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President-elect Biden will spend 2021 trying to return America to what he considers a more normal time, while President Trump tries to lock down control of the GOP — all at a time when misinformation and alternate narratives get even worse.

  • Here are five of the biggest storylines that will shape America next year, according to Axios experts — from politics to business, technology and media.

Biden is going to be "a man on a small, lonely island trying to unite the country," attempting to restore civility and return to normal in an America where that's no longer possible, Axios' Margaret Talev reports.

  • "I think the only thing he really controls is himself, and that's [why] he'll try to use the bully pulpit."

President Trump's expected announcement that he'll run for president again in 2024 allows him "to freeze the Republican Party in place," Axios' Jonathan Swan reports. The timing isn't imminent, but when it happens, "he will try to control the Republican National Committee ... and he's going to try to squash the prospective 2024 Republican field."

  • And to those Republicans who want to run in 2024 themselves and hope Trump will walk off into the sunset: "He ain't doing that."

The rise of alternate universes is on track to get even worse, per Axios' Sara Fischer. "The information economy definitely favors speed and scale, as well as hyperbole. It does not favor facts and measured reporting."

  • "I think there have been a lot of people who have weaponized that reality, including the president. If you want to get a message across, it's actually easier to do it and drive more engagement around it by being sort of hyperbolic and being untruthful than it is being truthful."

If any real moves to crack down on the power of Big Tech happen, they're more likely to come from the regulatory agencies — like the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission — than from Congress, Axios' Ina Fried reports.

  • Yes, but: "The tech companies generally move faster than the regulatory agencies even when the regulatory agencies are actively investigating. That's not a good prognosis for change."

The Federal Reserve "has created this environment where there's no such thing as risk," but that can't go on forever and Wall Street knows it, per Axios' Dion Rabouin.

  • "It's the make-believe economy ... The nuts and bolts of buyers and sellers, of the market, of creating products and selling things, that's not going well at all. But the Fed has just said, if the stock market goes down, we will be here with our fake funny money."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.