OPINION — As we enter into the President Joe Biden era in the United States, it is beyond difficult to predict what the country will look like at the conclusion of his first term. Will the Democratic Party move leftward to near or actual socialism? Will the Republican Party move farther to the right? Will the more moderates from both parties become more assertive and take back their parties?

Moderate Democrats are fast becoming an endangered species. Blue Dogs and “New Democrats” may have ushered in the Clinton years, but have since lost favor among new and exceedingly more liberal Democrats like those who profess an era of democratic socialism is the future of the party.

Many moderate Republicans have either left office, been defeated, or kowtowed to President Donald Trump’s obvious popularity among his Republican base. South Dakota’s own Sen. John Thune has been annoyingly silent about Trump’s multiple irksome and unpresidential imperfections throughout his presidency.

I asked friends of differing political viewpoints – each of whom think objectively – for their fearless predictions for 2021.

One said he thought bitcoin would reach 75,000 dollars. Since I haven’t yet figured out how to buy, sell, declare income from, or actually purchase something I can hold in my hand with bitcoin, this prediction may be a topic for another day, assuming the complexities of bitcoin can someday be understood by financially nescient.

Another friend fearlessly predicted that in 2021, “the rich will get richer and the poor and middle class will get poorer.” This was a bit of a surprise since this individual is a relatively moderate Democrat, and certainly the most liberal among those surveyed. I suspected he would think with Democratic control of the House and the executive branch, he would predict brighter days for the poor and darker days for the rich, with the middle class treading water.

Another friend predicted 2021 will have two presidents – one residing in, and governing from, the White House and the other residing in and governing via tweet while in exile in the louche comfort of Mar-A-Lago. He points out that more than 70 million Americans are loyal to the out-going president. That’s a big number. If a fraction of those remain in constant (and often hostile) contact with a narrowly Republican controlled Senate, the soon-to-be former president could actually influence legislation that lands on the new president’s desk.

I believe Trump’s influence will in fact be limited in the next four years, but it won’t be so because of a lack of effort on Trump’s part.

Finally, another friend said he thought the United States would witness the beginnings of a more powerful third political party. He believes, as do I, that those to the right within the Democratic Party and those to the left in the Republican Party will begin to understand that there are more of them than there are in the extremes of their own parties. Those who are exhausted by the political polarization of the last two administrations will emerge and support a candidate that more closely represents their views.

We agreed that many long-time Republicans, like columnist George Will and Charles Krauthamer before his death, no longer believe today’s Republicans represent their conservative views. Will and Krauthamer left the party. We agree more will follow. But, they won’t register as Democrats because that party is moving toward radical ideas about socialism, de-funding police, sanctuary cities and more.

Similarly, middle-leaning Democrats will discover their party no longer represents their views. Centrist Republicans and Democrats, we believe, will eventually meet in the middle and unite in a new party with reason at its core.

A powerful third party won’t emerge in 2021. Discontent strong enough to develop a new and powerful party is in an embryonic stage. Its beginnings will be evident in the 2022 mid-term election. It’s happened before. Abraham Lincoln was only the second Republican candidate to run for president.

Michael Sanborn writes from Rapid City. 

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