The epidemic of list-eria that has swept the media over the last week or so has drawn me to two inescapable conclusions, the first being that I really am tired of such lists, and second, that I am even more tired of 2013. Maybe it’s just me being more than usually dyspeptic, but 2013 was a particularly crappy year, and publishing all these painfully accurate lists about it only makes matters worse.
For that reason, I’d like to discuss 2014, which is almost undoubtedly going to be even crappier, but only because I would be so delighted to be wrong I’m more than willing to toss my future credibility to the four winds and make a few predictions. That said, I’m not so fiendishly attached to this unselfish endeavor, nor am I sadistic enough toward Late Night readers, that I will present my tea-leaf readings in that tiresome list format.
As we’ve seen, widely popular policies will continued to be treated as something akin to treason, across the board. This is an election year, after all, and expecting an actual lame duck President (though a figurative one since his inauguration), together with a corrupt and timid Democratic Party likely to be even more lame than this year.
I’ve left the Republicans out of my argument simply because, just as in many preceding years, no stated Republican policies poll above 50%, most far below that, but yet they will continue to prevail, whether on taxation, immigration, environment, Wall Street, you name it. This is because Democrats are, well, Republicans on these issues, and differentiating themselves is always exceedingly difficult.
There are those, of course, who do take bold stances once on a while, but if you expect the gang who couldn’t pass background checks after Sandy Hook to, say, restore unemployment benefits during years of 7% plus unemployment, you’re also probably still waiting for White Santa from UPS to deliver your new flat screen. Bold stances are useful only in creating faux balance for the Republican proponents of child labor and whatnot.
I think it’s safe to say, too, that the grievous incursions on Americans’ privacy laid bare in 2013 will end up in the same spot the similar incursions on our financial security over the previous years; that is, momentarily hobbled with the general trajectory intact. On the privacy side, however, a glimmer of hope might rest with the courts, albeit with little thanks to Obama’s appointments, which seem unlikely to improve despite new filibuster limits.
I do think Democrats will maintain control of the Senate, and possibly gain seats in the House, but for the reasons drearily enumerated above this costly success won’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of policy direction, and the loss of a few ordinarily venal Republicans in favor of bona fide neanderthals will only deepen the current state of profitable (for some) polarization.
Not that 2014 will be irredeemably dreadful, at least compared to its horrifying predecessor, but any progressive gains will be made outside of our clotted excuse for a national government. Commercial pressures and foreign governments might advance belated privacy protections, local initiatives and lawsuits might slow the obliteration of the environment, and being continually scooped by upstart bloggers and emboldened leakers, bits of the oft-disgraced MSM might be a little more probing, but these will only be exceptions to the rule.
On the bright side, David Gregory will finally fail at least laterally, and I’ll drink to that.