A Few Predictions of My Own
by Andrew Parker
Happy New Year all you lovely readers. I feel compelled to share my own thoughts on what might happen in 2012. With so much social, political and economic upheaval in 2011, it is sure to continue to be a highly fluid and volatile year. So here it goes:
1. If Mitt Romney becomes the nominee, he will be dealing with a third conservative insurgent candidate.
It does seem as though Romney has been somewhat untouched by the attacks of his presidential primary rivals. However, the fact that he does not seem to exceed ~25% in the polls (excluding New Hampshire) indicates to me that he will have an extremely difficult time consolidating his base of support. When the lagging Bachmanns and Perrys of the race eventually withdraw, it is hard to see their conservative Evangelical supporters coming around to him. This is due in part to their perception of his Mormon faith and his fairly moderate record. And who knows if Bachmann will decide to run on her own Tea Party ticket? The moderate John McCain avoided this problem in 2008 only because the intransigently principled Tea Party did not yet exist, and the whole notion of promoting “pure” conservatives was not obsessively en vogue. Romney’s “inevitable” candidacy is on weak footing.
2. The Arab Spring marches on.
In 2011, democratic revolutions ousted 4 Middle Eastern dictators (Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gadhafi and Saleh) and continue to be an existential threat to other despotic rulers. This year I expect the movement to spread to other areas of the world. Indeed, we have already seen mass protests over electoral fraud in Russia and a few miniature revolts in Chinese villages, not to mention the Occupy Wall Street movement. Even with devastating and heavy-handed responses by security forces (I see you there, UC Davis), these democratic and social-justice-based movements will continue.
3. Obama is going to win a second term.
Though this president has been a somewhat misguided, mediocre and ineffective leader, even before he lost the Democratic majority in the House, there are a few bright spots in his record that, combined with a fractious Republican electorate, will probably deliver him a second term. In foreign policy, he has overseen the deaths of Bin Laden and Gadhafi, and has fulfilled his campaign promise to end the War in Iraq. Though economic recovery has been dreadfully slow since the recession, it is headed in a positive direction, and that may be enough to allay some criticisms from his electoral opponent(s). Obama should be wary of actions that might alienate his supporters however. His recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act and the potential passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act have many terrified of what powers the government is asserting, and this could cost him dearly on Election Day.
4. Don’t believe the hype! The world has at least 50 more years to go.
I am not one for ridiculous Maya-Christian end times rapture theories. I’m pretty sure that the Mayan calendar doesn’t even explicitly say the world would end, but rather a bunch of crazies just interpret it that way. That said, a lot of things are going on that do threaten existence as we know it. Natural disasters are nothing new. But as demonstrated by the earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima reactor explosion of 2011 that killed many thousands of people, they always have the potential for complete disaster. Our reliance on nonrenewable resources and nuclear power and the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles continues to be an existential threat to humanity.
I think something is wrong when on January 2nd in New England, it is 50 degrees out and there has been no snow since October. Climate change is a creeping effect, which sadly has strengthened claims that it is not real. No, the ice caps will not melt and the seas will not rise tomorrow or even this year. But some places will be seeing a tremendous impact in the near future. Even slight changes in climactic conditions threaten our agricultural supplies. Imagine 2011’s Texas drought and wildfire epidemic striking the grain- and produce-growing areas of the United States. It doesn’t seem so implausible. Climate change skeptics may have nothing to eat but their words during a prolonged famine.
Overall, we live in a scary and turbulent world, but that is no reason to live in fear and hysteria. I would encourage people in 2012 to hold their heads high and work to affect positive change however they can. This is the only way to 2013 after all!