Now is a popular time to make bold predictions about what is going to happen in the new year, but that is going to be a pointless endeavor this time around--because 2015 is going to be the year that never happened. Sure, there will be 365 days on the calendar--but everything that takes place from a political, economic and social aspect will be viewed through the prism of 2016.
For all intents and purposes, 2016 started the day after the November elections this year. Have you heard any serious conversation about what is going to be accomplished in Washington in 2015? The assumption is that anything majority Republicans send to President Obama will be vetoed out of hand and the stalemate will just continue as normal. And the focus has now turned to the "tough map" that Republicans face in 2016--including the re-election challenge Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson faces in a Presidential year. That means every committee meeting he chairs, every vote he takes on the floor of the Senate and every appearance on Fox News and Morning Joe will be evaluated in how it "affects his chances in 2016". Meanwhile, every word uttered by Russ Feingold in his college speeches will be parsed to determine if he is running again in 2016.
Governor Scott Walker's new budget will be seen as a de facto 2016 Presidential campaign platform. Every visit to Iowa or New York or Texas will be seen as a "clear sign" that he is running in 2016. Speeches at Governors' conferences or GOP conventions will be seen as "practice runs" for 2016. Republicans in the Legislature will likely front-end their agendas so as not to have to handle any controversial issue in 2016--and not to put their huge majorities in Madison at risk.
And expect to hear plenty about Hillary Clinton for the next 365 days--always preceded with the label "The Clear Democratic Front-runner for 2016". Everything that happens around the world will be presented in ways that ask "how does this affect Hillary's chances in 2016?" ISIS steps up their attacks in Iraq and Syria? How would Hillary handle it? Vladamir Putin continues his secret war in Ukraine? Would Hillary stand up to him? What does Hillary think about protests over police shootings of unarmed young black men? (Of course, by the time we actually get to 2016, the media narrative will be "Are people burned out on Hillary Clinton?"--just like in 2008.)
So enjoy your 2015--or as I like to call it: the FIRST 365 days of 2016.