Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream: Hopes for 2016


If you're of a certain age, you'll recognize the reference in the headline. For the record, lots of people think either Pete Seeger or Paul Simon wrote this song. It's actually from 1950s Folk Revival troubadour Ed McCurdy. But let's put aside musical history. January is the time for resolutions, an activity whose plausibility is roughly on par with giving up things for Lent. Short days and cold nights encourage fantasy, so I'm going really big for 2016. I'm going to dream that an unexplained wave of sanity descends upon the USA in 2016, and that the following things occur:

1.  A Bernie Sanders presidency. Okay, you knew that one was coming from me but seriously, in a sane world would anyone be rooting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? The stench of greed and overall despicability hangs on The Donald like a bad toupee, and Walmart Hill is about as trustworthy as a domesticated rattlesnake. And she's probably less venomous than Marco Rubio, the GOP Stop- Trump darling of the moment. Sanders is the only candidate who actually gives a damn about ordinary people, isn't a gadzillionaire, and is exactly what he says he is.

2. Significant gun control actually happens. I said I was indulging in fantasy, didn't I? What we'll really get in 2016 is more sprays of flowers, more Bullshit sandwiches from the NRA, and lots more funerals. Invest in Teddy bear futures. In 2015, 265 children killed themselves or someone else with a gun. These were not predator or gang killings; these were accidental deaths because, when you leave loaded weapons hanging around, shit happens. So I'm dreaming that during the Great Sanity Epidemic of 2016, we'll actually ban assault rifles, overturn concealed carry laws, and limit the amount of ammunition a person can buy to two bullets at a time (with a proviso you must provide spent cartridges to buy another two). I'd like to ban all weapons, but apparently my dreams are more rational than my conscious mind.

3. The term micro-aggression is banned and thinking is declared mandatory on college campuses. The very idea that college is supposed to be a "safe space" where one's existing beliefs are supported and coddled is absurd. One is supposed to go to college to learn skills, but also to expand one's mind and have preconceptions challenged. In my fantasy, both student and professorial bloviating propagandizers are swept aside by a free-thinking, free-speech, evidence-based tidal wave. It becomes mandatory that each student must consider three alternative points of view for every one they express. In my deep fantasy, I imagine students who publicly proclaim they were "wrong" about something­–anything! I also dream of a student-led backlash that asserts, "If you want a safe haven where people only believe as you believe, get thee to a nunnery." 

 4. Climate change is acknowledged and addressed. In 2106, Americans, Indians, and the Chinese awake one morning and realize that climate change is real and that there will be no future commerce unless it's rolled back. All three nations withdraw subsidies for petroleum, admit that "clean coal" is a hoax, slash their military budgets, and allocate resources for the development of high-capacity batteries, hydrogen cells, and renewal energy sources. Congress passes a bill mandating that, beginning in 2017, no vehicle can be sold that does not get at least 45 mpg, slaps massive carbon taxes on all existing low mpg vehicles and on factories that pump pollutants into the environment, and mandates that all existing vehicles and factories must be energy efficient and emissions-free by 2020. Business industry and petro-chemical stockholders are stunned when the Supreme Court upholds Congressional action. "It's either this or the end of human life," says Anton Scalia, writing for an 8-0 majority, with Justice Thomas abstaining.

5. UMass kills its football program. What a stupid idea it was in the first place! What a waste of money! What kind of an idiot ever imagined the crimson-clad Minutemen would become the Crimson Tide of the Northeast? It's staggering that nobody in the UMass administration has had the courage to say, "Enough!" and end a farce that's costing nearly $9 million per year—all for a terrible team to play in front of 9,000 disinterested people in cavernous Gillette Stadium. The continuation of UMass Bowl Division football has become a classic CYA maneuver for its red-faced progenitors. This program will fail—it already has—but in my fantasy it's put to bed before it bleeds additional millions that could be put to better use.

6. Parents say "no" to football. Since I'm on a gridiron high horse, a sanity outbreak would rot football at the grassroots level. I think football is already a dying sport, but it will take decades at the current disintegration rate. Lots of parents are steering their kids into alternatives like soccer that won't leave their offspring with oatmeal brains by the time they're 28. True sanity would involve a collective refusal to sacrifice young people's brains and bodies for the sake of a TV advertising machine.

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