A new year is always is an unknown interval of time in our lives,
but the one we will call 2020 has an unusual number of public
mysteries in its calendar --- and unknown outcomes at home and
The most obvious for Americans is the national election in
November, but before that here will be primaries and caucuses
in the contest for he Democratic presidential nomination that
quite possibly might not end until the party’s national
convention in July. Control of the new U.S. house and U.S senate
is very much in doubt. The resolution of the impeachment
articles passed in the U.S. house, but not yet transmitted to the
U.S senate, is less a question than is how the voters will react to
its partisan process, and what effect it will have on the election.
Beyond the quadrennial political cycle, there is an indeterminate
economic cycle which can have so much impact on elections. Will
the stock market, so emotional in the short term, but often a good
predictor of the intermediate (6 to 9 months) term, go up or down?
Will employment continue at recent record levels? Will inflation
How will the European Union fare after Brexit? Having won in a
landslide, can British Prime Minister Boris Johnson solve his
nation’s problems? What is the political future of Germany now
that Angela Merkel in retiring? Can French President Macron
resolve the current paralyzing national transportation strikes?
Will current instability throughout South and Central America
get worse? Can the Israelis resolve their political stalemate?
Will unrest bring down the regime in Iran?
President Putin?,North Korea? China? Libya? Turkey?
Afghanistan? India? South Africa? All of these and many more
nations and regions are in turmoil at the same time.
My point is that, while international volatility is a constant, it
would appear much more widespread than is usual --- and that
while domestic U.S. elections are always important, much more
about the national future seems at stake this cycle, especially
after so much recent disruption and ideological polarization,
Not all of the above will be resolved in 2020. A U.S. presidential
election will take place, yes, but other current uncertainties
might go on for some time.
There are numerous signals, hints and omens --- as there always
are --- of what might be ahead. I think the size of the margin
and the tone of the voter mood in the recent UK election is one
of those signals for those of us on this side of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless, political and economic forces appear to be
converging to provoke a mysterious and uncertain calendar year
whose numbers (20/20) otherwise denotes visual clarity.
We will see soon enough how this puzzling new year will turn out.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.