Politics & Policy

What Happens in 2015?

Predictions.

Making predictions for the new year is a longtime National Review Online year-end tradition. Here’s 2015 . . . 

 

Hunter Baker

Corinthian Colleges fell in 2014. Expect more for-profit higher-education providers to go the same route in 2015, or at least in the near future. It’s good strategy to be one of a handful of online providers, but the plan falls apart when the traditional players (like practically all the major state universities) enter the game.

Jeb Bush will continue to absorb abuse from conservatives, but he isn’t Mitt Romney and doesn’t have a record like Mitt’s. (Jeb never was pro-choice, never engaged in ambitious social engineering of health care, and won his swing state twice.) I predict he’ll begin to win over a larger portion of the base this year as they see and hear more from him. I’m not the only observer to think he is the strongest Bush despite not having been president.

The Affordable Care Act will begin to break down under its own weight as providers and hospitals find its dictates overly burdensome, complex, and sometimes illogical. Reform will occur organically, in response to the misery generated by its implementation, more than it will be driven by conservative ideology.

The NFL postseason will be one of the best in recent memory and will help erase the disastrous memories of 2014’s NFL crimes, disciplinary problems, and ham-fisted league responses.

— Hunter Baker is a professor at Union University and the author of The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life.

 

Rachel Campos-Duffy

Obama’s favorability with Hispanics continues to erode. Economic woes trump executive action on immigration. On a related note, liberal dreams of turning Texas purple slip farther away, despite efforts and investments by Eva Longoria and the Latino Victory Project.

Students continue to protest federal mandates on school lunches — an encouraging sign that in spite of liberal indoctrination in our public-school system, personal liberty and limited government are still alive and kicking in America’s youth. The White House is frustrated that efforts to bolster the First Lady’s image with young people through countless appearances on Nickelodeon and popular sitcoms can’t stymie the #thanksMichelleObama Twitter campaign.

More Jonathan Gruber videos surface. As Obamacare implementation continues to roll out, its negative consequences bring more attention to Gruber’s words and the lies told to the American people to pass the Affordable Care Act.

The Democrats’ blue/green alliance continues to fracture as union Democrats reject radical environmentalists’ job-killing agenda and look to the GOP to grow the economy and their paychecks.

Democratic female lawmakers and feminist groups like NOW lose all credibility for not giving voice to the victims of Muslim misogyny — especially the horrifying actions of ISIS against women. Forced sex slavery, genital mutilation, gruesome executions, and barbaric acts against children make Sandra Fluke’s “free contraception” campaign look downright silly.

Rosie and Whoopi’s spats on The View continue to escalate until Whoopi finally leaves the show in an epic on-air fight. The View undergoes yet another shake-up but remains committed to keeping a “conservative” host who bashes conservatives and the GOP.

Rachel Campos-Duffy is national spokesperson for The LIBRE Initiative.

David French

In politics, within three weeks after Hillary begins her formal campaign for president, Democrat activists will remember why they were so taken with a junior senator from Illinois back in 2008. For Democrats, Hillary in theory is better than Hillary in reality.

In entertainment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the best thing to happen to Hollywood since The Empire Strikes Back, and the sin of Jar Jar Binks will almost be atoned for. Almost.

In literature, George R. R. Martin will not release Winds of Winter, his eagerly awaited sixth novel in the Game of Thrones series. This will lead to measurable increases in the rates of depression in the sci-fi/fantasy community.

In the only sport that truly matters — basketball — the University of Kentucky Wildcats will sweep the season, win the championship, and go down in history as the greatest college basketball team ever to take the court. In the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies will shock the NBA and “grit and grind” their way to a seven-game Finals victory over the Chicago Bulls. Full disclosure: I grew up in Kentucky and live in Tennessee.

Saving the worst for last, the nastiness of the Republican primary — even before the first votes — will make conservatives long for the relative unity of January 2012, and it just might cost Republicans the presidency.

Happy New Year!

— David French is a senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice.

 

JONAH GOLDBERG

The conservative base of the GOP will be split among a half-dozen “true conservative” candidates, leaving the establishment candidate much stronger than he would have been if the base could have rallied around a single candidate. This prediction will hold true in 2016, just as it did in nearly every election year since 1944 (save 1964 and 1980).

The foreign-policy lessons of 2014 will be applied in 2015. That means there will be more asymmetric attacks on the U.S. — hostage takings, hackings, vague “lone wolf” terror attacks. Falling short of a provocation to war and benefiting from plausible deniability, these death-by-a-thousand-cuts assaults will make Americans feel even more insecure.

Vladimir Putin, desperate to change the subject from the faltering Russian economy, will either stage a domestic terrorism event or prompt new hostilities in his “near abroad.”

The economy will continue to grow, prompting the Fed to do something that half the really smart people I know will say is bad and the other half will say is good.

The Obama administration will strike a deal with Iran. No one will believe it will stop Iran from getting a bomb, though many will say it will.

For these and other reasons, Rand Paul will struggle mightily to win over voters concerned with his foreign-policy views. Many libertarians will express dismay with Paul’s newfound “neoconservatism.”

There will be a push from the left to have Obama give Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba as a way to shut the place down.

There will be too much magic in the new season of Game of Thrones.

Elizabeth Warren won’t run for president, but a new meme will emerge that this is bad for Hillary because she needs someone to her left to triangulate off of.

I will almost lose the last 25 pounds I’d like to drop.

I will be very cranky because I will be writing a new book.

My dog will catch a critter she is not emotionally equipped to deal with.

My “news”letter, The Goldberg File, will include more gerunds than ever.

In December of 2015, I will be more enthusiastic about making predictions than I was in 2014.

— Jonah Goldberg is senior editor of National Review and author of The Tyranny of Clichés.

SAMUEL GREGG

I spend a great deal of time trying to avoid making predictions about what’s likely to happen over the next week, let alone the next year. Here, however, is some crystal-ball gazing that I don’t consider too outlandish.

First, the EU’s economic crisis will continue, for the simple reason that the fundamentals driving its current problems — the refusal to implement meaningful economic reform, the clinging to redundant corporatist structures in the name of a faux solidarity, a political class who couldn’t even begin to imagine that maybe, just maybe, they are a major part of the problem, etc. — will be as firmly in place in December 2015 as they are today.

Second, Vladimir Putin will keep getting his way in Ukraine and elsewhere because Western leaders who have difficulty acknowledging economic realities on their own turf are just as ill at ease dealing with the reality to their east.

Third, the persecution, robbery, torture, and killing of hundreds of thousands of Christians will continue unabated in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The West will do nothing meaningful to address the problem, except to go on and on and on and on about “dialogue,” how all cultures and religions are basically the same, let’s not be judgmental, can’t we all just get along, and . . . well, you know the drill.

Fourth, Iran will grow ever closer to getting the nuclear capabilities desired by its leadership. Related to this, Iran’s good friend Hamas will continue trying to launch attacks on a sovereign state that, for some strange reason, will be condemned for defending itself. By the way, watch as anti-Semitism in Europe becomes even more respectable, especially on the Left.

Fifth, Argentina will sink even lower on every single one of the Index of Economic Freedom rankings. President Cristina Kirchner (and plenty of her fellow citizens) will carry on blaming diabolical “neoliberals” and evil Western hedge funds for her nation’s plight. Madame President, however, will be gone by the end of 2015 because she can’t run for a third term. Naturally, there’s always the possibility that Cristina could do what every other Latin American leftist-populist head of state does: pull a Chávez/Ortega and get the constitution amended. Watch this space . . . 

Sixth, President Barack Obama will not win the Nobel Peace Prize, not even for the aspirational or empathetic reasons that matter so much to your average lefty Norwegian.

Seventh, everyone’s favorite newscaster, Ron Burgundy, will return in Anchorman 3: You’ll Never Be Rid of Me — unless, of course, the script includes a reference to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in which case both the script and Ron Burgundy are doomed. Not so classy, Kim Jong Un.

Oh, one last thing: The expression “awesome” will increase its share of all words spoken by English-language speakers from 57 percent to just under 68 percent.

— Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute and the author of Becoming Europe.

 

HUGH HEWITT

With the Norks in control, Hollywood is going to have a very bad year, and their messing with the electric grid just once will cause a panic, but other than that I’ll limit my crystal ball to domestic politics:

James Webb is going to do very, very well in his guerrilla campaign for the presidency. There are a great many “Born Fighting” Democrats left in the country.

The Jeb Bush–Chris Christie competition for donors and backers will get edgy. Mitt Romney will preserve his options against the possibility that they bleed each other out in prolonged combat.

Rand Paul will peak but not decline, with a steady 15 percent across every GOP poll, representing a must-be-addressed, not-going-anywhere constituency.

Ted Cruz will increasingly benefit from his massive e-mail list and deep social-media banyan tree of contacts and become the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, especially as states rush to grab a spot (and the campaign dollars) from the March 1 (proportional allocation of delegates) or March 15 (winner-take-all allocation of delegates) dates in the 2016 primaries by changing their laws to move up to one of those two.

John Kasich, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry will tour the country in a “three governors who could and did govern” presentation designed to help all against the Cruz tide.

Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell will follow up early passage of a Keystone bill with five other stand-alone statutes. After Keystone will come a bill imposing new and tougher sanctions on Iran. The next will be designed to ensure that the Guantanamo detention facility will not be closed, or the entire base vacated and then returned by executive order to Cuba. (The law can accomplish that by mandating minimum force levels there.) A third bill will provide indemnification for the legal bills of any American or ally of America hauled before the International Criminal Court as a result of the release of the Senate report on interrogation and detention. A fourth early bill will end the medical-device tax, and a fifth will end the “risk corridors.” All will pass, but all will be vetoed. By the end of this sequence, the budget will be hammered out and passed and the appropriations bills will march to the president’s desk, festooned with riders.

The MSM will resolutely refuse to ask Hillary specific repeated questions on any of these bills, or any subject whatsoever, in her carefully choreographed endless loop of Charlie Rose, Thomas Friedman, Terri Gross, Brian Williams, and Scott Pelly interviews.

The first of nine GOP-sponsored primary debates will be held in September. All will feature at least a plurality of center-right journalists/columnists/public intellectuals and be co-moderated by a known conservative and an MSMer, thus ensuring fairness and the best debate cycle ever. The candidates will have to use stadium seating. Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson will be on the stage.

Even though he is neither “out” nor all the way in, Mitt Romney will decline to participate in the debates, saying, “Voters know I can debate and they know me. I’ll watch.” He will also give high-profile interviews the night of or day after each debate.

The Mike Murphy–Karl Rove relationship re Team Jeb will be the most remarked-upon in politics.

Back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships by the Cavs-Tribe-Browns-Cavs will put Cleveland in a great mood for a wonderful 2016 convention.

— Hugh Hewitt is host of The Hugh Hewitt Show.

 

JOHN J. MILLER

President Obama will veto a Keystone XL pipeline bill.

Won’t run for president: Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren.

Will run for president, and show strength in Iowa: Mike Huckabee.

Harry Reid will say he’s not seeking reelection.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will announce her retirement.

Because a boy can dream: The Detroit Lions will win the Super Bowl, the Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup, and the Detroit Tigers will win the World Series.

— John J. Miller is national correspondent for National Review, director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, and the author of The First Assassin.

 

John J. Pitney Jr.

My predictions are about predictions.

In the markets, people are going to bet that prices will go up or down, and many of them will lose money. Commodity markets are especially risky, unless you are Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In politics, there will be many confident forecasts about the 2016 election. Most of them will be wildly wrong. A few will be right — not because of any superior insight on the part of the forecasters, but purely by chance. The outcome of the election will hinge on the state of the economy, which nobody can foresee that far in advance. (See the previous prediction.)

Also in politics, pundits will frequently tell us that internal divisions or tactical missteps portend the imminent death of the Republican party. There were a number of such predictions just over a year ago, and they are quite amusing to read today.

Finally, a number of authors will make money publishing books about the large-scale trends that will shape the future of society, technology, and everyday life. Most of these predictions will prove false, but by that time, everyone will have forgotten them. (Note to self: You’ve got to get in on this scam. In a few years, the kids will be in college and you’ll have tuition to pay.)

— John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

 

Dennis Prager

More and more universities will officially sponsor a “Sex Week” on campus — and then declare that their university is in the grip of a “Rape Culture.”

After a violent incident between Mexican police and Guatemalans seeking to enter Mexico illegally, the United Nations will condemn Israel.

Anti-smoking groups will announce that studies now show that third-hand smoke kills.

In Massachusetts, fans who boo opposing teams will be evicted for creating a hostile work environment.

In New York State, it will be illegal for parents to impose a gender identity on their newborn children.

At Columbia University, males will be required to receive written consent prior to engaging in physical contact with a female. The permission will have to be notarized, and the notary will have to be a female, preferably transgendered.

Sometime in October, President Obama will give his first address since becoming president in which he does not invoke straw men.

Sony Films will announce that the only villains henceforth permitted in its films will be American businessmen and Christian clergy.

— Dennis Prager is host of The Dennis Prager Show and author of Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.

 

Jay W. Richards

I have always been squeamish about predicting the outcomes of events over which I have no control, but what the heck? Here are a few safe predictions, some of which I hope come to pass and others that I hope are dead wrong.

In 2015,

1. We won’t reach peak oil.

2. We won’t experience unprecedented global warming.

3. The dollar won’t be dumped as a global reserve currency, even though the federal government will continue to act in ways that will ultimately devalue the dollar.

4. Republicans will mostly squander their congressional majorities.

5. The Middle East will become even more unstable.

6. Under the banner of expanding freedom, universities and local, state, and federal governments will expand their assault on Americans’ religious freedom.

7. Most of the mainstream media will misrepresent the Ordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican in October.

8. After much turmoil and palace intrigue, the Catholic Church will clearly reaffirm its perennial teachings on marriage, divorce, and homosexuality.

9. Many more faithful Catholics and Evangelicals will realize that they have much in common, and much to lose by failing to work together.

— Jay W. Richards is an assistant research professor in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America and co-author with Jonathan Witt of The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that Tolkien Got and the West Forgot. Follow him on twitter @freemarketjay.

 

Elizabeth Scalia

Citing illness, possibly autoimmune, Hillary Clinton will announce that she will not seek the presidency.

Upon that announcement, the U.S. news media will relax its “War on Women” and “Rape Culture” narratives in order to emphasize the need for populist economic policies, which will buoy up Elizabeth Warren.

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez will be seriously talked up as “vice-presidential material” until someone seriously asks, “Why not presidential?” The fake “war on women” narrative currently dogging the GOP will then become a rather real one.

Following the Clinton example of 2000, an exploratory team will look at the possibility of Michelle Obama’s seeking a Senate seat, from either California or Hawaii. Not from Illinois.

Interest rates will rise, and by midsummer we’ll have real talk of inflation.

Some Evangelical churches, disillusioned with politics, will turn away from ideological processes and begin a cooperative pooling of resources to better serve society through “the gospel, not the government.” The USCCB will join these efforts, taking advantage of an opportunity to promote Christian unity and to better model the concept of subsidiarity.

Those trying to fit Pope Francis to their agenda, or claim him for their preferred narrative, will be confounded throughout 2015 as his pontificate becomes an even greater reflection of gospel values.

I will get a dog, probably a Border collie/German shepherd mix.

— Elizabeth Scalia is the author of Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life and managing editor at Patheos.com, where she blogs as The Anchoress.

James Sherk

At least one state and possibly more will pass right-to-work laws.

Local governments in several states will also pass right-to-work ordinances. Liberals will not commend them for acting when their legislatures would not.

The Obamacare employer mandate takes effect on January 1 for most businesses. I predict this will cause enough businesses to cut their employees’ hours to part-time that it will appear in the national employment statistics.

Unemployment will continue to fall modestly, but the proportion of Americans stuck in long-term unemployment will remain painfully and abnormally high.

Labor-force participation will also continue to decline.

Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for the presidency. Elizabeth Warren will not.

— James Sherk is senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation.

 

Andrew Stuttaford

It’s the time for predictions again, and so, as always, it’s time for a little seasonal foreboding.

Elizabeth Warren is going to run for president, and by the end of the year she will have thrown her headdress into the ring. The key to a Hillary nomination is a sense of inevitability, but that’s also her biggest vulnerability; The Left has tired of the Clintons, and doesn’t like triangulation. They also believe that Warren could make it all the way to the White House. And so, I believe, does she.

As for the GOP, there will be no clear frontrunner by the end of 2015. The party will spend a great deal of time and electoral capital debating immigration “reform” when a simple “no thanks” would do. Meanwhile the Republicans’ other efforts in Congress will be regularly denounced in the media for “obstructionism.” Any presidential vetoes will, of course, be hailed as last-minute victories for common sense. There will be regular calls for that Republican surrender better known as bipartisanship.

Various forms of pot legalization will weave their way across the states, while regulators do their best to make things difficult for e-cigarettes. The fact that vaping saves lives will continue to count for little.

The U.S. economy will improve, but commentators will continue to be surprised at the stubbornness of structural unemployment and the slow pace of wage increases. Too few will point to the contribution made to this unhappy state of affairs by rising automation and a rising population.

Internationally, there will be a good number of unwelcome survivors. The euro will endure, sapping Europe’s economy and trashing its democracy for another miserable year. Unless the Grim Reaper comes calling, Raul Castro will hang on to power (Obama’s just made that a bit easier) and so will Maduro in Venezuela, the mullahs in Iran, ISIS, Kim the conqueror of Sony, and, despite the ruble’s troubles, Vladimir Putin too. Partly to ensure that result, Putin will keep gnawing on Ukraine’s eastern flank while pressing and provoking in the Baltic, hardest perhaps in Latvia, probably the most vulnerable of the Baltic trio.

In the U.K., the Conservative-led coalition will lose the May election, to be replaced by a minority Labour government that will rule with the support of the Scottish Nationalists, thus ensuring that Scottish independence remains on the agenda. That is not an issue that has gone away. UKIP, meanwhile, will win a respectable number of votes but just a handful of parliamentary seats. David Cameron will stand down as Tory leader after his defeat and will be replaced by Boris Johnson, the current mayor of London.

My wild-card prediction? Turner Classic Movies will show Inchon, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, and Retreat, Hell! in a continuous loop on April 15, Tax Day and the 103rd birthday of the late Kim Il Sung.

— Andrew Stuttaford is a longtime contributor to National Review and National Review Online.

 

Hilary Towers

In the wake of the 2014 Synod on marriage, in which the need for a consensus among the Church hierarchy on practical ways to revive marriage was (perhaps clumsily) revealed, the Catholic Church around the world is going to turn its full attention to the encouragement and fostering of loving, faithful, lifelong marriages.

To the consternation of a few, but the sheer delight and hope of many, Catholic leaders and Protestant evangelicals like Reverend Rick Warren, Dr. Russell Moore, and Drs. Eugene and Jacqueline Rivers are going to solidify, strengthen, and begin to put into action their shared vision of a marriage revival across the globe.

Hilary Towers is a developmental psychologist and mother of five whose work focuses on marriage and parenting.

 

John Yoo

I recently had a lunch with the leading conservatives in the Bay Area — all five of us — to come up with some predictions:

1. In 2015, Jerry Brown will vacation in Cuba.

2. In 2015, Fidel Castro will vacation in Florida.

3. Jeb Bush will become the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, with Rand Paul a close second. Republican insiders will urge a Bush-Paul ticket to unify the party.

4. The Supreme Court will enforce Obamacare as written in the Halbig v. Burwell case, which will end federal subsidies for health insurance in states with no insurance exchanges. Obamacare will be thrown into turmoil as President Obama refuses to accept any compromises on a repair bill.

5. The Supreme Court will find that state bans on gay marriage violate the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Justice Anthony Kennedy will provide the fifth vote alongside the four liberal justices.

6. Iran will refuse to end its nuclear-weapons program, but President Obama will sign an agreement that lifts U.S. sanctions and normalizes relations anyway. Iran may superficially agree to give up nuclear weapons, but there will be no serious monitoring or sanctions to stop it.

— John Yoo is Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

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