2. The Democratic Challenge.
The Democratic Party offers a comprehensive field of alternatives to the current occupant of the Oval Office. After a brief period of finding their legs, it comes down to two genuine progressives against a handful of moderates. If you're a progressive you may be wondering when and if Warren and Sanders will ever make common cause. If both stay in the running to the bitter end, they will effectively counter each other and clear the way for a mundane moderate to win the nomination. If you're a progressive, you may be tired of hearing how only moderates can beat Trump. You get tired of reminding Democratic voters that Clinton was a right of center moderate who lost because she could not make a convincing case for working people to vote for her. How many times will the Democrats repeat the error before trying a different tack: Try voting with your heart.
1. The Rise of Putin.
This was the year Vladimir Putin collected the dividends of his hard work. Putin's Russia claims to have a nuclear missile that travels twenty-seven times the speed of sound and is invulnerable to nuclear defense systems. Putin's clear goal is to return Russia to prominence in international politics. He has Crimea and is actively engaged in occupying more of Ukraine. He has effectively undermined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and broken Great Britain from the European Union. He has subdued all political opposition within Russia and assassinated adversaries in other nations most prominently Britain.
The Russian oil-dependent economy continues to struggle but Putin clearly has the American president in his pocket. Trump has worked overtime to do his bidding. He has tried but failed to eliminate targeted sanctions against Russian oligarchs. He has tried but failed to reopen the doors to Russia in the G-8. He has tried and failed to deny critical military aide to Ukraine in its war with Putin. If Trump continues as president, one of these days he won't fail and the Russian empire will return. Then again, if we topple Trump and fight back Russian propaganda, Putin may follow.
There are of course many more stories and developments that took place in the last year. The dominance of social media monopolies threatens to alter our society in fundamental ways. The trade war between China and the USA has not yet made its full potential impact. The border wall and the war on immigrants has yet to fully develop. The disgrace of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to dispatch him from office.
These and many more stories may rise to prominence in the coming year. For now, these ten will do. Our world is changing at such a rapid pace it would be impossible to predict what the future will hold. Assessing the past is difficult enough.
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