Seven Events Clash to Define the Next Decade - In Less Than a Week

This week finds us watching the clash of major events shaping a very uncertain political, economic and cultural future

Publisher’s Riff

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As we head into the month of February, we’re seeing the really remarkable convergence - or clash - of six major events just over the past week that are intersecting into a defining generational-rupturing moment at the top of the new decade. These events are either cultural or political in nature, and they are already accelerating in very real and unpredictably dangerous ways.

1) As the Senate impeachment trial comes to a sobering close, the inevitable acquittal of President Trump will mark an official notarization of the United States as a kleptocracy, with no checks or balances on the Executive Branch. Is it an official end to “democracy?” Some would argue that democracy was only the case for a select group. But, the abilities of Legislative Branch oversight and enforcement are now lost for an indefinite period of time until the outcome of the next election - but, because management of that election will be marred by manipulation, voter suppression, insecure voting systems and voter roll purging, it could be much longer. The Constitution is nothing more than a gilded owner’s manual for a used car.

2) The president gives his State of the Union in the wake of that impeachment acquittal and is widely expected to use the platform as a major public vindication to claim he was always “innocent” - even with a jury he tainted. This will put more official recognition on the end of checks and balances.

3) Monday night’s Iowa Caucus for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary will gives us our first glimpse into what Democratic Party voters are truly focused on: winning the next election and being focused on removing the existential threat to the Republic that is Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell - or just simply offering a very expensive soap box to candidates convinced they are the Chosen One. Iowa caucuses are very unpredictable, as polling prior to is regularly off. Ultimately, the path towards whether or not Trump is reelected begins and that’s a very big deal for a very uncertain future.

4) Brexit happened over the past weekend, the official break of Britain from the European Union. And while that happened thousands of miles away across the Atlantic from the U.S., that it now officially begins speaks to the acceleration of very sophisticated political and economic white nationalist re-alignments happening on both sides of the pond, between the first and fifth largest economies in the world. The ripple effects are enormous while …

5) The fast metastasizing coronavirus continues to grow and stump researchers, reaching well beyond China and showing no signs of containment. China’s stock market indices plunged by 8 percent while U.S. markets bounced back stronger on Monday. But, there is real concern within the World Health Organization that the world is unprepared while this year’s flu season (claiming over 10,000 lives thus far in the U.S.) has been one of the most intense in recent years.

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6) The Super Bowl happened at the top of the week, acting as a cheerleader for that kleptocracy. The league officiating over America’s favorite sports pastime seem to engineer a final-say win in the few years of open cultural war over its treatment of the blackballed Colin Kaepernick and what it represents about American culture. Interestingly enough, a YouGov poll showed a higher percentage of Black adults planned to have tuned in than Whites and Latinos. But, this particular Super Bowl served as an interesting symbolic tone-setting heading deeper into 2020 on that ugly matter of race, a message sent and received. Clever marketing schematics offered the narrative that everything ailing society and the planet can be fixed by empty sustainability goals, organic beer, 5G networks, free hugs and everyone pretending inequality and climate crisis is simply manageable.

7) Meanwhile, Black History Month kicked off with campy Google commercials and more corporate co-optation of what Black history means. This happens at a very dangerous and urgent time for the Black community as the trends outlined above pose real threats, especially heading into an election year. Those observing it must decide whether to celebrate or somberly reflect, whether to understand it as recognition of individual “Black firsts” and achievements or to view it through the language and reality of struggle.