Politico had an unusual homework assignment for a number of futurists, political analysts, and prognosticators. It was to put on their Nostradamus caps to predict what, if any, Black Swan events could affect the 2024 presidential election. The results ranged from the somewhat reasonable to the downright bizarre as you can see in Friday’s “The Unpredictable But Entirely Possible Events That Could Throw 2024 Into Turmoil.”
One of the assignees was the melodramatic Marquette University political science professor, Julia Azari, who rather than write a simple prediction interpreted her job as writing a novel starting with the very Hemingwayisque title of her absurdly specific thus unintentionally hilarious prognostication, “Death at a Trump rally.”
On Oct. 19, a fight breaks out at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida. A group of five white men in their early 50s looked like standard rally-goers. But as they catch the attention of one of the many TV cameras in the arena, the group pulls out protest signs reading: TRUMP LIES and SAVE DEMOCRACY NOW. They had done similar protest actions together for years — anti-war protests, national political conventions and a few Trump events. Part politics, part reunion for longtime friends who had met in college protesting the first Gulf War.
What happens next is disputed. A couple attending their seventh Trump rally say that the protesters started pushing when people around them chanted insults. Other accounts say the Trump supporters initiated the fighting. However it happened, one of the five protesters suffered a heart attack. He is rushed to a local hospital but dies a few hours later.
News media scramble to cover the event, and the public can’t look away. A clear narrative proves elusive. Was the protester’s demise simply a random tragedy? Or a sign of the dangers of an increasingly violent time in American politics?
Pundits’ debates over these questions, interspersed with interviews with the deceased man’s friends, grieving widow and eloquent, angry teenaged children dominate the remaining weeks of the campaign. These stories drown out much of Biden’s messages about declining unemployment and legislative victories and distract from Trump’s slogans about immigrants and making America great again. The poignancy of the story draws in some Americans who paid little attention to politics, but for close watchers of politics, it was irresistible. Some question why the matter gets so much press when violence against people of color draws a fraction of the coverage. Others call for the suspension of Trump’s campaign, which leads to a whole new set of arguments about whether this was just a pretext to push him out of politics once again. One cable network devotes an hourlong program to a panel discussion about whether the Biden administration has done enough to curb political violence.
And so it continues, until Election Day.
Sorry, Julia, but you didn’t specify whether it was 3:15 PM or 4:15 PM on October 19 when the fight breaks out at a Trump rally in Tampa (but not St. Petersburg). Could you please be a little more absurdly specific?
Next up we have the head of the Galileo Project, Avi Loeb, who is so far up in the clouds beyond our solar system that he apparently overlooked the part of the assignment about the presidential campaign while focusing entirely on a Black Swan ET event.
Finding a package from a neighbor among familiar rocks in our backyard is an exciting event. So is the discovery of a technological object near Earth that was sent from an exoplanet. As a follow-up on such a finding, we could search for signals coming from any potential senders, starting from the nearest houses on our cosmic street. The sudden knowledge that we weren’t alone in the universe would immediately upend how humans think about themselves and their civilization, and the effects on earth would be both momentous and unpredictable.
You mean like a Black Monolith that has the power to turn ape men into more enlightened beings that go from tossing around bones to building spaceships while also being cured of TDS? That sounds somewhat familiar but the good news, Avi, is that your recycled premise has the possibility of qualifying you to become the president of Harvard.
Dying in a nuclear conflagration is no fun but, oddly enough, one gets the impression that Never Trumper Charlie Sykes would leave this world with a smile on his face. Why? Because that would mean Trump wouldn’t be elected president again.
We could find ourselves on the brink of a nuclear confrontation amidst a global economic meltdown that would overshadow every other issue.
And if nukes don’t do the trick then Charlie has other visions of apocalyptic doom that would keep Trump from returning to the White House.
What if the computers and the satellites stopped working? For even a few days? What if the virus attacked the world’s banking system, vaporizing trillions of dollars of wealth?
What if you stopped obsessing about Trump, Charlie? Naw, that assumption is too wild to be the slightest bit credible.
Finally, we have a Black Swan event prediction that is a must for all such lists presented by liberals: Global Warming. Brought to you by one Bill McKibben (not to be confused with the Tampa Bill McKibben who is one of the five white guys at the October 19 Trump rally in Julia Azari’s Black Swan novella).
Given that 2024 seems almost certain to break 2023’s global temperature record (and this year was already the hottest in 125,000 years), the physics of global warming indicate that we can expect … havoc.
The precise form it will take and spots it will strike can never be known in advance — some combination of fire, flood, storm, drought and sapping heat — but it would be a shock only if it didn’t happen. And perhaps when it does, it will be one more reminder of the folly of electing climate deniers to high office.
Fire, flood, storm, drought, sapping heat, and ingrown toenails. All can be blamed on the all-purpose global warming. And the fringe benefit is it would keep from electing “climate deniers” (aka Trump! Trump! Trump!)