Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile

If we learned anything from 2015, it’s that 2016 will be nothing like what we imagine it will. Suffice it to say that in my look ahead to 2015 last year, I did not predict that Donald Trump would lead in the quest for the Republican presidential nomination. If I had called that one, I’d be working as a psychic.

But I am prescient enough to be able to predict certain things with amazing accuracy, such as the fact that 2016 will see a number of notable anniversaries. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to make that call.

The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016. In 1916, the federal government saw the need for an organization to oversee and protect our nation’s natural wonders and monuments. Today, the National Park Service administers over 400 locations, including 59 parks, and employs 20,000 people.

One of the places overseen by the Park Service is Pearl Harbor, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Dec. 7, 2016, will mark 75 years since the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, precipitating this country’s entry into World War II. The coming year will also mark the 15th anniversary of another attack – the 9/11 terror attacks that precipitated this country’s entry into a war in Afghanistan – a war that continues to this day.

In an election cycle in which political outsiders are running strong, this election year marks 40 years since the election of Jimmy Carter. Many forget that Carter started out as an outsider – a one-term governor of Georgia who was dismissed by the Democratic Party establishment. But he campaigned relentlessly and eventually became the first president from the Deep South since the Civil War.

We also will mark five years since the Occupy Wall Street movement was born in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. Its crusade to address income and wealth disparity, social injustice and the influence of money on politics continues to have impact on political races today.

Hard to believe that it will have been 20 years since the murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996 – a crime that we are no closer to having a definitive answer to now than we were then. There have been more Tupac albums released in the years following his death than during his lifetime, and it’s probable that the anniversary will add to that total.

Another milestone to be observed next year is Twitter’s 10th birthday. On March 21, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet, “Just setting up my twttr,” launching a world of communication in 140-character bursts. Today, Twitter has over half a billion users. #GoldMine

We can also predict with reasonable assurance that the 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the first Olympic Games to be held in South America. More than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries will compete in over 300 medal events. And I predict that NBC Sports will find at least one “compelling human drama” in each and every one.

We do know that everything in 2016 will be colored by the fact that it’s an election year. What that often means is that elected officials who want to be re-elected officials are loath to take any sort of meaningful action in office. Add to that the fact that it’s a presidential election year and you have a sitting president entering what is usually the lamest time of the lame duck phase.

President Obama is vowing that won’t be the case in his final year in office – pointing to major achievements during 2015 including reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Paris climate change agreement and negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran.

In the coming year, Obama has announced that he will push for Congressional approval of his sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which has bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. House Speaker Paul Ryan has called the TPP “very important,” but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be a “big mistake” for Obama to push for a vote on the measure before the 2016 elections.

The president has also expressed a desire to make good on a long-deferred campaign promise and close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, going so far as to use executive authority if Congress won’t act.

It’s also a virtual certainty that our leaders will have to do something to fight ISIS both in Syria and Iraq, and here at home. It’s also certain that there will be a political fight here over exactly what to do. President Obama has been pressuring Congress to finally, formally authorize the use of military force against ISIS. Thus far, the military campaign has been conducted under the same legal authority that Congress granted President Bush after the 9/11 attacks back in 2001.

One year from now we’ll have a new president-elect, new Olympic winners and record holders, and another year’s worth of new songs, movies, memories, heartaches and joys. And 2016 is also a Leap Year. So let’s hope it’s a better year than most, because it will definitely be a longer year than most.

Happy New Year!

— Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.


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