Predicting America’s Political Future

It is easy to predict, with some confidence, a red wave coming in November.   It’s a historical trend, of course.   In addition, the Biden Presidency is struggling and, moreover, inflation will likely still be high in the fall, even if it starts to moderate before then.

But after 2022, things become much murkier.  Who will the Democratic presidential candidate be in 2024?  Will Trump run again?  Lots of things can happen between now and then.

Even though I am an optimist in general about the future of our country, I don’t have any particular insight about how things are going to play out over the coming years.  To have such an insight, in a credible manner, it is necessary to have a framework to base it on.  Here are two individuals who have constructed such frameworks.

  • One of them is Ray Dalio, the successful manager of the hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates.  He predicts that we are likely headed into a new civil war, based on his extensive study of world history.  I am skeptical of this prediction even though it is based on a comprehensive theory that he has constructed. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/principles-for-dealing-with-the-changing-world-order-book-review-ray-dalio-trouble-ahead-as-usual-11637335545)

  • A more compelling framework has been constructed by George Friedman.  He has developed a cyclic theory of American history.  He describes both 80-year institutional cycles and 50-year socio-economic cycles, both of which are coming to a head, i.e. renewing, in the mid to late 2020s. The clashing of these two different cycles, which have renewed separately in the past, is what could cause a storm to occur before the resulting calm.   Of course, things may not happen the way a theory predicts, but still, it’s such an interesting theory that it may have some predictive value.  Mr. Friedman also has a website with frequent postings about ongoing events.

  • My own view. I put value on underlying historical theories in order to construct a framework for predicting the future.  This is why I pay attention to theories like the two I have just outlined above.  But my own prediction is much narrower than theirs.  I think the resolution to our currently divisive and polarized politics will turn out to be more pluralism and decentralization in our political institutions.  In other words, let the blue states and the red states do things their own way (state’s rights) rather than trying to enforce too much national uniformity.  This is already starting to happen.  The red states want to tighten up voting procedures and restrict abortion rights.  Blue states and cities have bigger crime problems and want more restrictions on gun rights.  We should give them more leeway to do as they see fit as long as they are not violating basic constitutional rights.

Conclusion.  The United States has a long and prosperous future to look forward to, but how are broad trends going to play out?  Of course, nobody knows but it still makes sense to try to imagine reasonable courses of action and, then, to do what one can to push things in that direction.

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