congress, to the Supreme Court.
Our series on the future continues with a discussion about education. Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep talks to Linda Darling-Hammond, a former adviser to President Obama, who is dismayed to see his administration build on the high-stakes testing requirements introduced by the Bush administration.
For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.
For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.
It's easy to forget that the tea party movement is still less than 5 years old. Its successes include the 2010 midterm elections, when it helped the GOP win back the U.S. House.
It was once again a noisy and resurgent player in American politics in 2013. But that doesn't mean it was a year of victories: The movement's campaign to repeal Obamacare failed, and public approval hit near-record lows after the tea party forced a partial government shutdown. Even tea party events aren't as large as they once were.
The close of 2013 has been marked by a vigorous national debate over income inequality, the plight of low-wage workers in America and the effect of boosting mandatory minimum wages.
The debate was magnified when Wal-Mart got unwanted attention for a store-based holiday food drive for its own needy workers, and when President Obama announced his support for legislation that would raise the national minimum hourly wage of $7.25 for the first time since 2007.