Predicting the Future

It takes courage to live in a democracy, not least because of the very real risk that people you strongly disagree with may end up in charge from time to time. These days, it seems all too easy for us to confuse political opponents with mortal enemies, and so – when your side loses – the natural tendency is to see a cataclysm looming. Heck, the natural tendency might even be to want a cataclysm, if only to justify the life-and-death terms in which modern political campaigns get us thinking.

For example, as the Clinton era closed and George W. Bush took office in 2001, my fears for the future were neatly summed up by an article on the satirical news web site The Onion, which read in part:

“Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers [and] going into massive debt… During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton… On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession…”

Crazy, huh? Oh, wait. Never mind.

On cue, the American right wing is reeling in shock and horror at the realization that a “socialist” “redistributionist” who “pals around with terrorists” will be in the Oval Office come January 20.

Cue the jeremiads.

“Well, there goes the neighborhood, I mean, country,” wrote Mike Miller of Stevensville, in a one-sentence letter to the editors of the Missoulian on Thursday.

Daniel Shevlin of Missoula, whose letter was printed the same day, went into more detail, offering a list of “predictions… regarding what is going to happen in America in the next four years (probably one year)”:

“1. The term “In God we trust” will be removed from all U.S. currency.

2. Our Second Amendment rights will be limited.

3. Under the guise of the Fairness Doctrine, freedom of speech will be stifled (unless, of course, the speech you practice praises the Democratic Party, and leftism in general).

4. Thanks to socialist-esque policies that companies won’t be able to afford, unemployment will be hovering at about 10 percent to 15 percent within two years.

5. Our borders will be open without limits to any illegal alien, regardless of criminal background. Crime will skyrocket.

6. Free welfare, driver’s licenses and the right to vote will be extended to illegal aliens (vote Democrat!).

7. “Hate crimes” will be expanded to the level of the absurd. (Cut off a person in traffic who happens to be a minority, and that will be a hate crime. Sound ridiculous? Wait and see.)

8. Israel will be all but abandoned by Obama.

9. Even though he promised he wouldn’t, every person’s taxes will increase over 20 percent of current levels.”

As with the right wing’s pre-election predictions of doom under an Obama presidency – that January 21st would see an executive order sending the U.S. Marshals door to door to collect citizens’ firearms, that the White House would open a family planning clinic in the basement so that Obama could start personally performing abortions, that the U.S. would sever diplomatic ties with Israel and replace the Stars and Stripes with “the Moslem flag” (whatever that is) – my reaction is to wonder what people who agree with Mr. Shevlin will do when these predictions don’t come true.

Will they consider the possibility that the white heat of election politics may have warped their perceptions? Will they reexamine their assumptions? Or will they assume that the now shrunken minority of Republican lawmakers is somehow managing to prevent this sinister man from achieving his dark designs?

Elsewhere in his letter, Mr. Shevlin suggested that we cut out his list of predictions and put it on our refrigerators so that we can tick off the items as they come true.

I’ll do him one better. I’m going to start collecting all of the ominous predictions about an Obama presidency that I can find on-line and post them here, in a new category called “Obama jeremiads.”

That way, we can keep track of them all and, eventually, give credit to those brave prophets who were clear-sighted enough to anticipate the coming cataclysm.

“If only we had listened,” we will say.