Never, it seems, has a year, in my life time, been entered into with as much trepidation as 2017. Will the celebrity death cull continue? Will President Trump explode the world? Hard boiled or scrambled Brexit?
Well, let’s take each of these issues in turn.
Well the celebrity death craze continue?
Almost certainly, yes. Back in the first half of the twentieth century celebrities were something of a rare species. The world gasped and feinted at Greta Garbo’s every utterance (and she didn’t say much), while John Wayne made a western a week. The generation of big, big, stars started to hit their old age in the 1990s, so you had Jimmy Stewart and Robert Mitchum dying a day apart in 1997 for example, which must have been quite a task to squeeze onto Ceefax.
In the 1960s the notion of celebrity exploded because there were suddenly many more mediums through which to become famous. You didn’t just have to appear in a film anymore, you could also put out a record, or, most importantly, appear on the television. This second, well stocked, generation of celebrities, is now tottering into old age and there are simply many more of them to kill off, hence the spike, which will only continue and, over time, speed-up.
By the time the millennials reach old age, a generation which generates celebrities like a cloud turns out grey rain drops, newspapers (of which there won’t be any in 2070) will require armies of obituary writers just to keep up.
Will President Trump kill us all?
Almost certainly, not. Although Donald Trump is, to say the least, something of an unconventional choice as America’s chief executive, many, if not all, of the more dubious facts of his biography and traits of character have been seen in presidents past. And the world survived all their stints in office. Let’s take a look back through the dirty mists of time:
Billionaire businessmen who earned money via dubious sources?
President Kennedy was the last billionaire president, money he inherited from his father, who was something of a dubious wheeler dealer in the Trump mould. Accusations of anti-Semitism? Tick. Mob connections? Tick. Accusations of Nazi sympathies? Tick. Warren G. Harding was another rich businessman president, who died half way through his first term, surprisingly popular, but now of course, reviled.
Philanderers/ serial abusers of women?
Take your pick. Clinton/LBJ/Kennedy/Eisenhower/FDR all could never be described as ethical men in terms of their relationships with women.
Serial liars with borderline personality disorders?
Nixon, Nixon and Nixon on both counts. Virtually all of them on the first count. He didn’t have sexual relations with that woman? He didn’t sell arms to the Nicaraguan Contras? The facts and the evidence say different.
Non of this makes Donald Trump’s behaviour excusable, it simply makes the point that we have been here before and we came through it, alive, for the most part.
Will he propose unpopular, backward looking legislation? Almost certainly, yes. Will it be opposed, modulated and in-time, over-turned? Of course.
Jumps forward in American history are always, generally, met with a big, fat, step backwards. Just as LBJ’s Great Society and civil rights advances were met with the election of Richard Nixon in 1969, so the social leaps forward of the Obama years have ended with the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. History tells us the pendulum is liable to swing the other way quicker than most expect. Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency and was gone, ensnared in a web of his own lies, by 1974. Not many people expected that.
Many things that appear unprecedented at face value, in all actuality, aren’t.
What type of Brexit?
Well, I for one, feel that it no longer matters. The most important thing that 2016 taught us is not that the worst case scenario happens, but that the world keeps turning when it does.
Your worst case Brexit scenario may well happen, but you’re still going to have to get up the next morning and make it work for you. As someone, somewhere, once said, ‘people will come and go, but the river is eternal.’
I’m not quite sure what that means, or in fact, if I’ve just made it up, but it’s the thought I will leave you with.
Happy New Year!