The Future Issue: Politics, sex, bitcoin, ark park, aliens and more

Rather than look back on the year 2017, as the rear-view mirror of life always makes objects seem smaller and rosier, we will look into the future for Louisville and Kentucky, and farther afield, as well. We asked people from a range of backgrounds, perspectives and outlooks to spend a few words on the future, as they predict it will be — or how they would want it to be. Not at all predictable were their answers…

2018: begin working to survive
By Marc Murphy
Maybe the best way to discuss the future, and 2018, is to imagine how it will be considered, say, 50 years from now. Predictions at this point are too depressing, so I’ll just ask questions, and hope the year provides the right answers. There are right answers, and wrong ones. These aren’t rhetorical questions.

Will the United States attempt to retake the place it relinquished among world leadership in human rights, climate change and the support of democratic institutions?

Will elected representatives at every level choose country over party or their personal interests?

Will civilian, religious and other leaders preach empathy and hope rather than hate and fear?

In short, will we begin to do what we have to, to survive?

Marc Murphy is a trial lawyer in Louisville and Courier Journal political cartoonist.

2018: Democrats, to the left, to the left
By Molly Shah
In 2018, Louisville Democrats should stop governing like Republicans. Democrats control the Metro City Council and nearly all county-wide offices.

Louisville should be leading the nation in progressive policies.

We should be ending income inequality and police violence, and improving abortion access and public education.

Instead, in 2017, Louisville hurt the most vulnerable members of our community. Democrats destroyed a homeless embankment, refused to protect Kentucky’s last abortion clinic, pushed charter schools, halted investigations of police violence, covered up the Explorer scandal and rejected a living wage. Promoting Louisville as a “Compassionate City” while 29 percent of our population lives in poverty is obscene.

Blue-dot cities like Louisville could be a check on the tyranny of Donald Trump, but only if we challenge Democrats to fight him. In 2018, let’s confront Louisville Democrats about their record. Let’s have competitive primaries and progressive third-party candidates. Debates are not a threat; they are necessary for meaningful resistance. Democrats should stop relying on women, people of color and the LGBTQ community to vote for them, with little to show for it.

No party is owed anyone’s vote.

If Louisville wants electable progressive candidates in both the short and long term we should keep pushing Democrats to the left. Bland candidates with no convictions beyond what they think makes them electable, will drive off voters. Progressive values are popular, and Louisvillians will vote for candidates who stand up for their values. It’s time to stop giving Democrats a free pass for just not being Republicans.

Molly Shah is an activist and organizer with Parents for Social Justice.

Scott Jenning’s 2018 Crystal Ball
By Scott Jennings
Louisville gets a competitive mayor’s race. This is a good thing in a town that hasn’t had a meaningful local debate since 2010, when Republican Hal Heiner narrowly lost to current Mayor Greg Fischer (D). Since then, Louisville’s homicide rate has spiked dramatically, locals are up in arms over bike lanes, and a Metro Police Department scandal “in which half a dozen former Explorer Scouts say they were propositioned, molested or intimidated by former officers” engulfs the department. Fischer, unchallenged four years ago, faces Metro Council Member Angela Leet (R), an impressive conservative with the capacity to give Louisvillians a serious discussion about this town’s direction.

Bitcoin brings pain to dummies. People taking out mortgages to buy into this modern day tulip mania regret it. The smart money is on fingerling monkey toy stock.

Robert Mueller indicts more people. People are too stupid not to lie.

Sex scandals engulf Washington. A bunch of congressmen retire. Divorce lawyers rejoice.

Republicans save the DREAMERS. The GOP Congress cuts a deal saving the children of illegal immigrants from deportation (and if they don’t President Trump extends Obama’s legally dubious executive order protecting their status). DREAMERS deserve certainty and the Republicans must deliver a permanent legislative solution.

Tiger Woods almost wins the Masters. But his comeback is stifled by Kim Jong Un, who joins the PGA Tour and fires a final round 18 to shock the world. Kim’s new green outerwear immediately becomes the most colorful clothing item in North Korea. Trump bombs North Korea into oblivion in October to recover the green jacket for America, boosting GOP electoral prospects.

Oh, and patrols are doubled at Alabama’s Gadsden Mall for the foreseeable future as a certain local resident has too much time on his hands.

Scott Jennings can be reached at [email protected] He is a former advisor to President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is cofounder of RunSwitch Public Relations. 

A queerer Kentucky in 2018
By Chris Hartman
In President Trump’s new America, which hasn’t just jumped the shark — it’s eaten it too — I’ll offer my hyperbolic predictions for a queerer Kentucky in 2018.

1. Upset by the attention Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is receiving from its really gay rainbow lights, the Belle of Louisville heads upriver to challenge the Ark in a no holds barred big gay boat-off. Whichever ship sashays a gaggle of gays down south to their Atlantis Cruise the quickest, Shantay, she stays.

2. Not to be outdone by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s controversial rainbow crosswalk, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer paints the full length of the Big Four Bridge in resplendent rainbow and reopens it with his inaugural Big Four Drag Race. Unfortunately, it incurs a copyright infringement lawsuit from newly minted Kentucky Senator Ru Paul, who’s holding the seat for cousin Rand while he recovers.

3. Alas, Kim Davis loses her re-election bid to David Ermold, to whom she denied a marriage license in 2015. Scorned by her community, she seeks refuge with former savior Mike Huckabee, who invites Kim to live in the basement with his daughter, Sarah. Six months later, Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls a White House press conference to announce her engagement to Kim Davis, who heads back to the Rowan County Courthouse to request her marriage license from Ermold, who actually does his job and lets Kim and Sarah affirm their love with a lavish Mar-a-Lago marriage.

Chris Hartman is the director of the Fairness Campaign.

Next governor, a woman or a young, black man
By Frank X Walker
I’ve never been good at prognostication, but I am generally swimming in hope. I followed the U.S. Senate race in Alabama fairly closely, because I lived and taught there for almost three years and still return as often as I can to present and teach workshops in schools, universities and the juvenile correctional institutions (and to patronize the Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses), so it would come as no surprise that I was thrilled with Roy Moore’s loss. Actually not just thrilled, but immediately even more hopeful. What did surprise me was the glaring disparity between white women and black women voters. 63 percent of white women supported Roy Moore versus 2 percent of black women, who overwhelmingly supported Jones, his opponent, at 98 percent. The fact that the majority of white people who voted in Alabama voted for Moore is disheartening. However, to see black voters decide the outcome of an important election, and eclipse almost 600,000 votes for Moore, hopefully makes it easier for black voters as a collective to recognize their true voting power and to begin to get more of what we deserve from future candidates around the country regardless of their party affiliation.

If the voter advocacy of Freedom Riders and Medgar Evers could be renewed to bring a resurgence in voter registration throughout the South, if we could find candidates who could generate some of that 2008 Obama optimism that yielded record turnouts in black communities and across every demographic, we could lay the foundation to reverse the dangerous skid this country has been on since the current Gropemander in chief came into office.

I hope the current level of activism will yield new and lasting coalitions that will fuel the 2018 midterms and send Kentucky U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and his ilk packing. I don’t think Ricky Jones will be voted in by the UofL Board of Trustees as the new university president, but I’d love to see him run for public office. He and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in Washington would be such a victory for the Commonwealth. I’m hopeful that the abuses Kentucky has endured under the current governor will guarantee that we won’t repeat that low voter turnout mistake again. Our state needs a breath of fresh air in the worst way. When we finally figure out how to clean up this dirty house and throw out McConnell, Paul and Bevin, and come to realize that it’s not a whim but a desire by those of us who know we deserve better, I predict the next governor will be a woman or a young, black man whose voice, when you close your eyes, would make you swear that it was Barack Obama crooning an Al Green anthem.

Frank X Walker is a Poet Laureate of Kentucky and a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, having divined the word “Affrilachia,” underscoring the presence of African-Americans in Appalachia.

2018: the Upside Down
By Lucie Witt
Sitting down to write my predictions and hopes for 2018, I feel like the kids from “Stranger Things” gathering around a folding card table to play a round of D&D. On one side of the board is the world I’ve always known, full of its own dangers, but dangers I know how to navigate. In 2018, I’m planning family trips and wondering about the future of publishing, and if Barnes and Noble will keep hanging on.  I’m visiting Louisville’s lovely parks and libraries. I’m working daily to #resist like countless people across the Commonwealth, and gearing up for midterms.

But then there’s the other side of the board, and the other 2018 — the Upside Down. In the Upside Down, in 2018, I’m focused on obtaining passports for my family in case we can’t obtain the new, expensive drivers licenses Kentucky residents will need for airline travel in 2019 (or, you know, in case my interracial family has to flee the country). I’m considering the national parks I should visit before they’re cut up and divvied out to the highest bidder, and trying to figure out which important cultural entities will survive if the new tax bill passes and the charitable deduction is nixed. I’m preparing to vote in an election that is not guaranteed to be free nor fair, and where (white) liberals will surely continue to ignore the people of color who make up the democratic base and are disproportionately harmed by voter suppression efforts.

My biggest hope for 2018 is that more people realize we’re in the Upside Down and fight like hell to right the board.

Lucie Witt is a writer, recovering attorney, and guest lecturer on topics related to gender and the law.

A Future In Freakdom
By William Benton
“… it’s time for New Traditions … ” — Devo
I was 8 years old when I figured it all out: My life was a mass experiment engineered by aliens to test my personal limits and reactions. I was their guinea pig and the only authentic human being.

And I was already bored with being poked and prodded by what appeared to be a real “cowboy outfit,” as far as experiments go. They were doing some real shoddy work if I had figured out, at such a young age, that there were only about a dozen or so characters in the world; and that they were given a different name and only slightly different clothes and hairstyles in each new town we moved to. They were dispatched accordingly, and they tried to act like human beings as a way to study and experiment on little ol’ me.

And now, as I enter my fourth decade, I realize that my subsequent involvement in music has largely supported the alien study theory. (Related: a bandmate of mine, when referring to the small pool of musicians that comprise so many projects and bands in town, called Louisville “the Taco Bell menu of music scenes.” Which isn’t really a bad thing, I suppose. It just depends on how much you like those ingredients.)

That hat may be a very narrow view. I don’t think Louisville is especially unique in this way as I’d bet that every city has its own version of this. But we hear and hear about the same people all of the time and the result is a very shallow musical gene pool due to the incestuous practices. Louisville has always been very clique-centric on the music side of things and I don’t really expect any of that to ever change.

And that’s OK by me. I like it.

For I tend to innately subscribe to the Ricky Roma practice of “betting the other way”; and that has kept me interested and searching for inspiration and excitement. I like the weirdos; the real weirdos. There are very few surprises out there, unfortunately, in a music world that is mostly inhabited by very comfortable, antiseptic personalities that produce exactly the kind of stuff you’d expect from such conditions.

Technical execution and the “novelty of noises” prevail in most circles — excusing those uncomfortable and often messy categories of expression, passion, wit, humor and innovation.

But age has taught me that no matter what crew is on the bridge steering the ship, we all move along with a general current. And as slow as that current moves, an equally slow evolution over the duration of our journey occurs as well.

The truth is, I’m not really interested in that crew on the bridge or the results of their mass-evolution. (Hell, I can’t make myself interested in “mass” anything it seems.) I’m on the lookout for the mutations on our evolutionary journey. The real freaks. Give me the one with a second head or a third eye. Show me your tail! That’s where the really interesting ideas and sounds are: hiding in the dark places. Waiting to be invited out.

That said, somewhere along my sordid path in life, the real truth revealed itself: I am, in fact the alien. While there might only be a dozen or so personality varieties within the musical sphere, many of them are most certainly, the actual human beings — and most of them are frightfully boring, as is their creative output. (Christopher Hitchens — while not always the most popular person to quote — once noted: “It has often been said that everyone has a novel inside of them. Often, that is where it should remain.”)

But you can’t blame or hate on them. They’re only human.

But I’m with those other aliens; the mutants and misfits. I look forward to hearing their beautiful chaos; the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking songs of loss and confusion. And the absolutely indescribable building up inside of some of the more obscured, waiting for the right time to be released into the world.

Maybe 2018 will be their year? We will require an appropriate soundtrack for wholesale environmental, social and political collapse.

Freaks: get to work.

William Benton is a musician who has played with such seminal Louisville bands as Lucky Pineapple and Phantom Family Halo, and performs under the name Cat Casual.