First, the conditions that underlie my scenario:
- Nothing of any significance will occur nationally or socially to improve Obama's popularity between now and the 2012 election. The approval rating bump he got from killing Bin Laden and the one he'll get by pulling the troops out of Iraq won't last long enough to push him anywhere near 50%.
- The Democrats will only grudgingly support Obama in 2012. He's lost a lot of favor with Democrats over failed promises and his ineffectiveness in standing up against Republicans. I see a change in vice-presidential running mate in 2012 but don't see a possible candidate for the job that would assure a Democratic victory at the polls.
- By the end of 2011 a clear leader will emerge from the pack of Republican candidates that most if not all Republicans can support.
- The Tea Party and "Occupy" movement will both remain marginalized and won't have a real impact on the presidential race.
In 2012 the Republican candidate will win the presidency. I think this will happen due in part to Democratic apathy over Obama's presidency and the Republican's appeal to God, patriotism and financial stability, all of which resonate with the majority of voters right now. Specific plans for improvement won't be forthcoming, but that will be excused in 2012 for the same reason they were in 2008; Any change from the current situation has to be better than imagining a continuation of our current economic and social problems.
A more fundamental form of Christianity will flourish under the new administration. Science, especially in education, will be less emphasized and more effort will be put into integrating Christian dogma and principles into government and education. The concept of a separation between church and state will largely be ignored solely in favor of Christianity.
Conservatism will be the rule in economics and policy making, except in the case of military expansion. Entire federal departments will be eliminated or under-funded into non-existence in an effort to save the federal budget, with little or no thought as to how vital programs to millions will continue.
Abortion will once again be outlawed in most if not all cases. Most if not all wildlife areas and national parks will be opened to resource exploitation. Little or no effort will be put into weaning Americans off their dependency on oil. Instead new oil deposits will be sought and/or new alliances to obtain foreign oil will be created.
The economy will slightly improve for just enough Americans for the government to take credit for having stopped our decline into economic disaster. Thanks primarily to efforts to reduce the role of legislation in our lives, the same industries that created the problem in the first place will continue to conduct their businesses unregulated and unhampered. Fewer rules will be imposed on businesses, so wages will decrease and part-time work will prevail. Benefits will be available for only those few full-time jobs that remain. Profits will still be banked off-shore and even larger tax breaks will be given to big businesses. America will shift from being a nation "of the people, by the people, for the people" to one "of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations".
Individual liberties will continue to erode. The threat of foreign and domestic terrorism will continue to be used as an excuse to employ tighter controls on the activities and movements of the citizens. The underlying xenophobia in the immigration issue will be used to excuse law enforcement from observing search-and-seizure laws and ignore the need for warrants. With the practices of Abu Ghraib as precedent, arrests and detainment without cause and without due process will be allowed in "certain" cases, and slowly expanded to any case in which the local, state or federal government can claim just cause, even secretly. Privacy will lessen to the point of non-existence. Phone and Internet traffic will all be routinely monitored, though it will still be nearly impossible for any government agency to properly assess the intelligence gathered as there will simply be too much to sort out. Key words will become the favored tool of the monitors and citizens will learn not to use certain words at all, just as we've learned how foolish it is to joke about hijacking a plane in the airport.
Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will be abolished as too expensive. Seniors will become a huge burden on society and many families will go broke trying to care for their elders. College tuitions will increase resulting in most middle and lower income class kids not attending college. Families will have to deal with stay-at-home kids in addition to caring for their parents and grandparents. The personal option of elective euthanasia will not be a legal alternative for the elderly.
During this period the Democrats will remain largely ineffective in saving vital social services, protecting the rights of citizens or in improving the economy. They will continue to lack the resolve and power to challenge the Republicans on almost every issue. They will snipe and complain, but that's about all they'll do.
The promises of the Republicans to right the economy will be seen as efforts only to enrich the already wealthy, their biggest supporters, and corporations. The citizens will not be any better off financially than they were in 2010. The citizens will also realize that the freedoms they've sacrificed have not made our nation any safer nor have they contributed to the quality of their lives. After three years of entitlement, Christians will in large numbers become politically apathetic and the Republicans will lose the support of many big churches. The Republican's transparent support of big business will become a burden for those same businesses as their own employees begin to revolt against them. Businesses will consider it in their own best interest to provide better working conditions for all their employees and they will blame the Republicans for fostering the anger towards them. Businesses will also suffer from a less well educated work force. Any industry that relies on mathematical, engineering or scientific skills will be especially hit hard by the low numbers of college graduates with those skills. Meanwhile fast food franchises will appear on every block in every town just to take advantage of the huge number of unemployed, willing-to-do-anything-for-a-paycheck people of all ages.
But those who decide to no longer back the Republicans won't have much of a viable option. During the previous three years the Democrats will have failed to develop any realistic strategies of their own for fixing what ails America. Indeed, the majority of Americans may have, by this point, concluded there is no way to fix all the problems facing their nation.
The elections of 2016 may be the end of business as usual for America. With neither major party trusted and no emergent party with enough power to exercise change, Americans could very well lose all hope that the country will ever again be financially solvent and the home of freedom and liberty. At that point its likely that America will become a true corporatetocricy, owned by and run as a corporation. Citizens will be considered employees and the federal budget will be based solely on profits.
2017 could be a very interesting year in the (if they still are) United States.