We recall the pundits pontificating after the election of Barack Obama in 2008 that the Republican Party was dead. Youth, and the demographics of youth, were on the side of the Democrats for the next 40 years.
We recall that when Sen. Bernie Sanders entered the presidential race in 2015 and started preaching socialism, the pundits wrote him off. Too extreme, too far out, to resonate in America, they said.
We recall that with the end of the Cold War in 1989, Francis Fukayama wrote an influential article, “The End of History,” that politicians, pundits and academics were persauded heralded the future. The end of the Cold War marked the end of debate on political ideology worldwide. There would be no more conflicts based on opposing political ideologies. Democracy had triumphed once and for all.
We recall an article published in 2002 that heralded Europe — not China, not Russia, not the Islamic world — as the emerging competitor to the United States on the world stage. The European Union was becoming a superpower.
The only thing these predictions shared was their utter certitude.
Well, eight years after Barack Obama was elected, the Democratic Party lost the presidency. Three years after Bernie Sanders entered the presidential race, polls show that socialism (however understood) has more credibility in America than at any time since the 1930s. Thirty years after the “end” of history, democracy is under attack by Islamic regimes and others around the world, even as Russia is resurgent, if not as a communist power, certainly not as a democratic one. Finally, 16 years after the European Union was seen as an unstoppable unifier of Europe, with all that implies for economic power and security, the EU, George Soros recently said, “will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991” if it doesn’t change. The EU needs to boost its stagnant economy and heal its deep fissures revealed by mass immigration just to get back to where it was. No one regards it any longer as a potential superpower.
So much for political predictions and certitudes. The Talmud says that after the destruction of the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago, only children and fools prophesy.
Say the same for Donald Trump’s inevitable triumph — or inevitable defeat — in 2020.
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