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2017: The Preview

by bdietrich on October 20, 2016

After three presidential debates, the polls show Hillary Clinton the likely next president. I’m relieved, but I can’t pretend the arguing has created a national consensus. Both candidates are about as popular as a 45-minute drugstore wait for a flu shot from a crochet needle.

So after a grisly political year (has it only been a year and not, like, eternity?) what next? Having consulted the entrails of chickens and the alignment of stars, let me soothsay:

  • The distrust of Clinton will perversely help her initially by setting low expectations. We’ve become unhappily accustomed to gridlock, acrimony, and politicians who put party above country. When Clinton accomplishes something – and she will – the surprise and relief may result in her getting more credit than President Obama, a charismatic speaker who was initially expected to walk on water.
  • The unblemished winner of 2016 is Michelle Obama and her soaring speeches. At the very least she’s improved her chances of a lucrative book deal. More intriguingly, she may be the next first lady to run for something, should she so choose.
  • If Democrats unexpectedly win the House of Representatives the progressive wing will overreach and lose it again in two years. Yes, progress progresses, but we’re still a moderate country at our wildest. And while a Congressional majority would make all kinds of legislating possible, there’s something to be said for having a strong opposition to blame at election time. Both extremes, liberal and conservative, will enjoy beating up on Speaker Paul Ryan.
  • The Trump brand is broken and Trump’s hope of shoring it up through an alpha male run for the presidency has backfired. His rants have made him abhorrent to the upper class he sells to. Bookings in Trump hotels were already plunging before he became embroiled in catastrophic scandal, and who wants to license his name now? Trump is undergoing a tax audit. Some analysts estimate his holdings have declined by $800 million in just two years. He’s embroiled in lawsuits and is a master of bankruptcy. Age 70 is a tough time to start over. Don’t be surprised if the meltdown continues.
  • But wait, won’t his thirty million die-hard followers still want Trump baseball caps? No. America doesn’t like losers. Prominent Trumpkins will desert like rats from a sinking ship. Ordinary conservatives will want a new champion, rather than form a third party around a defeated one. Donald, we hardly knew ye.
  • Conservatism will not go away, nor will animus toward the Clintons. It will probably be a bitter four years. Rather than adapt to America’s rapidly changing demographics and progressive leanings on issues like abortion and gun control, many Republicans will argue that Trump wasn’t Republican enough, or conservative enough. The GOP will remain split between those who want to widen and those who want to purify. Buckle up for the Nov. 9 civil war.
  • So is it RIP for the GOP? Nope. No matter how good a president Hillary Clinton is, there will be plenty of opposition to organize around in four years, and forming a third party instead would only cement Democrat dominance. History is rife with rebounds. Goldwater’s defeat was followed by Nixon’s victory, who was eventually followed by Carter, who was defeated by Reagan, and so on. Both parties have bounced back many times. It’s the moderating beauty of the American system.
  • Trump’s plan to form his own television network will face steep obstacles. He’s not lovable like Oprah, and even his most avid followers would quickly become bored with a propaganda channel. Trump would need his network to either be uniquely informative – which means hiring lots of expensive people to gather and deliver news in a way persuasively better to conservatives than Fox News – or entertaining enough to compete with the scores of other cable channels already out there. Radio talk shows are cheap to produce, but scripted and reality TV is not. Are investors going to bet Trump can pull it off? No.
  • Barack Obama is going to be viewed with surprising nostalgia in a few years, even by those who dislike him now. Yes, the economy is only tepid in some areas, but he’s enjoyed several years of steady job growth, has kept ground combat to a minimum, and has run a mostly scandal-free Administration with an admirable family. There’s nothing like a new war or recession to make you appreciate the LAST Oval Office resident.
  • One last prediction. If Donald Trump teaches us anything, it’s that the totally unexpected always erupts. Which gives predictions like these the shelf life of wilted lettuce.
  • And keeps prognosticators endlessly employed.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

J L Anderson October 20, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Great article. Keep on keeping on.


Patrick O'Connor March 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm

They say hindsight is 20-20 but I’m guessing you’re still blind. That said, I love your books! Keep ‘em coming.


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