After proving on this blog once again that prediction can be a sucker's game, I finished up my wandering around central Florida (where I was interviewing people on their attitudes about voting and voter suppression) and made a short trip to Atlanta. I was talking to people about prostitution, sexism and feminism, but also walked in the city's huge and inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. march. This and other research (on race and governance; fuel efficiency; economic security; ageism) kept me busy this fall and winter - circulating from Carbondale, Pennsylvania to Buckley, Washington; Pueblo, Colorado to Apopka, Florida; San Francisco to Chicago; Hickory, North Carolina to Chula Vista, California.
None of that enabled me to predict the ascension of Donald Trump, however. I had felt the anger and contempt out there for the corrupted leadership of this country, and despair that the political class wanted to offer us nothing but more of the same. But I thought the populace was still too conservative to elect such a transparent charlatan to tip over the apple cart. I fully expected Trump to fail, but to pave the way for a less flawed populist.
But here we are, with a pop-cultural punchline as our head of state and a radical Republican party with few if any of the traditional checks upon it. Their first project - how to get away with stripping 20-30 million people of their health insurance in order to give the wealthy a tax cut - will tell us much about the type of republic we now live in.
But I promised predictions.
So, for that annual exercise in humility I will go out on a limb and predict a few specifics:
- There will be a crackdown after Black Lives Matter is classified as a terrorist organization.
- There will be an attempted crackdown against McClatchy News, which will mostly backfire, giving investigative journalism a much-needed shot in the arm.
- 2017 will turn out to be second hottest year on record, right behind 2016.
- The Republican leadership will allow Democrats (and a few Republicans) to impeach Donald Trump on charges of corruption and self-dealing, but he is not removed from office.
- Serious unrest in Turkey enables Russia to intervene militarily.
- The real estate market of south Florida collapses due to the threat of sea level rise.
- Overtly political songs begin to surface more in popular music - but not on the radio.
- Thousands of people will be poisoned by water contaminated by fracking.
- Brazil's government falls in a coup d'etat.
- For my tenth prediction, I might as well recycle the one from last year that proved most prescient:
- Americans won't take back their democracy from the wealthy interests that have hijacked it; and corporations will continue to write regulations to suit themselves.
- Assault weapons will remain legal despite more mass shootings.
- Militarization of police forces, systematic use of homicide and excessive force, as well as officers' de facto immunity from prosecution will continue unabated despite the mounting financial and social costs.
- We will not develop a constructive or effective plan for dealing with Islamic fundamentalism.