With the help of the amazing Magic 8 Ball, I’ll be making uncanny predictions about political events in 2013. For those of you who suffered deprived childhoods and never played with a Magic 8 Ball, let me briefly describe it to you. The Magic 8 Ball is a hollow sphere filled with an astonishing dark fluid which appears at first glance simply to be an 8 ball used to play pool. But it is much more. A die with 20 faces each bearing a different answer floats in the mysterious fluid. When asked a yes or no question, one of those 20 answers magically appears in a window in the cube, providing an unerring prediction of the future.
Are you ready to peer into the future? Let’s start with questions about state politics. “Magic 8 Ball, will Democrats and Republicans in the legislature get along better than they did in the last session?” The Magic 8 ball says, “Without a doubt.”
Actually, that’s an easy question. Relations between the parties hit an an all-time low in the Republican – dominated legislature. They could hardly get worse. The national magazine Mother Jones ranked the Bill O’Brien-led legislature third from the bottom among the 50 states, providing a ready explanation why Democrats are now in the majority.
Next question: “Magic 8 Ball, will the cigarette tax be raised 10 cents?” The answer: “It is certain.”
That’s another easy question. When Republicans reduced the cigarette tax by 10 cents in the last legislature (imperiling the public’s health in the process), they expected an increase in sales would make up for the loss in tax revenue. Instead the clever cigarette manufacturers simply raised the price 10 cents, keeping the price the same, pocketing increased profits, and leaving the state with a $20 million loss in tax revenue. Nice going, GOP. The cigarette tax will be increased to recoup the lost taxes.
“Magic 8 Ball, will school vouchers continue to be used to give public tax funds to private school students in violation of the New Hampshire Constitution’s ban on using public taxes for religious purposes?” The answer: “My reply is no.” The Magic 8 Ball adamantly refuses to provide further information, but assures me that, one way or another, school voucher use will end.
“Magic 8 Ball, will the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes become law?” The Magic 8 Ball says (surprise, surprise) “Most likely.”
In the past, opposition by Gov. Lynch derailed medical marijuana. Gov.-elect Hassan is more likely to be receptive this time around.
“Magic 8 Ball, is an increase in the state gasoline tax in the offing?” The answer: “Cannot predict now.”
I can see why the Magic 8 Ball is hesitant. On the one hand, added revenue is desperately needed to repair New Hampshire’s dilapidated roads and creaky bridges. Moreover, New Hampshire’s gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1991, and is one of the lowest in the nation. However, neither Gov-elect Hassan, who ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, nor the legislature, which has a phobia about taxes, will want to increase them.
Now, I have a two for the price of one question. “Magic 8 Ball, despite the Republican supermajority, in the last legislative session both so-called Right To Work legislation and attempts to repeal marriage equality were defeated. Will these attempts be any more successful in 2013? The 8 Ball replies, “My reply is no.”
Now, let’s shift to the national scene. “Magic 8 Ball, will the GOP change its attitude and become more sympathetic toward immigrants, women, and homosexuals?” The 8 Ball replies, “You may rely on it.”
That’s another easy question. Just how long can the GOP deny reality and still expect to win elections? The composition of Americans is changing before our eyes. The white population will lose its majority status by 2043. More women now earn college degrees than do men. And the public in general is rapidly becoming more accepting of gays.
“Magic 8 Ball, will the 2016 presidential campaign begin next year?” “Yes, definitely,” says the 8 Ball.
In 2005, five months after George W. Bush was sworn in as President for a second term, Gov. Bill Richardson came a courting New Hampshire Democrats. Who is most likely to lead the parade of candidates into the Granite State this time? When I stare very hard at the Magic 8 ball, the names of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and Republican Senator Marco Rubio float before my eyes.
I have a final question for the Magic 8 Ball. “Do you firmly believe that all your predictions will come true?” The 8 Ball replies, “Don’t count on it.” And then I could swear I heard a quiet, little chuckling sound.
And while I have the opportunity, may I wish many of you Merry Christmas. And others, Happy Hanukkah. And still others Happy Kwanzaa. And for the rest of you who enjoy the season for no particular reasons other than the good fellowship, delicious foods, beautiful music and delightful decorations, may I offer you Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays. May 2013 be good to us all.