Ah yes, 2016. Come in! Welcome. And not a moment too soon; 2015 terrified us.
ISIS’ tentacles spread to San Bernardino, Paris, Mali. Republican candidates reminded us that our guns keep us safe, that our borders welcome Christians and Christians only, and that our future presidents must all be Christian. I can only assume that future presidents will all have Christian names, starting with one Dr. Ben Carson. Meanwhile, conflict in the Middle East soared to new heights with diplomatic rows between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia continued with its shenanigans in countries unfortunate enough to be caught up in its orbit, and the EU struggled to welcome hundreds of thousands of (Syrian) refugees.
Germany exercised exceptional leadership by throwing its borders open to refugees, providing a beacon of hope when other countries went dark. Welcoming more than a million Syrian refugees with open arms took extraordinary leadership, and reminds us that some politicians prefer to do what is right over what is politically convenient. Germany’s example reminds us that the warped words and twisted actions of a select few should not hold the rest of humanity hostage. That the world should not be cowed by despicable acts of crude violence committed by a select few, and that we instead chose to march on, defiant.
2016 will be a fascinating year, rising to a a crescendo in November with the 2016 US Presidential elections. Will President Trump carpet bomb the Middle East? Will President Carson issue a blanket ban on Muslims? Can President Cruz spark yet another “our President is not born in this country” birther conspiracy? All such scenarios remain unlikely, but not impossible.
Meanwhile, my money is on a pragmatic President Clinton. Her win would usher in a set of reasonable diplomatic policies that would rely not on brute strength but pragmatic alliances to reign in ISIS, stabilize countries along Russia’s border, and continue to contain China. Her win would also usher in a practical set of domestic policies, ideally starting with tax reform. Sadly, climate change and gun control will likely be nonstarters given a Republican-controlled Congress. By contrast, a Republican victory in the White House could yield “populist” but utterly destructive policies like the ones listed above.
Given the moral nadir we hit in 2015, I remain optimistic that 2016 will be better, if only slightly. A President Clinton would lift us; a Republican presidency would require me to reassess if 2015 really is a moral nadir compared to four years of a Republican-controlled legislature and executive.
Here’s to a better world…