To harness hopes to practical prospects is the trick, and amidst the seasonal uplift I’d rather err on the hopeful side as long as I can walk there. So here are some hopes:
1. At least one Democratic house of Congress next November. The Senate looks more movable than the House, but if Bush doesn’t pull miracles out of his tin hat, either is (if remotely) possible.
2. A minimally decent Iraqi government that stands on its own tripod. Preferably one that can stitch together sensibles, secularists, and practical people of various tendencies with a conviction that they can manage without the Americans – or Iran.
3. Not unrelated to 2., an American commitment to renounce permanent bases in Iraq.
4. A new publisher of the New York Times, someone more grown-up than Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, less witless, less tolerant of servility in Washington. (For particulars, see Ken Auletta’s profile in the New Yorker (19 December 2005) and my own review of the Judy Miller/Bob Woodward follies in the January American Prospect.)
5. More indictments of high criminals and misdemeaniacs from Patrick Fitzgerald and other prosecutors looking into the malfeasances of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and other Republican grandees.
6. The Chinese Communist Party recognising that its legitimacy is in shreds and that the only way to recoup losses is to give free play to democratic currents – serious law, open debate, multiple parties.
7. A simultaneous decision by fundamentalists of all stripes that it’s long past time to tamp down their crazies.
8. From Europeans, deep recognition that integrating Muslims is hard – and necessary. From Americans, deep recognition that torture is a bad foreign policy. A lot less smugness all around.
9. Global post-Kyoto competition over who can invest more intelligently in sustainable, non-CO2-producing energy.
But before this list veers any closer to cloud-cuckooland, I’d better sign off. As the man said, you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.