Each year in January I try to look both backward and forward to see what has been accomplished and what can be anticipated for the new-year. It is kind of an exercise in New Year’s resolutions, but not quiet.

This marks the ninth year I have written this column. It runs in the local newspaper here in South Carolina and has, in past years, run in the Scripps online newspapers. GateHouse Media picked the column up in 2012 and it has been offered to their newspapers over a 29-state coverage area for almost four years now.

Election years are great writing years for newspaper columnists. And, 2016 will not be an exception. However, the election process has changed over the past sixty years. It is almost ironic to hear the media talking with concern about the possibility of a “brokered” Republican Convention this year, considering that all political conventions were brokered before 1960. Another change is that we seem to be hardly out of one election year before another one starts. In the recent past the 2016 presidential sweepstakes began even before the 2014 mid-term elections were in the books.

Can anyone remember when the National Presidential Campaigns began after the conventions in July-August of an election year and ran for only two and a half months until the first Tuesday in November? And, there was a time when Presidential candidates did not campaign at all. They stayed home and let the political parties handle the campaigns. Abraham Lincoln wrote Hannibal Hamlin, the successful Vice Presidential candidate in 1860, a letter following his election suggesting that “since they were going to be working together perhaps it would be prudent if they could meet.” Today, we live in a very different time.

It is always exciting to hear new ideas presented by the presidential candidates but depressing to witness some of the negatives thrown at competitors. In the worst cases it seems that way more time is spent trashing opponents than presenting new approaches to solve the nation’s problems. It is a sad reflection on us, the voting public, that negative campaigning seems to work. It is always my hope that we will put an optimist with a plan in the White House and not one whose primary strength is tearing down their opponents. Could the always optimistic Ronald Reagan be elected in 2016?

In future columns look for the criteria I will use to choose who I will vote for in the fall of 2016. And, after a firm resolve not to write anything on the current Republican front runner, I have changed my mind. The chance of his winning the Republican nomination is more than I can tolerate. Have you heard the joke about the Canadians building a fence along our northern border to keep out Americans who are intent on leaving the country if the two nominees for President are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? I’m afraid it may not be a joke.

As many of you know, I have spent most of my life involved in academic circles, teaching and serving as President of colleges. Today, I write. The column is a major weekly endeavor for me but I have now finished my sixth book, “The Wounds of War,” which is a sequel to the novel, “Journey to Gettysburg,” published in January of 2015. “Journey” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Other books that might be of interest include “Facts and Opinions on the Issues of our Time” and “The World as it was When Jesus Came.” The latter should be published in late 2016.

Next week I promise to return to my usual national issues and political commentary approach to column writing. I just couldn’t resist this opportunity to look backward and forward as we enter another new year. Please accept my most sincere wish to each of you that you have a very happy and blessed new year.

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.