The whole of the 2010s can be summed up in a single phrase: “Well, that sucked.”
This is the decade that began with the passage of a landmark health care reform bill and ended with a dangerous amoral president about to survive a well-deserved impeachment. This is the decade where Connecticut started off in a major fiscal crisis and ended in what feels like hopeless economic and financial stagnation. This is the decade in which whatever faith we had in our institutions, our politics, our electorate, and everything else we thought was good, was absolutely shattered.
Yes, gentle readers, it did indeed suck. At least we got Baby Yoda and fidget spinners out of it?
I’ll admit, this dizzying downward spiral has me anxious and pessimistic about what the next decade will bring. But there are reasons for hope. Everything runs in cycles, and change is always coming.
In that spirit, here are some of the ways the next 10 years could work out for the better.
The President and the Presidency
He’ll survive impeachment, and he’ll use it as a weapon to club Democrats in his re-election campaign. Americans are so numb to all of the outrages pouring from the White House these days that I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being re-elected.
Yes, that would be a disaster. It would make solving all the other problems that much harder. But it doesn’t make them impossible. At some point, Donald Trump will be out of power. That may be in 2021, or it may be 2025. Like all things, the Trump presidency will end.
At that point, though, Americans will have to reckon with a presidency that has become too powerful and too unaccountable. Americans will demand reform, and hopefully by 2030 the president will be bound by stronger ethics rules and be more accountable.
Congress will also have to act to take back some of the power the Executive Branch has amassed. To do that, Congress will have to become better at actually legislating and at responding to crises. Doing away with roadblocks like the filibuster in the Senate would help. We also could – and hopefully will – have leaders in both parties who are committed to passing legislation instead of burying it.
In this way the federal government, which has been a gridlocked basket case for too long, could actually start to function well again during the 2020s.
I don’t have a lot of hope that we’ll be seriously reducing carbon emissions to the point that we need to be in order to avert looming disaster. The world simply isn’t ready to do that yet. But what I think we will see is a strong move away from fossil fuels toward renewable electric power. We’re already seeing it happen; the new Park City Wind project is expected to deliver the equivalent of 14% of the state’s power from offshore wind farms.
Breakthroughs in technology will help. Batteries that can store large amounts of power for longer periods of time will make solar and wind power much more effective at night and when the winds are calm.
I also expect to see a hardening of our infrastructure against the biggest climate threat to the East Coast: storms and flooding. We’ll adapt and survive, but we should also be prepared to start taking in people fleeing those regions hardest hit.
Connecticut’s Endless Crisis
The Little State That Couldn’t has had a miserable 10 years, for sure. After a decade of deficits and painful cuts we’re a teeny bit better off than we were, but still agonizingly short of money for things that need doing. It seems like we’re hopelessly stuck, but the chance at change is coming up.
Tolls on the roads are probably still coming for trucks or for everyone. While people will scream during the first part of the 2020s, the significant progress on better transportation by the end of the decade will make getting around a lot easier.
Another way the state can regain its financial footing will come as a no-layoffs agreement with some state employees negotiated by Gov. Malloy expires in 2021, and the whole collective bargaining agreement expires in 2027. This gives the legislature and governor an opportunity to make long-term structural changes in state government spending.
Plus, if the federal government starts to function again, we could see more federal dollars flowing into the northeast.
Reasons for Hope
This past decade has seen so much unravel. But as long as there are people who want this country to stay together and press on into the future, we have a shot of making the 2020s a difficult, but ultimately successful, decade.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.