Sorry for disappearing yesterday (as I don’t want to disappoint my legions). 2018. The expectations seem fairly high, and are centered, justifiably or not, on the Trump administration and the various domestic and international crises attached to it, and the tweets. Oh **** the tweets!
A CNN article sums up the stakes well enough. Most view 2018 as the year that will bring everything to a head. Is that view accurate, though? The expectations have been building since January 2016. A would-be dictator took to the stage. Some perceived this not necessarily in dictator terms, but someone who would bring a necessary conservative strength after an era of “liberal weakness” (thanks, Putin). Many of them are patriots who have an incoherent view of patriotism.
But back to 2018. After what will be more than a year of enforced stagnation, 2018 seemingly offers a chance at the “reset” button, in part because of the midterm elections, but also because of the potential the Mueller investigation provides. 2017 was a year of potential impeachment at every turn, though. While 2018 presents opportunities 2017 does not, the past year gives an important lesson in tempering expectations.
The outcome of the Mueller investigation is far from certain. Not simply due to content of the actual findings, since impeachment is very much a political process, but also because some Republicans are engaging in a fierce, protracted anti-Mueller campaign to discredit the jolly fellow.
This is obviously the most analyzed piece of the 2018 puzzle. Impeachment: Out with the Boot, in with the ponderous, extremely understated, Mike Pence. The widely agreed upon theme of this year seems to be change at any cost. Also keep in mind that Pence is one of the ideologues that helps to crystallize Trump’s agenda, and acts as a signal to far-right extremists that Trump is more or less aligned with them. Many are viewing impeachment as a means to cure general ills rather than just specific ones, specifically, a single character besmirching democracy. Since Pence is a member of the far-right as well many things would stay the same or worsen, depending on what sphere of governmental control we are talking about.
A vague Christian in the pocket of the Koch brothers doesn’t bode well for the democratic experiment we are forced to live in.
So, we have Pence, upholder of far-right extremism in the face of “god forbid” impeachment. That’s not good. What else, then? Other portals of change await, beckoning a brighter future, or doom and gloom, to follow.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is extending an olive branch to South Korea, while keeping the United States at bay by saying that the only thing it has to fear is retaliation. The US responds with a warning concerning any further missile testing. What seems clear is that the war of words will continue well into this year. What about open conflict? North Korea possesses nuclear technology, which is a heavy deterrent, but its proximity to South Korea, coupled with a scaffolding of artillery and biological weapons, makes for a precarious situation.
All of that is enough to keep a politician occupied for quite awhile. Let’s add Iran onto the plate, though. Protests have grown in response to government corruption and raised prices. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the protests as being concocted by the country’s enemies. Using geopolitics to obscure human rights issues. Interesting way to go, I guess.
Lots of events are already brewing in early 2018. From the Mueller investigation all the way to Iran’s oppressive government (then back to our own increasingly oppressive government). Is this the year where everything will come to a head?
North Korea is nothing new. It has plagued the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. Barack Obama pushed the Iran Nuclear deal. Liberal certainty over Trump’s impeachment was among the loudest voices of last year. These problems have been around for awhile, which obviously doesn’t mean that they will stagnate until the end of time (or until the 2020 elections, even).
If nothing else, boiling expectations will help to define 2018. Now we just have to wait for exciting events to transpire. It’s already so early, but the Year of Competitive Politics is already in full-swing.