Are we there yet?
The children's question on long car trips is likely to be the question parents will ask political and economic decision-makers during 2012.
The Republican primaries will yield political drama during the first half of the year. Republicans have partly imitated Democrats by moving from winner-take-all primaries to proportional representation of the kind that in 2008 led to a protracted battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. For example, the new rules state that any GOP primary in March must have some proportionality in the selection of delegates.
Since Obama in 2008 faced only one other major candidate, he was able to eke out a win without having the contest continue all the way to the Democratic convention. But what if the GOP, at the end of March this year, has not two but three or four major candidates, all with enthusiastic supporters and enough financial backing to keep on slogging, state after state?
Even now many people are saying that the GOP bench-Huckabee, Daniels, Christie, Ryan, Rubio, McDonnell-is stronger than the team on the field. If no campaigning candidate gains a commanding lead, the "none of the above" caucus will grow and we may be on the way to the journalists' dream, a convention where delegates must actually convene to select a nominee.
That's unlikely but conceivable in 2012. Also unlikely soon is any resolution of the debate concerning how much government should intervene in markets, and how much more of the total tax bill the top 1 percent should pay. We've been told often that this or that federal program will stimulate the economy out of its job-poor semi-recovery, but so far many Americans are no better off than they were immediately after the Crash of 2008.
Internationally, the financial future is also murky. In China and the Middle East, where the division between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is real, most despots seem likely to hold onto their political and economic power, unless they are replaced by new despots. In Europe, where overspending by many national governments has created financial crisis, residents of many nations are likely to ask "Est-qu'on est arrivés maintenant?" in their own languages-and with many kilometers to go before they sleep, presidents will continue to reply, "Non."
But here's one bit of good news: 2012 is a leap year, so we have one day more than usual to get things right. The real Good News is this: We sinners will continue to mess up this year, but Christ has already accomplished what's needed for all who believe in Him to leap ahead.
2012: The Year Ahead
• Around the world: A look at 11 nations in transition
• States to watch: Here are 10 states to watch as campaign season heats up
• Eating our broccoli: Americans may be ready to accept short-term pain for long-term gain
• Race for the White House: Here's where the top four candidates stand on the issues