The year 2010 is just a few days old, but already promises to be full of drama. Here are my predictions for the political headlines of the year to come. If they don’t come true, don’t hate!
READ PREDICTIONS 1-5 HERE.
6. The American Backlash Abroad
The “aughts” were defined by a radical restructuring of the world order. In 2010, the fall of the Berlin Wall comes of drinking age, the G8 is now the G20, and the unipolar world dominated by the United States is being remade by powerful economies in unexpected, emerging markets. Even as the world thrills to the idea of Barack Obama’s presidency, the United States will spend 2010 reaping the global problems, from war to banking crises to climate change, that it helped sow—and even Obama can’t prevent the coming backlash. The American wars that require NATO support will continue to strain the resources of foreign powers, while major humanitarian concerns, such as the lead-up to a referendum in Sudanese partition, will not receive adequate American attention. Major developing economies such as India, China and Brazil may break with the United States for its empty moralizing on climate change. And at some point, the human rights violations Obama is overlooking at home, as well as in undemocratic nations like China and Russia are going to erode his moral authority.
As the United States struggles to stay astride world public opinion, one relationship to watch is the dance between China and Africa, as well as the rise of Brazil as the most popular kid in the hemisphere. Other powers to watch in the new world order include G20 second stringers Australia, South Africa, Turkey and Mexico.
7. Guantanamo Stays Open, but Cuba Goes Free
One of the key promises President Obama made immediately after taking office was to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay that housed and mistreated some 300 suspected terrorists during the Bush years. Attorney General Eric Holder has called Guantanamo “an embarrassment”—but between logistical woes and Republican demagoguery on where suspects can be safely transferred, scores of Bush-era detainees are still on the island. Further, the White House’s system of categorizing detainees virtually guarantees that some “Category 5” detainees who cannot be tried in either federal or military courts will stay at Gitmo through the end of 2010.
On the flip side of the island that houses the U.S. military complex, Fidel and Raul Castro are entering their 50th year of joint rule. Cracks have appeared in the absurd, if untouchable American trade and travel embargo on Cuba—in place since 1960. Though Obama renewed the embargo in September, 2010 should be the year when pressure from American businesses seeking a new market forces a change in policy, the Castros throw in the towel—and the wall finally tumbles down.
8. The CBC Consolidates Its Power
The 111th U.S. Congress has the largest number of black representatives in history—and despite the black president down on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Congressional Black Caucus has started to flex its muscle. After months of ineffective statements and condemnations of House action on health care, military spending and the economy, the CBC notched a major victory during debate over the December financial regulatory reform bill, playing hardball for an additional $4 billion targeted at black America. This victory should give the 42-member caucus—rather like the “Blue Dog” Democrats that have been so influential in the major debates since 2006—added clout and confidence. What’s more, many CBC members come from relatively safe districts, meaning they will be more likely than the average House Democrat to gain seniority in the 112th Congress. This doesn’t mean that they’ll succeed in lobbying the White House out of Afghanistan, but, if all goes according to plan for retiring CBC member Artur Davis, a black man will be running the state of Alabama.
9. The U.S. Headcount Hits 320 Million
That’s a ballpark figure—but so is the milestone 300 million-resident mark announced with great fanfare in 2006. The final outcome of the 2010 census will not be fully unpacked until 2013—but promises to be a joyride for political enthusiasts and culture watchers alike. It’s the first time Asian Americans can identify specifically as Indian or Japanese. Key questions to be answered: Will Americans of Hispanic origin live up to the demographic growth that has been projected for years? Will immigrants of all stripes show up and be counted (some 3.3 million were left out in 2000)? Will the box marked “white” be good enough for Arab Americans, Spaniards and the like?
The raw numbers will provide a framework for redistricting and federal funding decisions, which in turn will determine the shape and well-being of the American electorate. The theory of an “Emerging Democratic Majority” made up of faces of color could be proven right once and for all—giving blacks and Latinos additional political power beginning in 2010. The key thing is to pull it off: If you thought that the political jockeying and wild cries of voter fraud were unbearable during a typical election year, imagine the chaos that will greet this high-stakes headcount.
10. Health Care Reform Signed Into Law
What? You thought we got that done? The Senate version passed on Christmas Eve will need to be modified, and if we’re lucky, strengthened during a conference committee meeting with House leadership. Things to look for as the compromise unfolds: how the individual mandate will work, when the bill kicks into effect (2013 or 2014), and most importantly, how to pay for it all.
Dayo Olopade is Washington reporter for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.