I predicted that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 Presidential race, so let that be a warning to you.
1. The 2014 and 2016 elections will not be good for Democrats. I don’t say this in a juvenile spirit of “Oh yeah, well we’re going to beat you next time, so there!” Rather, I say this because the sixth year of a Presidency is historically brutal on the sitting President’s party. This is merely a function of our tendency as an electorate to blame the current government for everything we think is wrong with the country at the moment. Of course, the current party in power managed just fine on November 6th, despite a general pessimism about the current state of the economy, but there were a number of anomalies in the 2012 election. Barack Obama is a popular President with a loyal base. This was not true of Jimmy Carter or George Bush Sr. There were also a number of major stumbles on the Republican side, most prominently the rape comments of Todd Akin and Richard Murdock, that tipped several races to the Democrats. Without the aid of a popular President at the top of the ticket, however, the down ticket races in 2014 will be far more vulnerable, especially if Republican candidates begin to restyle themselves in a Libertarian direction (more on that in a moment).
And consider this: In 2004, even after the seemingly ubiquitous outrage over the “warmongering” of George W. Bush, his portrayal in the media as a buffoon and Texas oil man who acted solely in his own interests, etc, he still won reelection by a healthy margin, with more votes than he received in 2000. This could easily have been taken as a sign that America was doubling down on conservative social values and foreign policy, and yet just two years later in 2006 the House and Senate swung over to the Democrats.
This first prediction is the most provisional. I’m far from certain that it will come true. I can just as easily see the Democrats holding on to the Senate and gaining a few more seats in the House, but all this depends on what sort of candidates the Republicans nominate, which brings me to my next few predictions.
2. Republicans will begin to favor the legalization of marijuana.
3. Republicans will distance themselves even more from gay marriage, or say that it should be a state issue.
Both of these issues fall generally under the umbrella of Libertarianism. Much of the Libertarian platform is popular with young voters (especially marijuana, and the “war on drugs” in general). During the Republican primaries, the Ron Paul folks were fond of sharing polls that showed Ron Paul beating Mitt Romney among young and Independent voters, despite the argument that Romney was the more “electable” candidate. Since Romney lost the youth vote in a major way, you can bet people will turn to Libertarianism as an easy solution. There are plenty of conservative pundits, like Hugh Hewitt, who will continue to argue that issues like gay marriage are important to our society and shouldn’t be abandoned, but I have a gut feeling that his is the losing voice.
My final two predictions are more questions than actual predictions, so I won’t number them. They concern immigration and abortion. There is an impulse within Libertarianism towards something like open boarders, but this is one Libertarian position I suspect will not gain much ground by 2016. Boarder security and illegal immigration have more to do with Mexican drug cartels and Islamic terrorism than whether an undocumented high school student should be allowed to stay in America so she can attend college. Thus, while I suspect that “amnesty” in one form or another will begin to gain popularity, I doubt that Republicans will start getting too “soft” on immigration. I say this is a question and not a prediction, though, because I have no idea what form Republican immigration policy will actually take. There must be a better way to frame the debate than simply “pro-immigration” vs. “anti-immigration”, but I don’t know what it is.
Lastly, I am equally agnostic about the future of the abortion issue. The Akin and Murdock fiascos demonstrated what should have been obvious already, that we must speak knowledgeably and with clarity about this issue, and candidates who do not are doomed to die the death of a thousand sound bites. I still believe that this issue is different from the gay marriage issue, however. For one thing, while public opinion appears to be racing towards gay marriage, the indications are that support for abortion, especially unrestricted or “elective” abortion, is slowly receding. Moreover, the same Libertarian impulses we have been discussing do not apply to abortion, as we now have another human being involved, and her freedom and right to life is (at least arguably) of equal value.
This will be (I hope) my last political post for a good long while. It’s time to take a break from politics and start picking some theological fights instead. I’m sure I will revisit these things in 2014. If every single one of these predictions turns out to be wrong, I will get out of the game altogether. If just one is right, however, I will do as the professionals do and act as though it proves my clairvoyant powers.
What do you think? Any predictions of your own? Do you think my predictions are completely off base? Let me know in the comments.