Saturday, January 5, 2019
January 5-6, 2019: 2019 Predictions
[There are a number of significant anniversaries in 2019, so for this New Year’s series I’ve highlighted a handful of such historical anniversaries. Leading up to this special weekend post featuring exclusive AmericanStudier predictions on the year ahead!]
First and foremost: I’m not gonna predict a darn thing about the future for Trump et al. Even the most AmericanStudying of AmericanStudiers can admit to feeling totally unable to see what’s coming down the pike with this crew, in these far too interesting times. Trump could be impeached or in hiding at Mar-a-Lago by the time this post (which I’m writing in mid-November) is published, he could have started a war with North Korea or Iran or French Guyana, he could have added himself to a new outcropping of Mount Rushmore or replaced every face on every denomination of bill with his orange mug, who the hell can say.
So I’m not gonna do that. But I will share these three predictions:
1) The new blood’s gonna shake things up: I wrote last week about a few of the many inspiring and impressive newly elected Congresspeople. As of this writing, a group of the young women in particular have already assembled as a kind of superhero team, and are proposing a range of progressive new policies and plans. Throughout the McConnell and Ryan era Congress has pretty much become a propaganda wing of first Fox News and now Trumpism, and the thought of young Congresspeople getting things done that really move the needle for American society is a surprising one to be sure. But I believe in this young core, admire their ambition, and can’t wait to see what they do in the new year.
2) The citizenship debate’s gonna keep heating up: I know that Trump’s late October floated idea of redefining birthright citizenship by Executive Order seemed like a fake pre-election October Surprise a la his mysterious “middle-class tax cut,” and maybe the EO will disappear as fully as that fake news seems to have. But to my mind—and maybe I’m biased ‘cause of that forthcoming book and all, but I don’t think that’s it—the battle over American identity is the defining conflict of our era, and will only intensify in 2019. The white supremacist exclusionary side of that battle has never been content with limiting future arrivals to America, and has always fought to destroy existing communities that don’t fit their vision of the nation. Ending birthright citizenship would be a key step for that exclusionary agenda, and I predict Trump will pursue it (if he hasn’t already by the time this appears).
3) Pop culture’s gonna surprise us: I know the current propensity for remakes and reboots and sequels and prequels makes it seem like popular culture is out of good ideas. And the most financially successful pop culture texts do generally fit that bill, although I’m not sure too many folks would have predicted that 2018’s #1 film would be Black Panther. But if you dig deeper and look at some of the year’s best-reviewed films (Eighth Grade, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), or some of its most acclaimed TV shows (Atlanta, The Deuce, A Very English Scandal), or some of its most popular albums (George Ezra, Post Malone, Dua Lipa), you find a ton of unexpected surprises and strikingly original content. To my mind, there’s never been more breadth and depth in our popular culture, and I can’t wait to see where 2019 takes us.
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What do you think? Anniversaries you’d highlight or predictions you’d share?