Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fearless Predictions for 2012

With each new year, I like to make predictions about what will happen.  I am often wrong, but it's fun to speculate nonetheless.  Here's what I predicted on my old blog last year:

"1. Republicans will lose their election momentum.
It looks like they peaked too soon. While I am sure we can expect all kinds of brazen craziness and frivolous investigations into "scandals," by House Republicans, now that they have a little power, they actually have to govern again. Continuing the bomb throwing won't work, as they should have learned from the 90s, when Newt Gingrich's radicalism so turned off the electorate that it saved Bill Clinton's ass. When GOPers tried to deny health benefits to 9/11 first responders, that was already a bridge too far. The public liked the legislative push made in the lame duck session; the GOP might actually be aware that it has to actually do its job in Congress if it wants to stay there.
2. More austerity for the humanities.
The lack of federal for the states, the continuing economic nightmare, and the corporate leadership of universities, which value football teams over philosophy and foreign languages, will mean even more hardship for academia, especially in the humanities. If we haven't yet reached the breaking point, 2011 might be it. As a new study released today shows, there was a decline of 29.4% in the number of jobs for historians this year, on top of 23.8% last year. Or to put it in starker terms: 569 jobs this year compared to 989 new PhDs in 2009. (More on this subject to come.)
3. Facebook decline.
The fact that so many parents now use it (a total turn off for the youth) combined with growing privacy concerns and the fact that nothing Net related lasts, means that Facebook may still grow, but will start losing ground to other social networking sites. The news today of Facebook's hints that it might soon go public reminded me of nothing less of the AOL-Time Warner merger of the 1990s. Pride goeth before the fall."
I would say that these predictions are accurate for the most part, especially #1.  That said, I didn't go out on a limb with these statements.  This year I will try to be a little riskier.  Without further ado, here are my predictions, which are political in nature this time due to it being an election year.

1.  Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination.  Despite the protestations of the Republican party's base, Mittens seems to have survived assaults from his rivals and put himself on a much stronger footing than before.  Case in point: he wasn't supposed to win in Iowa, and it looks pretty likely that he will carry it.  All of the members of the Anyone But Romney brigade have proven themselves to be morons (Perry and Bachmann), crackpots (Paul and Bachmann), morally suspect (Cain and Gingrich), too moderate for contemporary GOP wingnut tastes (Huntsman), or not experienced or substantial enough to be taken seriously (Santorum, despite his recent "surge.")

2.  Chris Christie will be Romney's VP choice.  The GOP will win the South, apart from maybe Virginia or North Carolina, and the plains and mountain west besides Colorado and New Mexico, no matter who they run as their veep.  They need to peel off states in the Midwest and Northeast to be able to win.  Christie gives that opportunity, and his brash, bullying, biggest asshole in the room personality will allow him to add some flair and charisma to Roboromney, and give him a valuable attack dog who can spew  venom while Mitt stays "presidential" above the fray.  (Even when calling on Iowans to vote for Romney, Christie could not help threatening them with "Jersey style" vengeance if they did not obey.  He might have been joking, but it was a joke that reveals a lot about his character.)

3.  President Obama's supposedly "un-American" nature will be a major point of Republican attack.  This is the first presidential election in the wake of the disastrous Citizens United decision, and I predict that we will see a massive tide of smears whose mendacity and numerousness will make the Swift Boat and Willie Horton travesties look quaint.  Romney has already been sounding the "real American" drum, implying and at times outright stating that the president is not truly American.  These attacks effectively roll together his race, his father's immigrant status, and his intellectual, urban background into a threatening, totemic "Other" to be cast out.  Romney understands first that nationalism is one of America's most influential and least discussed political forces, and second, that he needs to deflect attention of his own "Other" status as a Mormon by maintaining a constant assault on the president's supposedly "un-American" nature.  He and his campaign are smart in their perfidy, because as anyone who knows American history understands, whiteness trumps religion every time.

4.  Sarah Palin will come back.  America's greatest attention-monger this side of Kim Kardashian has appeared to have gone dormant.  However, methinks this Grizzly Mama is merely hibernating, waiting for an opportunity to come out of her lair and bask again in the worship of the GOP masses.  She may have been tarnished, but now so have all of the others on the extremes of the populist Right.  As each major non-Romney candidate has suffered implosion or embarrassment, Palin no longer seems to ridiculous.  I do not think she will throw her hat in the ring or try to get the nomination via a brokered convention, just that she will try to assert herself in as public a way as possible.  This might include a highly public denunciation of a Romney nomination and with it a call for Republicans to boycott the election.  It might mean her getting hired on as a talking head to do campaign coverage for one of the major networks.  Hell, it might even be as a third party candidate.  In any case, I am confident that 2012 will mean Sarah Palin's sudden return to the political stage.

5.  Barack Obama will be re-elected president.  The economy is showing signs of improving.  Romney is the most electable Republican candidate, but he is uncharismatic, unappealing, and so obviously a creature of Wall Street and the 1% at a time when the sleeping giant of class consciousness has awakened.  The Republicans have become so extreme that they have little to offer anyone who isn't white, male, native born, heterosexual, Christian, and affluent.  President Obama has to contend with a cruddy economy, the inevitable low-blow attacks, and a Congress and Supreme Court that will be actively working to undermine him.  All that being true, a majority of Americans seem to like the man, and the extremity and insanity of his opposition will rub off on Romney.  With the president having brought the war in Iraq to a close and successfully ordered bin Laden's death, the Republicans would be foolish to run on foreign policy.  It won't be a blow-out, and might be a nail biter, but I predict four more years.

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