Most people were looking forward to the new year, thinking it unimaginable that 2021 could be worse than 2020. Then, six days in, the criminal who occupied the White House decided to stroke his ego by inciting an insurrection. A novel way to bring in a new year.
The good news for Mr. Trump is that he can now truthfully claim to have done something no other president has ever accomplished: being impeached twice.
As a life-long Republican, I agreed with some of Trump’s policies. It was time to get tough on China and hold our allies accountable for their NATO alliance responsibilities. I would not have done it in such an amateurish fashion, but the message needed to be delivered. We also need to get a handle on immigration. That doesn’t mean building walls or putting people seeking a better life in lockup. But it does mean ensuring that those who come to this country do so legally.
Nonetheless, it will be a long time before I vote for another Republican. The Party of Lincoln has turned its back on our democracy.
For those who supported — and continue to support — Donald Trump, the politest thing I can say is that you are woefully misinformed. There is no “Deep State” voting conspiracy. Such a concept would require officials in every contested state, judges in every court of jurisdiction, and every legitimate media outlet to be willing participants. And that’s absurd.
The 2020 election was no more stolen than in 2016, when Trump won by the narrowest of margins. Funny, there was no call for recounts and probes then.
We should be thankful to the state officials from both parties who faithfully executed their duties. We should be thankful to the courts — including the Supreme Court with its three Trump appointees — who threw out the myriad frivolous lawsuits. Unless you believe the Supreme Court is also part of the Deep State, which would be very Manchurian Candidate-like.
The simple truth is that Donald Trump is a self-serving, delusional sociopath. He is the proverbial one-trick-pony, and I say this as someone who has done his homework and has written about Trump’s shenanigans for over 15 years.
Recently, I came across a column that I penned for the Nashua Telegraph on Oct. 23, 2005. In it, I wrote that Trump was a pretentious, self-absorbed narcissist with an inability to admit mistakes and that he wouldn’t know reality if it bit him in the you-know-where. That column was written in response to Trump attempting to blame the demise of the Apprentice TV show on Martha Stewart and the show’s creator Mark Burnett.
Does that all sound familiar? That’s because Donald Trump has acted in exactly the same fashion all his life.
Nevertheless, the “Trump Movement” was spawned from legitimate grievances. Washington has let us down. Politicians in both parties have replaced service to our country with service to their respective parties and the pursuit of personal power. I am as disgusted with Washington as those who support Trump and agree that substantial changes are necessary.
Unfortunately, electing Trump wasn’t the solution. Sadly, neither is giving the Democrats complete control. Yet that is the result of the Republicans’ subservience to a lunatic.
So what can we anticipate for 2021, and what was my scorecard for 2020?
I made few predictions in 2020. That was a good thing since, given the circumstances, only an infectious disease expert could rightfully claim any prescience for what 2020 held.
Based on past presidential election years, I predicted that the stock markets would experience another good year. After the pandemic manifested, I then predicted the markets would tank. They didn’t. Given the financial market’s total detachment from economic reality, I subsequently committed to cease making stock market predictions. Even if you predicted a “V” shaped recovery, there is no fundamental reason for the markets to have finished at record highs.
Well, there’s one reason: The power brokers on Wall Street continue to jigger the stock indices by removing laggards and inserting high-flyers. Apple is now a member of the Dow, and Tesla was recently added to the S&P.
One last comment on the markets. Last year I mentioned that in late 2019 Bridgewater Associates — one of the smartest hedge funds in the world — placed a $1.5 billion bet that the markets would decline by March of 2020. Were they so astute as to the time of the pandemic’s impact, or was it luck? We will never know, but it remarkable that they saw it coming and more than a little scary.
Some of my correct predictions were related to politics. Former President Trump did, in fact, proclaim vindication from the Mueller “witch hunt,” and the Republican Party has begun to disintegrate. The Democrats were also disciplined enough to nominate someone other than Sanders or Warren, and it resulted in a win for them. But I did think the Republicans would retain the Senate. They didn’t.
As for 2021, I believe the unrest and underlying problems that brought Trump to office will persist. Many of the 70 million Americans who supported him will continue to believe that the election was stolen. This will lead to a continued social and economic divide and additional unrest, including acts of violence. The Democrats will not solve that problem.
Economically, the impact of the pandemic’s second wave will make for a difficult first half of 2021. The jobs market won’t rebound until the second quarter, when the vaccine combined with warm weather will allow us to begin to return to some semblance of normalcy.
The Democrats will quickly flood the economy with $2 trillion of stimulus with more to come. Taxes on the wealthy and corporations will increase. And that is a good thing. The Trump tax cuts were overly generous to those segments. Economic stimulus will solve our short-term problem but increase our overall debt to 150% of GDP. The good news is that we still have a ways to go to match Japan’s debt level that stands in the 230% range.
By summer, expect pent-up demand to give the economy a major boost. That will result in a strong second half of the year. Assuming no-repeat COVID outbreak, expect continued economic strength well into 2022. At least if the financial markets set new records, they’ll have a legitimate reason.