The end is near!
In this particular case I’m talking about the end of the current election cycle, which is now less than a week away. For what little it’s worth, I’ll be voting for the Dems at the national level in a sincere hope that a split government will spend the next few years foiling each other and engaging in nasty but meaningless spats instead of propelling the country closer to it’s date with destiny. At the state level, I’m still undecided between Hatch or Hutchinson for governor. Hutchinson seems to have the best plan of any of the candidates, so I’m leaning towards voting for him, but if the race is tight enough, I may throw my vote to Hatch to make sure the Repubs get out.
This has been an interesting election year to watch, what with the Democrats finally finding some traction, and the Republicans trying to cover up the growing gaps in their electoral armor. Overall, not much will change, since either way the corporatists will win in the end. Still, try and remember some of the major themes and proposals that you’ve heard this year, for I feel that they will seem very dated by the time the next election cycles show up.
Regarding financial issues, both parties have stuck to their normal platforms: Republicans want to cut taxes to grow jobs (again ignoring how they’ve been simultaneously borrowing heavily and cutting taxes at the same time), while Democrats want to raise taxes (on the upper class at the minimum). Both parties are suggesting that they will retain the same level of services if not grow them. In a future where the economy is in recession if not outright collapse, this will seem like a pipedream. A shrinking tax base combined with larger numbers of retirees demanding their promised services will mean a financial meltdown for those of us still working (i.e. Generations X & Y). Future candidates will talk about which services they will try to retain while doing their best to not raise taxes too much, or debase our currency too fast.
The massive debt we have worked up will be nigh impossible to pay off in a shrinking economy without hyperinflation or re-monetization. Even now, our erstwhile allies are calling for nations holding our debt to ‘telegraph’ their moves to dump their dollar holdings before it becomes a full-scale rout. We have spent ourselves into a huge hole, both individually and as a nation. Whether this is due to mass incomptence by our leaders or part of a master plan to wipe out the middle class remains to be seen. When the super-wealthy are motiviated solely by greed, pretty much anything becomes plausible. To paraphrase Stalin, one family sliding into poverty is a tragedy, while 1,000,000 families doing the same is merely a statistic.
From a foreign affairs standpoint, we may be witnessing the last gasps of US Hegemony. One prominent Neo-Conservative writer is claiming that Bush has no choice but to bomb Iran, consequences be damned. Even if we do manage to set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the effect on the world economy will be severe. Skyrocketing oil prices will set off a chain reaction of economic crises around the world, and even if the US manages to retain some of it’s global force-projection capabilities, we will be treated like a pariah nation by the rest of the world, and deservedly so. The Bush doctrine of preventative war will be thoroughly discredited.
We’ll see the end of ‘soccer moms’, ‘security moms’, ‘NASCAR Dads’ and other niche groups of voters. In their place will be massive numbers of ‘pocketbook voters’, and perhaps a growing class of ‘unemployed voters’. No more will we be swayed by attack ads exposing candidate’s pecadillos, nor will we vote based on side-show issues like gay marriage and abortion rights. What we will care about will be the core issues: how can we feed our families, what jobs can we hold, and where will we live when we can’t afford to heat the McMansion’s we’ve built? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see one of the two major parties give in to populism, or perhaps we’ll see the rise of a truly formidiable third party again that will take up the cause of the masses again. As long as both parties are firmly in the grip of the corporations, they will never treat labor and the middle class fairly.
If we’re lucky, the current arrangement will hold until 2008, or maybe 2010. Regardless, though, I think we are nearing the end of an era, and waiting for the Long Emergency to unfold.