And now, my predictions for 2018.
Really, predicting 2018 is a fool's errand. If there is one thing that the last two years have proven so far, it is that reality is capable of rapidly outpacing, and outweirding, our imaginations. From the Muslim ban to Trump's easily disproved lies to the collision of two neutron stars, there is a lot about the last year that has served to inspire and horrify like never before.
I could go the route of Angry Staff Officer
and take a satirical approach, but that's not what y'all have come to expect from me these last ... wow ... fifteen years. It's not what I
have come to expect of me. So, here we go:
- There will be a war in Eastern Europe.
- Housing prices will grow at their slowest rate since 2010.
- Democrats will win enough seats to control the US House and US Senate in 2019.
- Democrats will flip at least six (6) governor's seats and six (6) state legislatures in 2018.
- SCOTUS will rule in both Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone that excessive gerrymandering violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
- The Euroskeptic Right will win the March elections in Italy, further weakening the EU.
- The Racist Right will run out of steam while the Socialist Left gains momentum.
- The Chicago Cubs will, once more, return to postseason baseball.
- Oklahoma will win the College Football Bowl Series Championship.
Let's consider each of these predictions in turn.There will be a war in Eastern Europe.
A year ago I wrote:
The two forces that keep Pax Europa in the 21st Century are NATO and the EU. The election of Donald Trump and other far-right russophile nationalists, along with Russia’s recent overtures to Turkey, has weakened NATO; the victory of Brexit has weakened the EU. This gives belligerent powers an opening they haven’t had since the end of the Balkans Wars.
None of these conditions has changed. If anything, they have gotten worse, with Germany unable to form a government, Brexit still causing chaos in the UK, and the Euroskeptic Right gaining ground from the Netherlands to Austria. In the meantime, the Trump administration has utterly gutted the State Department, leaving the US with practically no diplomatic resources from which to draw.
If you asked me to put odds on the likelihood of this prediction coming true, I'd put them at 30%. That's more than I'd have put it at a year ago, and enough that I feel comfortable still making this prediction.Housing prices will grow at their slowest rate since 2010.
This is quite simply because the GOP tax plan has put a cap of $750K on the value of mortgages that come with an interest deduction. This makes borrowing to buy homes in expensive markets more costly, and puts a soft cap of on how much a home's value can appreciate. The consequences of this slowdown will mostly be felt by the middle class, for whom most of their net worth is typically in real estate.Democrats will win enough seats to control the US House and US Senate in 2019.Democrats will flip at least six (6) governor's seats and six (6) state legislatures in 2018.
Last year I said that the Virginia and New Jersey elections in 2017 would give us a sense of what 2018 would be like. The Democrats performed impressively in Virginia. More to the point, they ran a nearly perfect campaign in Alabama, which resulted in a stunning upset. This gives me the sense that, whatever their faults, the DNC seems to have figured out a magic formula that could lead to blowout wins in November 2018. It will require a lot of hard work (so get ready to make phone calls and knock on doors), and a lot of money (so get ready for a flood of fundraising emails). But if they can pull it off, the resulting wave could undo all the Republican gains of 2010 and 2014, and then some.SCOTUS will rule in both Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone that excessive gerrymandering violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
I think, based on the way Justice Kennedy reacted towards the GOP side in Gill v. Whitford
, that there are five votes to declare the Wisconsin map unconstitutional. My guess is that SCOTUS took Benisek v. Lamone
in order to give conservatives on the Court a booby prize -- that is, since the Republicans are going to lose Gill
, they can take comfort that the Democrats will also lose Benisek
. The Euroskeptic Right will win the March elections in Italy, further weakening the EU.
Just two days ago, Italy's President dissolved the legislature, which had, in typical Italian fashion, produced three Prime Ministers in five years. Right now the polls have the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement slightly ahead of the center-left Democrats. My guess is that the Five Star Movement will probably win enough seats to form a governing coalition with a cluster of center-right parties.The Racist Right will run out of steam in America, while the Socialist Left gains momentum.
As I've stated before, People are hungry for an alternative to the neoliberalism and globalism that has caused a lot of economic pain. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the anti-capitalist left along with it, those alternatives came primarily from the European New Right, particularly de Benoist.
For those who are not familiar with de Benoist, he is a French philosopher who has adapted the ideas of both far right philosophers (Evola) and far left philosophers (Gramsci) into a new vision of European society, one that is fundamentally ethnocentric. The object of his attacks are neoliberal capitalism, equality, American-style democracy, and, to a lesser extent, Christianity.
When de Benoist and his cronies got their start in the 1960s, they had interesting ideas, but few followers. On the other hand, the anti-capitalist, particularly socialist, left, had billions of followers, but (due in no small part to the intellectual stagnation that came with Communism) stale ideas.
Today, de Benoist and his ideas have philosophies that have been in development for fifty years, and they have numbers. This puts them in a good position to benefit from Euroskepticism, and that's been evident from some of the election results of 2017.
Meanwhile in America, the far right has (thanks to the intellectual bankruptcy of the alt-right and the neo-nazis) more numbers, but stale ideas. They also have terrified their opponents into action, not the least because the far right has gone so far as to murder their opponents. This has brought them a lot of negative media attention. The window of time in which it was socially acceptable to be part of the American far right has come and gone. On the other hand, it has never been socially unacceptable in the bohemian-bourgeoisie circles that dominate our culture to be socialist. And so, In reaction to the shock of the American far right, and in reaction to the Trump agenda, many on the center left have started to give socialism another look.
I think this next year will see the socialist left continue to grow in numbers, both in America and in Europe. Unfortunately, I do not see that they have developed the engaging ideas that can keep the movement going, except as a reaction against the far right. Nonetheless, for the next few years, the numbers of the socialist left will continue to grow.
If any Democratic Socialists are reading this, I would encourage them to at least try
to engage with de Benoist. They don't need to agree with him --- heavens forfend! --- but they do need to learn how to elevate their thinking to his level. They would also do well to remember Edward Witten's critique of the New Left from fifty years ago, and to address the flaws he found.
A critic might ask whether someone who started out a socialist, and engaged with (or was capable of engaging with
) de Benoist might no longer be a socialist. This is a fair question, and in truth, I think they would not be socialist if they could grasp de Benoist. I'm not so much concerned with whether socialists can save socialism, but whether they can come up with an alternative to neoliberalism and globalism that is something other than ethnocentrism.
The clock is ticking.The Chicago Cubs will, once more, return to postseason baseball.
The team that won the Cubs' first World Series since 1908 is still young, and still mostly intact. As an added bonus, they brought their most senior member back as a coach. This year they made it to the NLDS. I think they will repeat in 2018.Clemson will win the College Football Bowl Series Championship.
I used to be a big SEC fan. I have since come to the conclusion that the SEC is overrated. In particular, Alabama, who lost their final SEC game to Auburn, has no business being in this championship series. I think Clemson is going to ROFLstomp Alabama. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is paired against the other SEC team, Georgia. Georgia has more business being there than Alabama does, but Oklahoma is still the stronger team from the stronger conference.
That means that the championship game will be Oklahoma v. Clemson. In a match-up between number one and number two, the smart money is on number one.