Sweet Dream Scenario: As Vice-President Mike Pence is being sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States - following Trump's sudden resignation - he suffers a massive heart attack and dies. His constitutionally designated successor is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. By a strange twist of fate, the United States of America gets its first female president after all.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE is a mug’s game. If it could be done, then gambling would be impossible and stockmarkets would crash. Not that these and a host of equally strong objections ever prevented professional seers from giving us the benefit of their prognostications. Some of them, by the simple law of averages, will be correct. Most, however, will not. This is because, as a wise woman once said: “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
In that spirit, allow me to describe the coming year as it might look – if we get lucky.
If we get lucky, then Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will present a report which damns President Donald Trump in ways unanticipated in even his worst nightmares. Republican and Democratic legislators, alike, conclude that his continuing occupation of the White House has become untenable.
Congressional leaders privately inform the President that there is more than enough support in both the House and the Senate to secure his impeachment. The President reaches for his cell-phone – only to discover that the Deep State has prevailed upon Twitter to shut down his account. Realising that the jig is up, the President resigns.
As Vice-President Mike Pence is being sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States he suffers a massive heart attack and dies. His constitutionally designated successor is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. By a strange twist of fate, the United States of America gets its first female president after all.
If we get lucky, then the House of Commons decisively rejects Theresa May’s Brexit Deal. Defeated and exhausted, the Prime Minister advises the Queen to dissolve Parliament and call an early General Election. May then resigns.
A Special Conference of the Labour Party votes decisively in favour of making a Second Brexit Referendum the centrepiece of its election manifesto.
With the Conservatives torn by all manner of political and personal conflicts, Labour cruises to a landslide victory. For the first time in forty years, the United Kingdom has a socialist prime minister and an unashamedly left-wing government. The Second Referendum records upwards of 60 percent of Britons opting to remain in the European Union.
If we get lucky, then the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, negotiates a general peace settlement and mutual defence pact involving Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. The Kurds secure regional autonomy within the Syrian state, guaranteed by the Russian Federation.
If we get lucky, then the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, fearful that President Xi Jinping is about to launch a massive purge of senior party cadres, deposes him. A hastily-summoned National People’s Congress, in a climate of unprecedented independence, elects a moderate reformer as Xi’s successor.
If we get lucky, then the National Party responds to a sharp decline in public support by jettisoning its current leader, Simon Bridges, and replacing him with Judith Collins. The choice of Collins is itself a reaction to the rapid rise of the right-wing populist New Conservative Party. Collins, it is hoped, will staunch the flow of National support to the NCP.
Appalled by this dramatic shift to the far-right, thousands of moderate National Party supporters swing in behind NZ First and Labour, lifting their combined support to nearly 60 percent of voters.
The Coalition Government, buoyed by this sudden shift in its fortunes, decides to reject the Tax Working Group’s recommendation favouring the imposition of a Capital Gains Tax. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is persuaded by Winston Peters that such a tax would turn every farmer, small business owner and landlord in the country into her personal enemy. Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, resigns in protest. Jacinda replaces him with David Parker.
If we get really lucky, then the leadership changes in the USA, the UK and China produce a sudden and radical shift in the global approach to anthropogenic global warming. Rather than relying on yet another international conference, the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council meet in secret and thrash out a concrete plan for keeping the planet’s remaining reserves of oil and gas in the ground while they co-ordinate a planet-wide “Green New Deal”.
According to the wise, the only sure thing about luck is that it changes.
I’m counting on that being true.
This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 4 January 2019.