To some extent, what follows is an aspirational wish-list, perhaps yet another hope-over-experience exercise:
That since he is unfortunately not inclined to step aside and allow the unusually strong Democratic bench to emerge, President Biden will surface from his 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue redoubt and demonstrate to the public that he has some vigor; that he will raise his voice from time-to-time and let people know he is pissed off about the incessant barrage of vile venom and blatant lies disgorged daily by Donald Trump and the Putin Caucus, formerly known as the Republican Party.
That Biden’s proxies, pretty much a capable crew, will get off their duffs and get out and shout more. There is much to shout about.
That In the absence of Biden seeing the light and emulating LBJ, Democrats might consider temporarily morphing into Republicans long enough during primary season to boost Nikki Haley (her Civil War views notwithstanding) in her otherwise Quixotic attempt to take down Donald Trump. While I disagree with most of what Haley espouses (sometimes hard to pin down because she is often on both sides of an issue), she may be democracy’s only (albeit dim) hope given Biden’s plummeting poll numbers. Half the states (largely “red” ones) allow such cross-over participation.
That Chris Christie will drop out of the presidential sweepstakes soon and endorse Haley.
That the Supreme Court gets on the stick and will quickly issue rulings that (1) put paid to Trump’s desperate and ridiculous claim of presidential immunity excusing his traitorous behavior following the 2020 election, so that the D.C. court can get on with the trial that will hopefully put him in leg irons and an orange jump suit; and (2) uphold the Colorado Supreme Court decree denying him a spot on the ballot because he participated in an insurrection per Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The latter is probably asking too much, but getting rid of this malevolent metastatic malignancy is the highest priority.
That Democrats will put forward exceptional candidates in every competitive district in order to turn the House of Ill Repute into a respectable legislative body committed to governing rather than play-acting.
That the public will understand why it is critical that the U.S. continue to support Ukraine in its existential battle against Putin and his fever dream of reconstituting the old Soviet Union. The Putin Caucus’s appeasement posture is not a good look. Perhaps issuing them umbrellas autographed by Neville Chamberlain would get the message across.
That U.S. support for Israel needs to be close to unequivocal if the only Middle Eastern democracy is to survive. That does not mean, however, that it must eschew all conditions. Behind-the-scenes prodding of our ally to retire Benjamin Netanyahu and his reactionary cronies and replace him with a more moderate—and vigilant—governing crew—should be one of them.
That anti-Semitism in the U.S. will subside so that Jews who finally found a safe haven here will not have to pull up stakes and find a new place of refuge in the 5,000-year diaspora.
That pandering to polluters and climate change deniers needs to stop. The entire structure of COP29 was a bad joke, what with an oil magnate in charge of the climate conference. We can and must do better.
That anti-vaxxers and science-deniers like RFK, Jr. and oh so many Putin Caucus adherents need to be exposed for the charlatans they are. Spewing this nonsense is incredibly harmful to society. Sane politicians, celebrities, influencers and scientists with a national reputation need to use their megaphones and step up to debunk this baloney.
That, hope against hope, the Supreme Court wrong-wingers’ adoption of Clarence Thomas’s and Samuel Alito’s preposterous, cherry-picked “originalism” as the standard by which they will judge constitutional cases will be moderated as the justices age and become more forgetful.
That both parties get serious about our out-of-control federal debt. High interest rates mean that we are now paying interest on our $34 trillion debt equal to the exorbitant amount we allocate to the defense budget, which could be cut by at least a third without losing any military capability.
That taxing all earnings instead of capping Social Security pay-ins at a lower amount would bring in enough to fund the retirement program through the rest of the 21st century. Also, that it’s long past time to increase the retirement age at which Social Security payments begin. It has not changed in 88 years, despite a huge increase in life expectancy.
That it’s also time to revise the federal budget process. It makes no sense to begin planning the next fiscal year’s budget the day after the current FY budget goes into effect. It takes some time to assess budget outcomes. In addition to a saner, two-year budget, the federal budget needs to be divided in two—an expense budget and a capital budget. The way it is and has been makes no sense.
That Congress will finally see the light and get rid of the debt ceiling so that we can avoid periodic government shutdowns.
That the National Rifle Association and the Putin Caucus members who comfortably reside in its deep pockets will disappear so that we can enact sane gun laws.
That the U.S. needs to up its support for centrist parties in other nations. The threat of a 1930s wave of right-wing fascist parties portends very poorly for our collective future. Democracy is worth nurturing both at home and abroad.
That we need some bargaining chips if we are to get back our citizens wrongfully detained in Russia and Iran. Let’s detain some Russians and Iranians.
That some border sanity will emerge. The Putin Caucus yells a lot about the border problem, but for 20 years has refused to vote for immigration reform, even when advanced by a Republican president (see, e.g., George W. Bush) because it is politically advantageous to keep the issue alive without tackling it. Democrats need to wake up, admit this is a problem, and propose rational fixes for it.
That our broken healthcare system will get some necessary overhaul from Congress or, if the political class is incapable of addressing it, from artificial intelligence.
That PEPFAR, the program that provides AIDS cocktails to African nations, one of the two good things George W. Bush did (the Prescription Drug Program being the other), will continue to be funded. To date, it has saved an estimated 25 million African lives
That Harvard, Penn, MIT and the rest of the so-called elite schools will get their act back together in 2024. Harvard fears backlash should it fire its Black woman president who believes “context” determines whether advocating genocide against Jews merits condemnation, or that a new Harvard course on “Taylor Swift and Her World” is where parents want to spend their education dollars.
That K-12 will bring back the humanities, especially history (warts and all), English, literature (contrary to what the extreme left believes, dead white men have much to impart), art and philosophy (we have much to learn from the likes of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietsche, Wittgenstein et al.). A stable democratic society desperately needs this intellectual underpinning.
That unhappy red state teachers intimidated by know-nothing restrictions on what can be taught, imposed by crass vulgarians like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, will take their talents to blue states where academic honesty still exists, and where they can expect much better pay.
That people who provide essential services will be paid what their services are worth. This includes EMTs and caregivers, especially those who care for the elderly and individuals with disabilities, many of whom earn only the minimum wage.
If any of these wishes come to pass, we might be able to look back in a year with at least a smidgen of fondness for auld lang syne.
Happy New Year.
December 29, 2023