It’s 2014. What will it be like in January of 2017?
To answer this question, I think we should look backward to 35 years ago, when it was 1979. Jimmy Carter was president, the multi-ethnic “We are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in seven games, and The Cars were looking pretty darn cool.
But there was something brewing beneath this culturally liberal surface–and what was brewing was conservatism. The fever of liberalism that characterized the 60s and 70s would be broken in the year following 1979, most specifically in November of 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president. It initiated an unmistakably new era in American culture and politics.
And that era will be seen to have run its course when Hillary Clinton is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in January of 2017.
Contemporary conservatism had its Romantic phase with Ronald Reagan, its mature phase with Newt Gingrich in the 90s, and it began its decadent phase with George W. Bush. It is now in its very late decadent phase with the Tea Party. Though the Republican Party will win skirmishes in 2014, I predict that it will, to the surprise of a lot of analysts, under-perform in the November 2014 elections (it will hold the House, but not take the Senate).
This means that in 2015 it will finally dawn on moderate Republicans (insofar as they still exist) that focus on Obamacare was a fatal strategic mistake; a distraction, really. What their party should have focused on, like a laser beam, was moving to the center right, talking-up such issues as women’s equality in the workplace, gay rights, marijuana legalization, and immigration reform–and owning them. They ought to have done this because America is becoming an ever more culturally liberal, ever more feminist, ever more “brown” nation.
America is becoming California.
The contemporary political ballgame, then, is to not suffer the fate of the Republican Party in California over the next two decades; that is, to not become an irrelevant party.
In 2016, unless the Republicans nominate Chris Christie for President, their adjustments in 2015 will be too little, too late. Even Christie may not be able to recalibrate their brand. And absent Christie, the Republican brand will be toast for perhaps a decade or more.
So the crow I predict that contemporary conservatives will start eating in 2017 is this: they will have to live with the fact that they will never again see in the White House a president of the ilk of George W. Bush again (a non-compromising and war-mongering economic and cultural conservative). The next Republican president, if it’s not Christie, will be a woman–sometime in the 2030s–and she will be pro-gay equality, pro-science, pro-ecology, marijuana friendly, pro-choice, pro-universal health coverage, moderate on defense, and only fiscally conservative. She’ll speak Spanish as well as English. And she’ll be inclusive of the “nones” (those who don’t have a religious affiliation). She might even be a vegan. In other words, she’ll be more recognizably like a Californian than a Texan. And she’ll lead a center-right coalition that contemporary Republicans simply do not recognize today as “conservative.”
But as distasteful as this scenario is to today’s Republicans–especially culturally conservative Republicans–America’s irreversible Californication is already happening, and Hillary’s inauguration in January of 2017 will be the moment in which acknowledging this fact will become, quite simply, inescapable. Hillary’s inauguration will signal the end of post-WWII baby boomer trench warfare; the time when the tedious Jacob-wrestle between older conservatives and liberals (Fox News vs. MSNBC) throughout the Obama years finally broke in liberals’ favor. We will have begun the era of “California America.” From that point forward, Millennials, who trend liberal, will be in the driver’s seat; they will be the new deal makers and breakers. It’s what’s coming in 2017. It’s not an especially hard prediction to make, but there it is. That’s my prediction.