Monday, January 28, 2019

#28 / Annals Of Prediction: Hold Your Horses!

I read The New York Times every morning, and on Friday, January 25th, I was intrigued to read an Op-Ed piece written by Rachel Bitecofer. That is Bitecofer, pictured above, as she depicts herself on her Twitter page. When not writing Op-Eds for The Times, Bitecofer is Assistant Director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, where she teaches classes on political behavior, campaigns, elections, and political analysis. 

Bitecofer's January 25th Op-Ed is headlined this way: Why Trump Will Lose in 2020. Bitecofer touts  some of her earlier predictions, that turned out to be right, in making the assertion that "we'll spend the next 21 months captivated by an election whose outcome may already be determined...."

It is "negative polarization" that is sure to bring defeat to any Trump reelection effort, at least as Bitecofer sees the future. 

May I suggest that pundits and predictors like Bitecofer try to "hold their horses" just a bit? Past behavior can never predict the future. Tomorrow depends, to a large degree, on a combination of what happened yesterday and what we do today. What we do "today" is always open to innovation and to what Hannah Arendt sometimes calls the "miraculous." In other words, the fact of human freedom is no illusion. We can always do things that are unexpected and unpredictable. I don't like anyone telling me that this isn't true.   

While I appreciate Bitecofer's analysis and argument, and am happy to learn of her past successes at prediction, her headline was way off base. Whatever your reaction to the prediction that "Trump will lose in 2020," my advice is: Don't count on it. That could be a big mistake. The "predictors" said he was going to lose last time, right?

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