Almost in parallel with Climate Change, the climate of politics and world events seems to be intensified by human events, we see extremes happening more often and more swiftly than in previous years.
Revolutions, independent armies seizing land, marriage equality, established nations invading neighbors, universal healthcare succeeding in the U.S., deadly diseases sweeping nations, oil prices tumbling and American adversaries being hammered, cyber attacks on American soil, on and on.
Things happen quickly and suddenly nowadays, sometimes in an entirely unpredictable way so there’s no knowing for sure but just for the heck of it, here are some outcomes in 2015 to consider:
1. Will the Republican Congress improve, damage or not change the lives of Americans?
Republicans take over the Senate in the new year, they will have control over Congress for the next two years. Some suggest that this will force Republicans to prove that they are worthy of power and that they will pursue a different course than the mindless Party of No mentality they’ve used up until this point in the Obama Presidency.
Others propose that Republicans can’t change their spots and will continue to send highly partisan and certain-to-be-vetoed bills to Obama, trying to serve their base by voting to kill the ACA, consumer protections, etc.
The decisive factors here may be two things, the Tea Party contingent and the 2016 Presidential elections. Since 2015 will be a ramp up to the 2016 primaries and elections, it would be a good bet to say that there will be a great deal of far right posturing to excite and gain the loyalty of core right wing Republicans. Also, the Tea Party has not only pulled the party hard right but have become more and more unhappy about establishment Republicans winning Presidential primaries then losing in the General Election. It was a bitter pill for them to swallow Mitt Romney as their nominee after having McCain the time before, will they go along again with another establishment Republican like Jeb Bush or demand a Tea Party type nominee this time? And will that requirement force Republicans in Congress to veer harder right, alienating women, Latinos and other demographics they would desperately need to have a chance of winning?
In the end, one would have to put the best odds on Republicans pandering more to the extremists in their base and thus taking votes and actions that harm or at best, neglect the mainstream so on this count, my bet would be that with regards to the behavior of Republicans, the lives of average Americans will not be improved in 2015.
2. Will Obamacare be stopped or profoundly damaged?
We know this is a top priority for Republicans, especially as a rallying call to their base but do Republicans really want to be the party that ends universal health care in America? Though that will be among the first bills pushed for passage by the GOP Congress, Obama can and will easily veto such attempts.
But what about the Republicans on the Supreme Court who will have the opportunity to mortally wound the ACA, might they accomplish what Republicans in Congress can’t?
Possibly. The Supreme Court has agreed to take on a case, despite violating precedent (the case never went to appeals which is what is typically required before the SCOTUS will consider taking it), that claims that due to specific wording, unrelated to the intention of the ACA, only state run health insurance exchanges can provide federal subsidies to citizens. Without those subsidies, premiums would skyrocket and most of the 10 million who have health insurance now but didn’t before, could be thrown back out on the street without health insurance.
Would Chief Justice John Roberts want to go down in history with such a stain on his court? A court responsible for decreeing the misery, suffering and deaths of many Americans all in pursuit of a political, anti-citizen/pro-wealthy agenda? It’s hard to believe that he would or that he could rationalize that he’d be able to explain how such a heinous act by a branch of the people’s government could be justified.
While it is something that could happen, my bet on this is that the SCOTUS will hopefully fall short of a majority vote in favor of harming millions of Americans over taking too literally a brief phrase in the ACA that is contradicted by the intent of Congress in passing the bill. So, my bet here is that Americans will be better off when it comes to health care in 2015.
3. Will rampant and institutionalized racism in police forces be reversed?
It’s easy to feel helpless against the persistent racism embedded in many police forces and government. It seems apparent at this point that instead of evaporating over the years as many of us had thought, racism had simply settled intact under the surface of society.
The openly expressed racism that burst out of the reservoirs of American society after Barack Obama won the Presidency was a bit shocking to many white Americans and sadly too familiar to African Americans. There is a sense of defiance to those who are openly racist nowadays, like it is a badge of honor, showing how brave they are to oppose the common sensibility of racial equality. What brave rebels they are, especially when they are legally armed with the weapons and power of law enforcement.
America has for the most part, sat on the sidelines as armed white people and police have been shooting and killing unarmed black men across the country but the shooting of Michael Brown and the strangulation of Eric Garner ending up as legal murders with no indictments of the police who murdered them, seem to have changed this dynamic. Now President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are enjoined on curbing the militarization, violence and racism so endemic in law enforcement currently.
Changes like this will be gradual, racist attitudes and practices can be very hard to blunt but there does seem to be an activated public and government leaders supporting them that appears meaningful in bringing about change.
So my guess is that things could begin to get better with regards to police forces treatment of African Americans next year but not in a markedly or substantial way.
What are your thoughts and predictions about how life will get better or worse for Americans in 2015?