The new year has arrived and change is in the air. To kick things off, let’s take a moment to imagine what we can look forward to:
- A broad shift toward center-left socio-political values
After George W. Bush took office in 2000, we saw a societal shift toward right and far right values. We can expect a similar shift back to a more comfortable center-left after Barack Obama takes office on January 20. The hopes of many core Obama campaign activists for a full shift to left and progressive left, however, may not happen. At least not without sustained grassroots efforts toward progressive causes. Our media is likely to stop placating the Right by interviewing excessive numbers of right-wing extremists disguised as “experts.”
- Concentrated focus on ecological sustainability
Over the last two years, sustainability and combating climate change gained greater popular attention in the media and in corporate and nonprofit boardrooms. In 2009, anti-strategic Republican rhetoric of “Global Warming isn’t real” will officially end and the world will prepare to agree to a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15). Obama’s selections of scientists John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco to his administration gives the U.S. the potential to present genuinely helpful solutions and position our country as a leader in carbon neutrality policy. If we’re lucky, we’ll hear Barack Obama announce a plan modeled after the JFK’s Apollo Program to combat climate change and develop renewable energy within the first half of the year.
- The advent of redefining success in economics and adapting steady-state thinking
The recession of 2008 is likely to continue through 2009 and into 2010. We will probably see a range of responses from the U.S. federal government, corporate beggars and international financial orgs (WTO, IMF, etc.) to shock into health the dying heart of the Global Economy. After a year of struggle, and a number of half-failed attempts at resuscitation, the economic powers that be may become ready to replace “growth-is-the-only-good” economics with more sustainable, steady-state concepts.
- “Fixing healthcare” conversations a plenty
Obama promised healthcare reform in his campaign for president, and is likely to attempt a delivery. Watch out for the influence of HMO-creators Blackhole Thinktank, who will surely chime in on the discussion (as they always do) with distractions about better tech for tracking medical records, increased cost-based competition amongst providers, and “economic disincentives” for consumers to keep them from “going to the doctor too much.” Many a Democrat and Republican in serving in Congress will favor the approach of “let’s just change this tiny little detail that won’t help anyone.” All of the “static and groundnoise” could dissuade the Obama Administration from moving toward the only healthcare system proven by demonstration to reduce costs and provide access to everyone — the Universal Single-Payer model. If we implemented it like they did in Taiwan, and spent even 30 percent less per capita than we do in our current private system, our system would actually become the envy of the world (instead of the laughing stock) and provide our small businesses some budgetary relief.
- Electoral victories for progressives local elected officials
Attention moves from the big show billion-dollar presidential campaigns to the nano-scopic local municipal campaigns run on shoestring budgets. If even a sliver of our newly empowered “Yes We Can” voters engaged in city council and mayoral elections by running, supporting progressive candidates and voting in droves, a number of less-than-progressive to centrist local elected officials could be replaced by left-of-center to progressive ones. In Minneapolis, the candidates to support thus far are Cam Gordon (Ward 2) and Kevin Reich (Ward 1). My own ward, Ward 3, is in dire need of an upgrade, but no one has stepped forward.
- Agricultural reforms favoring organic production and local distribution
Even big-box grocers like Cub and Rainbow have certified Organic sections in their stores now (although you won’t find free range eggs for under $3.50 in them). Co-op members, the eco-friendly set, and the Québécois are getting into “Localtarianism” in pursuit of carbon neutrality. And, a growing chorus of writers are dissecting U.S. Ag policy, drawing attention to the parts that only benefit big industry. Pressure for food policy reform may mount in 2009, hopefully resulting in new federal and state food policies leading us toward a more nutricious and sustainable food future.
- Social networking becomes more mainstream and the average age of Facebook users continues to increase
Anyone notice the influx of older people into Facebook? It’s hard to miss when you’re one of them! As 2009 starts, Facebook is the new and exciting thing for 30- and 40-somethings (even bigger than Friendster or LiveJournal!) and old hat to the 20-somethings who were its inaugural users. As the year advances, this five-year-old company will see its user demographics skew even older. By the end of the year, it will be the hot thing for 50- and 60-somethings. However, the service’s popularity will continue to rely heaveily on the oldest social “application” on the Internet — email.
These are my predictions for 2009. Leave a comment to share your own!