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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Obama's America

I've written before here and here about the impact on the politics of the United States as the “millennial generation”—those born between 1980 and 2000—enter the public arena. The stunning rise of Barack Obama to be the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party may be seen as the first decisive consequence of the coming millennial domination of politics there. Certainly the demographics of Obama's supporters is strongly tilted toward the young.

The Obama campaign has been long on style and inspiration and short on specific policy prescriptions, and recently has veered toward the centre on a number of points which were strongly defended during the primary campaign. There has been relatively little outrage among Obama's vehement supporters at these apparent sell-outs, largely, I suspect, because they believe that this running toward the centre is essential to win in the general election, and that once elected, Obama will govern as the hard left ideologue they believe (or at least hope) him to be. It has seemed to me for some time that 2008, the fortieth anniversary of 1968, when the radical wave last peaked and broke, is seen by the aging radicals of the Sixties and their intellectual heirs as the one great chance remaining in their lifetimes to enact radical, transformative change in the U.S., and Barack Obama, a radical by instinct, whose eloquence and thin paper trail allows him to gain the support of centrists who would be repelled were his actual agenda known to them, the vehicle to achieve that change.

If my gut instinct about Obama is correct, and he does manage to win election, along with a Democratic majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the U.S. will be poised for its sharpest veer to the Left since the New Deal, and perhaps in its history. What will the consequences of this be? Well, nobody knows, but that doesn't deter folks like me (who, unlike the millennials, remember the 1960s and 1970s) from making predictions. So here, in the spirit of Harry Shultz's New Year predictions, are my prognostications for the U.S. and world scene at the end of the first Obama administration. Now, some of these are tongue in cheek (although I suspect readers may differ in their estimation of which), but they all follow from my expectations of how Obama and a unified Democratic majority will govern. Some readers may consider a majority of these items as progress, while others will deem them pernicious. All I'm trying to do here is forecast objective events.

Posted at July 10, 2008 23:13