Monday, January 02, 2012

Prognosticating the Politics of 2012

After living through a volatile 2011 (the Arab Spring, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown, Libya, the Occupy Movement, economic uncertainty, etc.) the world might see a 2012 that's just as chaotic and harrowing.  Yet there's much to be thankful for as we begin another year, with the potential for more outbursts of democratic revolution.

via Los Angeles Times
Syria Moving Toward Peace?  
The political will of the people is becoming centralized of late, deciding to go it alone by not allowing a foreign military intervention (ala Libya).  It's exciting to not only see this unity of opposing factions but also the clarity of their purpose, unwilling to be compromised by external forces in pursuing the ouster of Bashar al-Assad.  Who knows if the military will continue their sniper attacks, continuing their assault on the citizens of Syria that's raged since last March or if the Arab League will be able to diplomatically influence what's happening on the ground.  In time, the only ways I see a peaceful resolution to this bloody turmoil is either an overthrow of the Assad regime or long-term economic isolation to the point of Assad conceding.  Neither outcome looks to be on the immediate horizon.

The latest news in Syria, reported just this morning, is that the government has withdrawn their tanks out of the cities and released "3,500 detainees" as a result of "regional initiative" following reports from Arab League observers on the ground who recently withdrew as well.  The evident goal is cease-fire, which has not as of this morning been achieved, yet every positive step in the process is welcome at this point.

   Scary to see how linked our growth is to Europe's...          via American Progress
The Global Economy
In the US, the economy is finally starting to show signs of life with increased growth and lower unemployment of late.  The problem now?  The shoe is on the other foot with economic foreign powers slumping (China, Europe) while we're just starting to get back on our feet.  If the EU debt crisis continues to damage the European markets and/or China's growth continues to slow, it could spell a longer economic recession for everybody and cast further uncertainty on who leads America going forward.  In 2012, I see an increase in American output, a slower yet steady continuance of Chinese growth and a mediocre or even no recovery for the Euro-zone, potentially similar to the slow 2011 recovery here in the US.  ABC News put something out this morning on their projections for the US economy.

China and North Korea 
Will they become further destabilized or instead continue their partnership of citizen oppression, censorship and famine?  If North Korea or China are ever going to trend toward the Democratic changes we've seen in the past year in the Arab states, it'll happen in the next five years.  Though what's been most evident during Kim Jung Un's transition to power is just how strong their Stalinist system is, with those in power enjoying the fruits of their work. Historically, the most successful attempts at toppling a regime have been undertaken during times of transition and in North Korea I see no such weakness.  While the people of China are are gathering and protesting more than they have in recent years, there is no doubting the power their leaders have in suppressing the voices of the people via censorshipjailing human rights lawyers, continued suppression of religion and human rights, with no evidence of their leadership crumbling at this point.

The Occupy Movement
While most of the occupy encampments have been forcibly removed and the cold weather may have frozen out the original notion of a constant physical presence (though there are exceptions), there continues to be a plethora of activity in many of the originally occupying cities.  The most exciting recent actions have included the West Coast port shutdown, the Minnesota house occupations and just this morning, the march that concluded the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.  I don't see the Occupy Movement abating anytime soon, expecting it to only gather more steam as the weather gets better this Spring.

via CBS News

The Caucuses and Primaries  
Romney will most likely capture a majority of the state-by-state contests, with Paul and Gingrich possibly picking up a couple and Perry potentially snagging one or two himself.  It's pretty tough to project considering the volatility of the electorate, as evidenced by their mad Fall campaigns, the diversity of the states and the huge fluctuations in polling.  I see Romney winning a long battle (reminiscent of the long primary season between Clinton and Obama in '08), ultimately ending with Romney losing by a greater margin in the general election than McCain did to Obama in 2008.  Below is the most recent poll of polls from Real Clear Politics:

People get so wrapped up in polling and the excitement the traditional horse race handicapping of candidates that they often miss the simplicity of how determining a projected winner can be.  Please take a look at Allan Lichtman's Keys to the White House method of prediction.  He's accurately predicted 7 of the last 7 presidential elections based on his thirteen criteria. He had a great debate earlier last year with Nate Silver and this year he's predicting a victory for President Obama.  I see no reason to doubt his method at this point, unless the economy takes a drastic turn for the worse.

For more political and cultural commentary, stop by Auspicious Scuttlebutt, as I'll be covering the coming primaries and caucuses, plus in-depth looks at each of the remaining candidates.

Hope your 2012 is filled with joy and prosperity!