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The Year Ahead: 10 Political Highlights of 2018

Democrats 2018 (Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty)
Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty

The year 2016 brought us one of the most dramatic elections in history. The year 2017 was a bare-knuckled brawl that produced dramatic changes in America and the world. The year 2018 promises to be even more dramatic.

We cannot know exactly what will happen, and there are always surprises. But here are ten highlights to watch, which will define the year and shape our political world.

1. Infrastructure plans: President Trump plans to introduce an infrastructure spending bill in January. Though he may lose some Republican fiscal hawks, who are already jittery about the effect of the new tax cuts on the deficit, he hopes to woo some Democrats to support a policy they have trumpeted for years, and which promises to create tens of thousands of union jobs. The infrastructure debate could bridge political divides — or reinforce old ones.

2. The Wall: The most important political fight of Donald Trump’s presidency will be the fight over whether, and to what extent, former President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy should be retained when it expires in March. Democrats want full amnesty for 800,000 recipients, with a path to citizenship; Trump is insisting on a wall, and ending chain migration; and Republicans are still divided.

3. Economic boom. The economy is already soaring, and the president’s tax cuts — which include incentives for U.S. firms to repatriate foreign earnings — are almost certain to boost domestic investment and growth. The Fed already plans to hike interest rates to keep inflation from overheating. If managed correctly, this blend of fiscal and monetary policies could lay the foundations for a renaissance that escapes Wall Street and reaches Main Street.

4. 2018 primaries. The special elections of 2017 were only skirmishes for the major battles that will follow in 2018. Both parties will see insurgent candidates challenge the party establishment, but the tougher fights will be on the Republican side — and not just in closely-watched Senate races, but in gubernatorial races as well. If strong candidates emerge to challenge incumbents and leadership favorites, a shakeup may be looming in Washington.

5. Kennedy retirement. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is widely rumored to be retiring after the spring term of 2018, meaning that President Trump will have another opportunity to replace an outgoing conservative justice, refreshing the court’s narrow 5-4 majority. Democrats will mount a loud but ultimately futile effort against whomever Trump nominates, having unwisely tampered with the Senate filibuster rule when they held the majority.

6. North Korea. Against a backdrop of escalating threats from North Korea, which is making progress in its effort to develop ballistic missiles that can threaten the U.S., the world (minus Russia, which has been banned for doping) will arrive in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 200 miles south of the border. As sanctions begin to bite, Kim Jong-Un may attempt something rash — or may capitulate. Either way, this will be the most closely-watched foreign story.

7. Syria and Iran. The Trump administration launched a successful airstrike on a Syrian air force base linked to chemical weapons attacks, and has routed the so-called “Islamic State.” But another danger has arisen, as Iran tries to build its own bases on Syrian territory. Israel has already bombed suspected Iranian installations, and the country could spark a broader conflict if Iranians continue to press their advantage — as they continue to flout the Iran deal.

8. Russia probe. There will continue to be no evidence of collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, though troubled by conflicts of interest and allegations of political bias, will continue to investigate Trump associates for any possible infractions, including those extraneous to the campaign. Democrats will turn every new fact into a case for impeachment.

9. 2018 midterms. The November election will be the most anticipated event of the year. Democrats, riding the so-called “Resistance” movement and the “metoo” campaign, are hoping for a massive wave election that could sweep both the House and the Senate into their hands. Republicans, however, have few Senate seats up for grabs, have a favorable district map in the House, and are closing 2018 with new momentum. That may help them keep control.

10. NFL struggles. The National Football League has suffered a calamitous drop in viewership and attendance ever since players started kneeling for the national anthem. The league will have the offseason to address the problem, but the fact that Commissioner Roger Goodell just renewed his massive contract makes that much more unlikely. The league will continue to struggle to maintain its fans — and the problem may spread to the NBA and elsewhere.

And, as always, we can anticipate the unexpected, as well.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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