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Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Bigotry, Economy, Government, Health, Hispanics, Immigration, International, Migrants, Politics, Science & Technology, Weather | 2 comments

What could go wrong in 2016?

 Milt Priggee,

Milt Priggee,

WASHINGTON — You probably noticed that 2015 was pretty weird. But hey, it’s a brand new year — a fresh start, a blank slate, an unwritten script. In 2016, what could possibly go wrong?

Uh, where to begin?

My fingers balk at typing the words “President-elect Trump” because I don’t think such a thing will actually happen. But at this point I’m wondering how to justify ruling anything out.

A year ago, was there anyone on earth who predicted that Donald Trump would utterly dominate the Republican presidential race? That the boastful billionaire would be setting the nation’s political agenda? That Jeb Bush, armed with more campaign money than he could possibly spend, would be drifting helplessly toward the single-digit wings of the crowded debate stage?

Nobody saw this coming, least of all the GOP establishment grandees who, as I wrote in August, are working their way through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. First there was denial (“What a weird dream; maybe it was something we ate”), then anger (“He’s a clown, he’s a jerk, he should be drawn and quartered”), then bargaining (“OK, OK, we give up on immigration reform”). Now party elders seem to be sinking into the fourth stage, depression.

I have no idea whether they’ll have to reach the final stage, acceptance. Trump’s legions turn out for his revivalist-style rallies, but will they actually vote? If they do — and if the establishment-approved candidates keep pulling one another down like crabs in a barrel — then Trump is the likely GOP nominee. There, I said it.

That doesn’t make him our likely next president, though. Most Americans are appalled by notions such as forcibly deporting 11 million undocumented migrants or hanging a “No Muslims Allowed” sign on the Statue of Liberty. Quite a few dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, asked to support a candidate whose platform amounts to ethnic cleansing, surely would sit this one out — or even vote for the Democratic nominee, probably Hillary Clinton.

Trump vs. Clinton could be a wipeout defeat for the Republican Party on the scale of the 1964 Barry Goldwater debacle. The only caveat? See above re: absolutely ruling anything out.

What else could go wrong in 2016? Well, politics isn’t the only realm in which we have to shift our thinking from “no way” to “please make it stop.” Climate is another. Scientists confidently predict that 2015 will prove to have been the hottest year on record, perhaps by a considerable margin. And this week, temperatures at the North Pole may have reached the melting point — roughly 50 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Also this week we’ve had deadly tornadoes in Texas, bad flooding in the Mississippi Valley, worse flooding across South America and hurricane-force winds in the North Atlantic. On the bright side, there’s been no plague of locusts, far as I can tell.

It is true that the proximate cause of most of this anomalous weather is believed to be an unusually strong El Nino phenomenon in the Equatorial Pacific. I am obliged to include the disclaimer that no one weather event can be definitively blamed on climate change — not even the fact that I saw people in Washington wearing shorts and sandals on Christmas Eve.

That said, let’s be real. At this point, anyone who rejects the scientific consensus on human-induced global warming is either a blinkered ideologue, a Republican presidential candidate or both.

Climate scientists have long predicted that one impact of higher global temperatures will be to make extreme weather more common and unpredictable — and more extreme. With that monster El Nino on the loose, weather in 2016 could be even wilder and woolier.

In other news, what could go wrong in Congress is obvious; the same things go wrong every year. What could go wrong in foreign affairs is too depressing to contemplate.

So maybe it’s better to think about what could go right.

The economy continues to grow — slowly, perhaps, but steadily. Crime is at or near historical lows. About 90 percent of Americans have health insurance, which is closer to universal coverage than we’ve ever been. Budget-busting medical costs have slowed their rise. These and other positive trends should continue, as meanwhile the nation lives through an election campaign that will not be able to dodge issues of fundamental importance.

In 2016, we’re likely to see an exercise in democracy that is passionate, messy, at times ugly — but vitally important. Happy New Year, and note that the seat-belt light will be on through November.

Eugene Robinson’s email address is [email protected] (c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

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  • dduck

    My List:
    (1) A big war between Turkey and the Kurds. Where do we stand?
    (2) ISIS in Libya and other parts of Africa expanding to new bases while which watch and wish they will go away.
    (3) Egyptian government becomes more repressive, but hey they are our and Israel’s pals
    (4) More bad treatment of Palestinians who will be squeezed into smaller spaces. But hey they are our pals.
    (5) Iran sabre rattles and sends small fast boats to harass our ships .
    (6) The new government in Canada pisses of many Canadians, oil revenue shrinks and costs to help refugees rises while lost jobs becomes more evident.
    (7) Someone will notice the uptick in people coming across the
    Mexican border.
    (8) Allowing anyone to come into the U.S. from certain countries without a visa will be a big battle in Congress, along with lax monitoring of visitors with visas overstaying their visit. Yes, the good get screwed because of the few bad apples.
    (9) American Indians will continue to be screwed and will not start a Indian Lives Matter push. They should,
    (10) Vets will not see much improvements in the way they can access health care and housing.
    (11) More flaunting of guns in Texas and feeble attempts at stopping the scourge of the Second Amendment identifiers.
    (12) Russia our new pal, since only they can control Iran and remake Assad

  • dduck

    A new Star Wars will not have the same story line and no Hans Solo. Luke Skywalker to speak in a falsetto voice and come out of the closet.

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