2018 stretches before us like a blank canvas. Economists and Republican politicians are painting a gorgeous festival on it. Democrats are using only one color: black.
Predictions Take the Safe Road
Nearly all predictions are just linear projections of trends currently underway. For example, American production has been rising slightly so the prediction is that it will rise even more. Unemployment has been low, so the prediction is that it will stay low. I saw one prediction saying that wages will go up in 2018, even though they have been going down since the 1970s.
For A Few, Everything Looks Great!
The disastrous “Tax and Jobs Bill” that just passed the Congress shows what is intended. It is a gigantic giveaway to the rich at the long-term expense of the poor. This is not a new trend. It has been going on clearly since American domination of the world began to diminish in the late 1970s. It is reasonable safe, therefore, to predict that the rich will continue to get much richer and the poor much poorer in 2018. Inequality will worsen.
Using the same linear projection approach, one would have to conclude that democracy will continue to ebb and the environment will get even less hospitable.
Politics May Get Messy
The last poll before the Republicans passed their big giveaway, conducted by NBC News, said that only 24% of the American people supported the legislation. Republicans say that people will start liking it as soon as they see tiny improvements in their paychecks beginning in January. Democrats say that support for “trickle down” will fall even further as people see what was actually in the bill.
As 2018 begins, Republicans and their only legislative accomplishment are extremely unpopular. President Trump has the lowest ratings in history. Does that mean that they are going to take a mighty hit in the November elections? Are the Democrats going to take charge and bring back the rosy Obama days?
We should be skeptical. Republicans are backed by an awful lot of money, and money wins elections. Also, they hold state power. Who is to say how they might use their money and their power before November?
They might, for example, start another war. They’ve been talking up war with North Korea for months and they have the ability to start such a war just at the time when they consider it most propitious for their election prospects. It worked for both Bush Presidents, who had low ratings before invading Iraq and high ratings afterward. Sure, lots of people would die, but Republicans might well benefit at the polls!
Before deciding that the Democrats will surely make a comeback in November, remember that they have problems of their own. They robbed Bernie Sanders of the 2016 presidential nomination and, by now, everybody knows it. Deputy Democratic Party Chairman Keith Ellison is touring America right now to try to bring all the Bernies back into the fold, but it’s safe to say that some of them won’t come. The Democrats would have to be really sloppy to not make some gains in 2018, but will they actually turn things around?
In summary, the safe set of expectations for 2018 is that it will be great for the great, but not for us.
What to Hope For
A lot of really good things could happen in 2018. Low unemployment and high consciousness are requisites for an organizing boom. If unions and the other types of organizations presently underway aggressively take advantage of the situation, we could see some real organizational strength develop for working people. Then (and only then) we might expect to see a reversal in the steady decline in our American wages, benefits, and living standards.
There must be half a dozen organizations expecting to take over the Democratic Party, end all corruption, end its dedication to capitalism, and make it a workers’ party. There are others who believe they can create a workers party — perhaps from the Greens or from the Working Families Party — or from scratch. Conditions for a workers party have never been better because of the high educational levels and consciousness of the American people.
The progressive movement is a giant in America. The Women’s March on the day after Trump took power put more people on the streets than ever before in American history. They are planning another one in January 2018.
Even though very few Americans even know what a political strike is, they are becoming common in other parts of the world. With modern communications and the high level of consciousness among people, especially among young people, we may see major changes in America that come from outside the electoral system.
Expect the worst. Hope for and work for the best!