Let me begin by saying that I have no psychic insights. Instead all I can do is to mull over the possibilities from a temporal distance of four months and consider realistic possibilities of what the US Election in Nov 2020 will bring.
There are of course two distinct possibilities – Biden or Trump. Both are equally frightening, I’ll explain why in a moment.
First, let me establish my track record. I was sure that Hillary would win. My thinking was that when it came down to the wire, there could not possibly be a sufficient number of people who were stupid enough to vote the incompetent and corrupt buffoon into office. Alas, too many were determined to prove me quite wrong about that. Unfortunately, my fears regarding the consequences of that Trump win turned out to also be wrong, it has been far far worse.
US Election 2016 – Actually Hillary did win
As we all know, despite the many decades of demonisation consisting of utterly absurd conspiracy claims associated with her name, she won the popular vote, but because the electoral collage system does not accurately reflect population sizes, she officially lost …
Looking back, I’d speculate that she is perhaps relieved that it panned out that way. If she had taken a seat on the Oval office, she would have been faced with a very hostile Red Senate and Red House. With such legislative handcuffs, she would not have been able to incarnate her vision for a better world.
US Election 2020 – What happens if Trump Wins
Right now it would appear that he will not. Actually, that view depends upon whom you listen to.
- FiveThirtyEight has Biden in a clear lead (assuming a vote today – July 2020) A great deal can happen between now and the election. Biden might fall ill, Trump might drop out, etc…
- Stony Brook professor Helmut Norpoth, who has correctly predicted five out of six elections since 1996, uses his model to give Trump a 91 per cent chance of winning.
- Side note: He ignores opinion surveys. He measures the degree of enthusiasm candidates are able to generate early in the nominating process. Since Biden lost Iowa and New Hampshire, and Trump had no such losses, Trump comes out on top.
- What his model fails to consider is what the pandemic has done. Trump’s incompetence has led to a rapidly increasing body count.
If Trump really does win, then we don’t need to guess what will happen. We have all experienced the reality. In essence, the rich will get richer, the poor will become poorer, and administration corruption will continue unabated. Society will become even more divided, and religious intolerance and bigotry will continue to ascend and become even more deeply entrenched.
As for the elephant in the room, not as a reference to the GOP symbol, but rather to the greatest challenge we as a species have ever faced, namely climate change, we will continue to fail to take meaningful action, and will reap the consequences of that inaction.
US Election 2020 – What Happens if Biden Wins
This is where I do really worry. I alluded to this earlier. My fears don’t concern a Biden administration, but rather relate to how Trump’s MAGA crowd will handle a loss.
The prevailing GOP narrative is one in which Democrats are not portrayed as legitimate, but rather as extreme Marxists, intent upon burning the Republic to the ground. They are asserted (on the basis of exactly zero evidence) to be utterly corrupt, and that if they did win, then they did so by rigging the election. All such paranoid claims are utterly false, but Trump has massaged and nurtured this narrative. He dishonestly promotes such thinking as a tool to manipulate his base into supporting him.
In the event of a loss, what then happens when you have literally millions who embrace this political mythology as truth?
You have rather a lot of people who would feel wholly justified in taking up arms to overthrow what they would sincerely but falsely believe to be a threat to freedom and democracy.
This narrative is there, Trump is openly deploying fear. Only a few days ago he falsely portrayed the anti-racist protests within his Rushmore speech as a … “merciless campaign to wipe our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.“.
It is not just Trump. American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp warned his 193,000 followers …
“if the Marxist leaders [Democrats] have their way, we will celebrate Independence Day for the last time as a free people”
My deep worry is that the stage is being set for a violent response.
I’m not alone in holding this fear
Brian Klaas, a University College London professor of global politics who studied political violence in non-western nations as part of his doctoral fieldwork, told me he “would be surprised if there is not at least some sporadic low-level violence around the election” in the event of a Trump loss, as a result of his frequent promotion of conspiracy theories and explicit arguments against Biden’s legitimacy as a candidate.
“Our election is looking much more like an election in developing world countries…and what really worries me about this is that the [Republican] base has been primed to not believe that the election is legitimate if Trump loses… [Trump also] suggests that if the Democrats were to win, that this would be the end of life in the United States,” he said.
“In modern American history, there has never been a major mainstream political figure who has argued that his opponents are not legitimate,” Klaas continued, adding that the “high concentration of weapons among Donald Trump’s supporters,” plus the “steady diet of information that tells them that they are the last defense for America against some conspiracy against them” in most conservative media, is a toxic combination that could cause an unstable person to respond to a Trump loss by lashing out violently.
“People who have really worked themselves up in this vortex of disinformation… and have really gone down the rabbit hole… may take Trump’s tweets literally and say: ‘OK, they’re my enemies, they’re committing treason, they’re part of the Deep State, and it’s time to be a patriot and stand up against them,’” he said. “That would be very, very dangerous.”
Do what is right
We should not permit such fears from deterring us from doing what is right. Vote for integrity, honesty, tolerance, and basic decency.
But be aware, none of paths on the road ahead will be easy.