Trump-related predictions I have offered in this blog have had a rather shaky record of coming to pass. I predicted that Trump would switch, post-primaries, from brutal dominance games to an emphasis on untenable promises, and that didn’t happen. In another post, I urged preparation for a possible Trump victory, but made it clear that I considered it more an exercise in disaster-readiness than in bracing for the inevitable.
Within that latter post, convinced by arguments of various learned people on Twitter, I stated my surety that a Trump victory would presage an immediate and devastating stock market crash. More than a month after the terrible event, it has become clear that the market reacted exactly in the opposite manner, so far. I also speculated there that a Trump victory would commence two terrifying months of feeling like a person trapped on a crashing airplane. In reality — for me, at least — this feeling did come, but it lasted only until the following day’s sunrise. Like many, many others, I immediately started seeking ways to define my own contribution to the coming years of anti-autocratic resistance. With this came more resolute hope and a stronger feeling of control than I would have predicted.
In this way, I have at least kept the promises I made to myself on this blog. One of those promises was I will seek out movements keeping American hope alive. Not explicitly stated, but which I now understand as implied by it: I will find my leaders. And right now, as Jeet Heer has lamented, the new American resistance moment lacks overall leadership. I hope that it will come, and I do not know where it will come from.
But I have a hope that it just might come from Barack and Michelle Obama, shortly after the former steps down from the presidency next month.
Many friends expressed disappointment that President Obama did not use the opportunity of his final 2016 press conference, held last Friday, to do something extreme in the name of rescuing American democracy: denounce the election as false, perhaps, or even declare a halt to the orderly transition of power to his elected successor. Part of me wanted to see that too, but I didn’t expect it. It would have been entirely out of character to the most subtle and nuanced U.S. president of my lifetime to flip the table like that. I do not think, however, that this means that the president plans to do nothing at all.
I have since the start of this year said every now and again how much I have looked forward to seeing what Barack Obama’s post-presidential career will look like. When I first said it, I felt sure that he and his family would start their next chapter against a backdrop of continued progressive leadership, which seemed all but certain at the time. I still mean it now, but with an entirely different tenor: I hope to see them emerge, grimly, as de facto leaders of a national movement of resistance against a nihilistic authoritarian kleptocracy.
Despite my questionable track record of casual political predictions, I feel strong about this one. Not just because I want it to happen, but because I have zero expectation that the Obamas personally desire to fade away into the brush-clearing obscurity favored by most American presidents of my acquaintence. They took office young, and they’re young yet. I think — I hope — that they will help us come together and fight to keep the nation and the world together.