YEAR OF THE ROOSTER – 2017, PART 2 American Politics

The new moon on January 27, 2017 (in the United States, which will be January 28th in many parts of the world) marks the beginning of a new year under the Oriental lunar calendar.  As you probably know, each year is symbolized by one of twelve animals and each of those animal years cycles through affinities to the five elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood. This will be the Year of the Fire Rooster (or Fire Chicken, as it is called in Vietnam), which occurs every 60 years.

For the past several years, I have posted some predictions for what may occur in the world during the upcoming year.  Rather than claiming to be any more (or less) psychic than you are, my approach has been to assume that the traditional cycles are valid.  Then, by looking at what occurred in previous Rooster years, we should be able to extrapolate predictions for the coming year.  The posts of previous predictions are available for review, and most have been quite accurate.  If you would like to check what was prognosticated for 2016’s Year of the Monkey, you may do so by clicking here.

This year I am taking a slightly different approach and dividing the prognostications into two parts.  The first part was fairly general, and looked at matters in different parts of the world, which is pretty much the format I have used in previous years.  This second part will focus on the political situation in the United States since it seems that will have a major influence on what occurs this year and for many years to come.

As we have seen, the Rooster is believed to be a hard working animal – one which rises before the sun and begins its daily tasks, such as crowing to announce the sunrise.  Thus, this will be a year in which one’s success or failure is directly related to his or her efforts.  We will all need to get out there with our fellow chickens and scratch to obtain what is needed or desired.  It is a time when what we get will be what we deserve.

However, for most people the thought of a “Fire Rooster” conjures a different image – one of a feisty little bird acting impulsively and in an aggressive, despotic, ego-driven fury.  Unfortunately, we may also see too much of that in the months ahead.

With that as a segue, we could move directly to a question that is important for many Americans – and, indeed, for much of the world:  What can we expect with Donald Trump as president?  Before making any predictions on that front, however, we need to consider a broader perspective.

July 4, 1776 is considered the birthday of the United States of America, so the country was born during a Year of the Fire Monkey.  One full 60-year cycle was therefore completed in the next Fire Monkey year, 1836.  Another cycle was completed in 1896; a third in 1956; and a fourth in 2016, the Fire Monkey year that we are just leaving.  That means that this year’s Rooster is crowing in the beginning of a whole new cycle for the USA.

During the first 60-year cycle, the United States won its independence from Great Britain, fought the War of 1812, made the Louisiana Purchase, acquired Florida from Spain and had admitted 25 states extending west of the Mississippi River to Missouri and Arkansas.  Texas had won its independence from Mexico, but remained a separate country.  It was a time of growth and exuberance.

Those themes were amplified as the second cycle began.  It was a time of “Manifest Destiny” with Texas becoming a state and then California and the American Southwest were taken from Mexico.  The country was hopelessly divided on the issue of slavery and a bloody Civil War was fought, followed by a period of Reconstruction.  By the end of the cycle, the US had 45 states and three territories (Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico), and extended across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.  The time of exuberant growth had come to an end because there was no convenient place left to grow.

The third cycle essentially began with the election of William McKinley, who took office in the Fire Rooster year of 1897.  Although slavery was no longer the focus of political disputes, the country was deeply divided.  McKinley, a Republican, won all of the industrialized states in the Northeast and Midwest, but lost all but three states west of the Mississippi as well as all of the states from Missouri southward.  This marked the beginning of what has been called the “Fourth Party System” or “Progressive Era.”  Except for Woodrow Wilson’s time in office (1913-1921), the Republicans controlled the government and the presidency until Franklin Roosevelt claimed the office in 1933.  After that, there was Democrat as president until Dwight Eisenhower was elected to usher in the fourth cycle.  The Republican tenure saw an expansion of US influence in the world with territories gained during the Spanish-American War, as well as areas like the Panama Canal Zone.  However, it also brought the Great Depression that ended the Republican leadership.  The Democrats continued to increase the global influence of the country by presiding over the involvements in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War; and they did end the Great Depression.

The fourth cycle began in 1957, when President Eisenhower was beginning his second term.  An economic boom had begun during World War II and its effects are still with us today.  There were still many areas of divisiveness as African-Americans, women and immigrants, as well as the younger generation, struggled for economic and social equality. For many years there was a general belief that an equitable solution to all those problems was imminent – though many are still waiting to feel that they are treated as equals.  The “enemy” of the American people during the first part of the cycle was global Communism, and fear of that enemy brought “witch hunts” domestically and a pervasive “Cold War,” as well as actual wars in places like Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon and elsewhere.  In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned against “the acquisition of unwarranted influence … by the military-industrial complex.”  By the 1990s, the Soviet Union and global Communism had fallen and the US became the world’s only superpower.  Under the influence of that military-industrial complex, the country continued to be involved in military actions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but seemed to be acting more as a “nation builder” or as the “cops of the world.”

As this fourth cycle comes to an end, so too does the second term of Barack Obama, the first African American president.  That fact illustrates how far the country has come in healing the wounds of many decades and centuries of slavery and segregation.  There are now millions of children, for instance, who have never known a White president and see President-elect Trump as a kind of novelty.  Nevertheless, it is apparent that the country remains deeply divided politically.  After an acrimonious campaign, the incoming president received several million fewer votes than his major opponent, and lost by substantial margins in more than 20 states, but gained his office through the operation of the Electoral College.

Anyway, now that the United States has celebrated its 240th birthday, it is ready to begin its fifth cycle with a new government headed by a new president, Donald Trump.  Although it may seem tedious, it is instructive to look at the other presidents whose terms (either first or second) began in a Rooster year.  We will start with 1849:

 

1849 – Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president, was the second to die in office.  He served only 15 months before his death.

1861 – Abraham Lincoln guided the nation through a bloody Civil War before he was assassinated shortly after being re-elected.

1873 – Ulysses S. Grant survived his presidency, but his vice president, Henry Wilson, died in office in 1875.

1885 – Grover Cleveland also served his full term, but his vice president, Thomas Hendricks, died in office in 1885.

1897 – William McKinley survived his first term, but his vice president, Garret Hobart, died in office in 1899.  McKinley was re-elected in 1900, but was assassinated in 1901.  1897 was also a Year of the Fire Rooster.

1909 – William Howard Taft was another leader whose vice president, James S. Sherman, died in office (1912).

1921 – Warren G. Harding died while in office in 1923.

1933 – Franklin D. Roosevelt was nearly assassinated shortly after taking office.  His assailant did kill the mayor of Chicago during that incident.  Roosevelt served until the next Rooster year, 1945, when he died while in office.

1945 – Harry S. Truman became president following Roosevelt’s death.

1957 – Dwight D. Eisenhower had a number of health problems while president, including a minor stroke he suffered during a Cabinet meeting in 1957.  This was also a Year of the Fire Rooster.  Eisenhower passed away 12 years later, during another Rooster year.

1969 – Richard Nixon served until he was forced to resign in 1974.

1981 – Ronald Reagan was the subject of an assassination attempt less than ten weeks after taking office.

1993 – Bill Clinton survived his term in office, which was marred by impeachment proceedings.

2005 – George W. Bush began his second term, which he survived.

Certainly, history would indicate that the health of our presidents and vice presidents who begin a term during a Rooster year is a matter of concern.  As was mentioned, President Eisenhower suffered a minor stroke during the last Year of the Fire Rooster, which was 1957.  Some other events that occurred that year were the resignation of Anthony Eden as British prime minister for health reasons, the attempted assassination of Indonesian President Sukarno and the death of Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay in a plane crash.  Again, history would indicate that Mr. Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence should be concerned with their health and safety.

One event that can be predicted with certainty is that a total eclipse of the sun will be visible on a path all across the United States on August 21, 2017.  This will certainly cause a lot of excitement and will generate much tourist activity in the areas along the path of totality.  However, people who believe in and have studied astrology will point out that the eclipse will occur while the sun is in the constellation Leo, and that portends death and misfortune for royalty and nobility.  It will also be noted that the sun’s position at about 28° of Leo is only 1° from the position of the ascendant in Mr, Trump’s birth chart – and that there was a total eclipse of the moon on the day of his birth (June 14, 1946) – so he will be affected more than most people.

If credence is given to these dire indicators, a scenario could be imagined in which there is an attempted assassination of Mr. Trump within the first few months of his presidency followed by a serious health crisis at about the time of the eclipse.  We should all pray for his health and safety and hope that his medical and security teams will be be alert and prepared for whatever may occur.  We need to recognize that some of Trump’s supporters own weapons and may react irrationally if there is an act of violence against him.  The United States does not need that kind of “cock fight.”

Regardless of the health of the country’s top leaders, there are issues that will have to be addressed by the government.  One that has been widely discussed is immigration.   Since roosters are territorial birds who guard the area where the hens are nesting and are wont to attack intruders, immigration policies will probably become more restrictive and refugees will face great difficulties all over the world.

Another important issue is health care.  Unfortunately, many politicians tend to confuse health care with health insurance.  Any civilized society should recognize the need for universal access to health care.  However, for the first part of the coming year Congress may focus instead on the insurance aspect of so-called “Obamacare” under the Affordable Care Act.  With any luck, that focus will change to trying to implement actual affordable care before the year is over.  There should also be important medical breakthroughs this year, though they could be overshadowed by safety issues and major litigation involving pharmaceutical companies.

In international relations, including the area of trade, it appears that the United States will begin the year deeply involved in controversies and conflicts throughout the world, and there will be talk about withdrawing from or renegotiating trade agreements.  However, those actions, together with the continued strength of the U.S. Dollar will hurt American exports and worsen the trade deficit, so the American positions will soften as the year goes on.

It is also important that the new Administration will need to act immediately to appoint someone to fill the existing vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Interestingly, the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed during a Rooster year (1981), Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed during a Rooster year (1993), and Justice O’Connor resigned during a Rooster year (2005).  It is possible, then, that Mr. Trump will surprise everyone and nominate another female to serve on the Court

This past Fire Monkey year has been a difficult one for many Monkeys like the United States. That is especially true for the U.S., since a major cycle was ending.  Those difficulties may continue as this new Year of the Rooster begins, but matters should improve as the year proceeds.  The most obvious variable will be the continued health, or lack thereof, of the President and Vice President.

A more important variable, though, is the way that we the people choose to act and behave.  Each of us is responsible for our own lives and for the ways in which we influence others.  After 240 years, the American experiment with representative democracy still faces problems and there serious disagreements among its participants.  There is no better time than now – the first days and years or a new cycle – to address those issues.  If we wait for our political leaders to make changes, most citizens are going to be even more dissatisfied than they are now.

A few years ago I was participating in a 10k race in Denver.  Around the 4-mile mark I passed another runner and noticed the back of his tee shirt, which read:  “I must hurry to catch them . . .  I am their leader.”  Think about that.

The first part of this article contains predictions relating to other matters and is intended to be read together with this one.

Once again, let me say, gong xi fa cai!  Happy New Year!

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