What If...

Seven scenarios that could spell trouble for Republicans

| September / October 2003

Malcolm Gladwell in his 2000 book The Tipping Point discussed in rapturous detail the mysterious ways in which change occurs, noting that 'ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease.' All it takes sometimes to spark great change, he explained, is a small, seemingly inconsequential action, as when the New York City crime rate plummeted after the city started removing graffiti from the subways. For those of us who despair at the current course of American politics, it's helpful to understand the power of such events to change our world. We offer here a few potential 'tipping points' to watch for in the coming months that could lead to a big shift in America's political landscape.

The U.S. Housing Bubble Bursts

The Federal Reserve continues to lower interest rates in an effort to steady an economy that increasingly relies on new housing starts and mass mortgage refinancing for its anemic growth. But some economists suggest that the real estate market, like the stock market during the dot-com frenzy, is dangerously overvalued. If that bubble bursts, Bush's economic plans will collapse, and millions of middle-class voters will be clamoring for political change.

The 9/11 Commission Calls for Public Hearings

The great untold news story since 9/11 has been the Bush administration's unwillingness to release documents and public testimony that raise serious questions about warnings the president may have received prior to the attacks and his reponse once they had been launched. Some members of Congress are calling for public hearings on the matter, a move that could threaten Bush and his political agenda.

McCain Runs