Now that the silly season is over, let’s be really clear where events are headed.
1) Obama is reelected. He never needs your vote ever again. What he does need, to become as rich as Bill Clinton, is people to buy his speeches. If you don’t have 500K or so hanging around to pay for an ex-POTUS speech, you are no longer part of his constituency. Practically speaking, he needs to make sure people in the financial industry have the money and inclination to make him rich once he’s no longer President.
2) Idiot triumphalism aside, the electoral count was deceptive. The Republicans didn’t lose by that much in key electoral states. The Democrats are not cruising for 20 years of control of the Presidency. There will be a Republican president again, that is an existential certainty. The Republicans didn’t want this election very much, and did not really push for it. There are good reasons for that.
3) The Republican party are reactionaries, who want to repeal the 20th century. The Democrats are conservatives. There is no major left wing party in the US. Since avowed left-wingers won’t even vote for third parties in states where Democrats will win for sure, like New York, third parties can be written off for the time being, especially on the left. If there is a third party which will rise, it will be on the right.
4) The Republicans and the Democrats agree on many issues, disagreeing mostly on social issues. Even on social issues, the differences are in the margins. Obama deported more Hispanics than Bush, but is ok with letting college educated young Hispanics stay, which was enough to buy the Hispanic vote, since they came here to build a better future for their children. Obama overruled his drug administration’s scientists to make sure that Plan B did not become an OTC medication, because as a father he would want to know. (Of course, if an underage female needs Plan B, in a lot of cases it will be because her father or other family member raped her.) Obama signed an executive order saying that federal money could not be used for abortion.
5) On civil liberties, as opposed to social issues, there is no real space between the two parties. Obama has increased surveillance, arrogated the right to kill American citizens without a trial, and instituted more cases against whistle blowers than any President in history.
6) Obama wants a Grand Bargain. This will mean some nominal tax increases on the rich, and a pile of cuts to the middle class and the poor, especially the young. SS & Medicare will be cut.
7) Bush tried to cut SS, he failed. Obama will succeed, cutting SS and Medicare is something only a Democrat can do. Moreover he will make Dems vote for it, and the Republicans will only give him enough votes to pass, most of them will vote against it, thus making Republicans the party of SS and Medicare. There will also be massive cuts to the federal bureaucracy and even further cuts to programs like food stamps (which continues to exist only because farmers want it.)
8 ) Obama is, thus, moving to austerity. The economy will be ok till he gets what he wants, then it will crater. Give it two years, after the mid-terms, you’re toast.
9) Americans have decided they want catastrophe. There is NO significant force in US society pushing against having a disaster.
10) The US is trying to become a petro-state through fracking. It won’t help most Americans, and it will do massive environmental damage. It will also accelerate global warming. Yes, Obama is better on global warming than Republicans, but he’s not enough better to matter, he is, in fact, making it worse. Your grandchildren will ritually curse your very names.
11) America will have another major war within 10 years. That’s what empires in decline do. It could be with Saudi Arabia, it could be with China, it could be with someone else. It will happen, because a President will be in a bind, and think “I’ve got this big military, why don’t I use it to solve my problems?”
12) Inequality will continue to increase, with dips during recessions. Wages and wealth of ordinary Americans will continue to drop. There will be a small housing recovery, due to massive Fed intervention, keeping homes off the market and deliberate destruction of homes, but it will not get back to a bubble.
13) The Fiscal Cliff will most likely be averted this time, but it will happen again after the next financial crash. If that one is avoided, it will happen again. At some point, it won’t be averted. The US will have no choice at that point but to move to full war footing. If you don’t get a big war before that point, you will then.
14) The fiscal cliffs won’t be avoided forever because the rich aren’t really going to tax themselves at the necessary rates. If they do that, they don’t get ahead. Every collapse, they have to bailed out by someone else, if they aren’t, they’re destroyed. They know this. The key financial assets they held, at the depth of the crash, before the Fed started accepting them, were worth 10 cents on the dollar at best.
15) Europe is not going to fix its problems until the Euro collapses. There will likely be civil wars, Spain is one obvious place it may happen. Greece is almost certainly going to be taken over by the Golden Dawn, who aren’t even neo-Nazis, but rather the real thing: straight up Nazis. The rich would rather deal with Nazis than with the left. That isn’t going to work out for them, but they don’t realize that.
16) In the 20s the Europeans relied on America to be the engine of growth, that didn’t work out. In the current day, the world is relying on China to be the engine of economic growth, and that isn’t going to work out either.
17) After the fiscal cliff that isn’t managed, and after the big war, the US will have a full fledged economic collapse, on the order of Russia after the USSR collapsed, but worse because most Americans don’t actually own their houses (they have mortgages), don’t have gardens where they can grow food, and don’t have good public transit.
18) History is mutable. This is now the glide path. It is most likely. The details can change, but the endgame is virtually certain. Since no one in the US wants to stop collapse and catastrophe, it will happen.
19) After it happens, the current generation in power will be thrown out on their asses by the young, who will have to fix America. We’ll see if they have what it takes to do it. Expect them to be very cruel to the old, who they will view as having screwed up everything and put the entire bill on them. Among other things, expect an end to so-called intellectual property (a misnomer), expect the financial class to be gutted and expect a radical rewrite of bankruptcy laws.
20) This is an optimistic scenario. The less optimistic (but possibly realistic) scenario has a “charismatic leader” of some variety take over and institute a dictatorship of some variety. Many Americans will be begging for such a figure to arise, feeling that only a strong man can make the country work again.