USA abuzz with Meghan’s presidential plans

Royal rulers: In 15 years time, the world stage could look very different.

Is it possible to forecast the future? Meghan Markle may one day run to be US president – if you believe the rumours. Tempted to scoff? Many stranger things have happened, say the experts.

Far away, among the dusty desert hills of Santa Barbara, California, lives a very modern power couple.

He is the prince who left his homeland for a new life with his new bride. She is the successful Hollywood actress who shunned a royal role to speak out against racism.

Every day, their audience – and their connections – are growing.

Prince Harry has many roles in life: he is a former working royal, an army veteran, a podcast producer and an amateur poultry farmer. But this week, he found two more jobs to add to that list. Just 24 hours after being named the “Chief Impact Officer” of a Silicon Valley life coaching company, the Duke joined a committee to tackle fake news in America.

And earlier this month, millions tuned in to watch the Duchess of Sussex tell her side of the story behind the royal rift in a dramatic television interview.

Now, royal watchers are more certain than ever before: Markle will use the couple’s newfound platform to become America’s first female president.

Is it a crazy idea? Imagine this: the year is 2036, and crowds are cheering wildly on the streets of Washington DC as CNN declares 55-year-old Meghan Markle the winner of yet another rancorous presidential election.

In the distance, her triumphant husband takes a call of congratulations from his brother, King William of England. Prince Harry knows exactly what he will do as First Gentleman – after all, he has years of experience as both a mental health and media expert.

As he says goodbye to his brother, another caller appears on the line: it is Kwasi Kwarteng, the newly elected prime minister of the United Kingdom.

But is imagining the future like this a waste of time?

Some say no, nothing is impossible. In 1994, 15 years before his inauguration, Barack Obama was a 32-year-old law lecturer at the University of Chicago. Few people knew his name – and of those who did, none would have dreamed that the young African-American standing before them would one day be the most powerful person in the world.

The art of predicting the future is hardly a modern phenomenon. In Ancient Rome, augurists interpreted the flight of birds to help make vital military decisions. Meanwhile, the prophets of the Old Testament eagerly foretold the second coming of the Messiah.

Today, humans may no longer believe a list of future presidents can be found in the world of birds, but forecasting is still big business.

In 2011, psychologist Philip Tetlock responded to a US government competition to find better ways of predicting the future.

The result was the Good Judgement Project. Tetlock recruited thousands of ordinary people to make a series of forecasts about the future. Several months later, he selected the most successful and named them “the superforecasters”.

Tetlock’s group of superforecasters even trounced policy experts – who, despite their security clearance, turned out to be no better at predicting the future than chimpanzees throwing darts at a board.

Is it possible to forecast the future?

Aiming high

No, say some. Humans may have an innate desire to think ahead but actually forecasting the future with any degree of accuracy remains impossible. The rumours surrounding Meghan Markle are wild speculation. Even today, expert pollsters routinely fail to predict who will win major elections. Without any concrete evidence, it is meaningless to try and guess who will be the US president in 2036.

Of course, say others. From weather to politics to the stock markets, forecasting is a vital part of our everyday lives. Of course, no one can actually see the future in advance, but this is not about magic or making random guesses. The superforecasters prove that by applying logical thinking to events happening in the present, it is possible to forecast the future with a great deal of accuracy.

You Decide

  1. Would Meghan Markle make a good president?
  2. Is the American president really the “leader of the free world”?

Activities

  1. In groups, make a list of five predictions for life in 2036. How accurate do you think you can be?
  2. Imagine you are Meghan Markle’s presidential campaign manager. Write a speech for her to give to the American people upon winning the election.

Some People Say...

“The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), American lawyer and president

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is generally agreed that Meghan Markle’s journey from Hollywood actress to US president is far from impossible. Although royalty would be a first in the White House, actors would not. Ronald Reagan, who led the US throughout the 1980s, worked in film prior to becoming president. When a journalist asked him how an actor could run for president, he replied: “How can a president not be an actor?” Now, a close friend of Markle says the Duchess would “seriously consider” a presidential bid.
What do we not know?
One main area of debate surrounds whether Americans would accept a former princess as their leader. The rumours of Markle’s political ambitions were fuelled by the couple’s visit to California’s Governor last autumn, and their statement urging voters to “respect hate speech” before last year’s election. But prominent feminist Gloria Steinem believes Meghan’s title could be a hindrance in America: “The whole idea of ‘princess’ is a problem. We had a whole revolution to get rid of monarchy.”

Word Watch

Silicon Valley
The Duke will be paid for his role at BetterUp, a mental health and life coaching company which aims to “reframe how we think about human flourishing”.
Fake news
Prince Harry will volunteer his time to help a non-profit organisation study misinformation and examine “the modern day crisis of faith in key institutions”.
Royal rift
Markle met with American entertainment royalty, Oprah to discuss why the couple left England, and the racism and abuse they say they suffered from the media and British society.
President
Anonymous sources have told journalists that Markle is networking among senior Democrats in the US. And the Duke and Duchess are now working with Genevieve Roth, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
CNN
American broadcaster CNN, which stands for Cable News Network, was the first 24 hour news service on television.
Rancorous
So far, the average age for US Presidents on the day of their inauguration is 55. Markle will be 55 in January 2037.
Kwasi Kwarteng
The British politician is currently the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and a rising star of the Conservative party.
Augurists
In Ancient Rome, an augurist was a diviner who foretold events by watching the behaviour of birds and other animals.
Superforecasters
The superforecasters, who included artists, economists and entrepreneurs, used logic, rather than superior knowledge, to make their predictions.

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