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(Why We're Underestimating) The Catastrophic Risk of Another Trump Presidency

(Why We're Underestimating) The Catastrophic Risk of Another Trump Presidency

With Trump pulling ahead in the polls, a nightmare scenario's coming true. America—and the world—faces the prospect of another Trump Presidency. So: you're probably wondering: how bad will it be?

I'm here to tell you it's going to be even worse than you think. The risk of another Trump Presidency is catastrophic, and I don't use the word lightly. Whatever you imagine, you're going to have to zoom out, and think in civilizational terms, in fact.

Let's begin with the economy. What would be the very first thing to happen in another Trump Presidency? Not even on day one, but before day one, there would be a financial crash. An historic one. That's because, assuming that Trump's found guilty in even one of the many cases against him, global financial markets would then have to reckon with the fact that the President of the United States would be a criminal, convicted of fraud.

And guess how many banks would feel, let's say, leery, to understate the case severely, about that? The President of the US doesn't "control" the global financial system, but he does exert more power over it than anyone else in the world. So imagine how banks would feel about exposing their balance sheets to that mind-boggling scale and level of fraud. In short, there'd be a global financial meltdown, to rival the worst in history, and that's the mere beginning.

I begin with the economy precisely because it's the Number One Issue to American voters. Sadly, they're a little bit delusional at the moment, and they "trust Trump more on the economy," which is kind of like asking the rabid fox to guard the little babies. Ironic to say the least. So what would happen after a global financial meltdown?

Next up would be a colossal financial crash for America, this time of a different kind—a debt crisis. So far, America's piled up debt, but it hasn't come due. Why would it? Nobody's demanding their money back from America, because the general understanding is that America's good for it. But put Trump at the helm, this time, convicted of fraud, or not even convicted, and you can understand how swiftly America's debts would be called in. Would you trust Trump to...LOL...pay you back? So America would face probably modern history's greatest debt crisis, one rivaling Latin America or Asian debt crises, only it's economy is at an entirely different scale.

What would happen as a result of that? The global economy would go into a tailspin, from which it wouldn't recover. This is already projected to be a lost decade for economic growth. But now add the risk of a fraudster at the helm of the American economy, and it hardly takes a genius to see how levels of everything, from investment to spending to government expenditure, would begin to crater, in short order. Go ahead and tell me how many countries would think twice about doing business with America during another Trump Presidency. Ask a boardroom or two how comfortable they'd feel investing with the most powerful person in the world infamous for fraud. Brexit Britain's a reasonable guide—fanaticism's made it a global pariah. In this case, though, America's far more crucial to the world economy, which would nosedive, as risk cascaded through the system, from financial markets, to real economies, through civil societies.

But even all this, in truth, is just a mere beginning. Why is the global economy barely functioning as is? Because it's starting to be overwhelmed by the single greatest issue not just of the 21st century, but in human history: climate change. And the dismal, disturbing fact is that another Trump Presidency would basically doom our efforts to fight climate change, more or less full stop, irreversibly.

Trump's made no secret of his animosity to climate issues—he could care less, really, about climate change in any way whatsoever. A Trump Presidency wouldn't just yank America out of all the agreements and protocols that exist now—which aren't sufficient, but still, at least are something—it'd basically throw a grenade or few hundred at them. Trumpist officials would effectively be monkeywrenches destroying the world's ability to coordinate, and take collective action, diplomatically, to do something about climate change.

This isn't 2016. It's now almost a decade later. And this decade is the crucial one. It's the last remaining window we have to really do something about climate change, beginning with just stabilizing our global emissions. But now imagine Trump's President—not only does he hate China, giving them no reason to cooperate on fossil reductions, but instead alienates them with a trade war, worse, he doesn't care about America's emissions, whose curve has been painstakingly bent. So what we'd expect to see during a Trump Presidency is the worst thing imaginable at this chapter in human history, which is global carbon emissions rising swiftly, all over again.

I don't say that lightly—the worst thing imaginable. The costs of climate change, we're discovering, are astronomical. So big that the world's largest, richest, most powerful organizations find themselves impotent, dwarfed, and the size of gnats. Why have insurers pulled out of places like California and Florida? Because they can't pay the costs of climate change—instead, their actuaries are making utterly catastrophic estimates, like the ones we've discussed recently, about climate change destroying half our economies by 2070.

So now imagine emissions rising. Only this time, see dollar signs, catastrophe, and ruin. The world's already entering the Age of Extinction, and our economies are slowing, struggling, and sputtering precisely because we can't pay the costs of climate change—from inflation to debt to destruction. But if that accelerates, as emissions rise? Then we are cooked. Our economic future really does lie in ruins. Go ahead and tell me what "it'll be worse than possibly half our economies being destroyed" means.

Nobody can pay those prices. Not a single bank, corporation, person, institution on planet earth. And when costs can't be paid, what happens? Financial systems seize up. Economies go into depressions. People's living standards fall. Chaos and conflict arise, feeding on despair, tragedy piling atop catastrophe. In the end, if all the above is even in the slightest way accurate, history will remember Trump as the man who defrauded a planet and civilization of a future, and again, I don't say that lightly.

Now let's zoom back into the American context. What else do we know about the risks of another Trump Presidency? Well, there's already a plan, a long, sophisticated, and comprehensive one, to basically purge government, and reshape it along fascist-authoritarian lines. So America would cease to be a democracy.

Americans think about that in their own context, but think about in terms of the world first, and then come back to America, if you really want to understand its consequences. The world's most powerful country would no longer be a democracy.

What would that mean? It'd be yet another civilizational death knell, a sure sign of a Dark Age rising. What it'd also do is wreck any last semblance of global cooperation possible. All the institutions that we built in the ashes of the last World War—from the IMF and World Bank, to the UN, to the World Food Program, and many, many more, which basically are the modern unseen infrastructure that keeps the world as we know it going—all these would basically turn to dust. They'd be incapable of functioning very well at all, because now the most powerful country on the planet, no longer a democracy, would be at their throats, and worse, would be doing its level best from stopping them doing their jobs, which is basically being the foundations of democracy everywhere else, whether their financial, social, economic, or political supporting structures.

The modern democratic world as we know it would basically cease to exist. Again, I don't...say that lightly. You see, America assumed a leadership role in most of these institutions after the last World War because it was the one country, at least wealthy one, that was considered to be safe from autocracy. And so it has tremendous and special powers over these institutions, too, mostly, and yet they create the modern democratic world as we know it, even if we don't know them. Who's going to negotiate the treaties and deals and agreements—in a world running short of food, water, and clean air—for things as simple as those elemental goods? Who's going to lay the diplomatic foundations for cooperation and collective action? How is the world going to resolve conflicts and solve problems together? Allocate resources? Agree on all the things we need to do next, from carbon taxes to wealth taxes to updating GDP and laws and rights? Bang. Lights out.

Now think of America again. This time, it'd be for real. The first Trump era was frightening and dislocating, but there was the sense that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. This one will feel more like a...coffin. Democracy coming to an end isn't something that unends. We all know that from cursory glances at history, from the contemporary state of, for example, the Arab World and beyond, to history proper, whether classical, like, of course, Rome, or modern, like Weimar Germany.

American democracy would be over, and it'd be for good. Americans sort of grasp that, but don't fully understand it well, I think. What it means is that no rescue would be coming, and no help would be available, because the end of American democracy would basically be a signal of the the end of democracy, period, civilizationally. That doesn't mean "there are no more democracies," but it does mean the remaining ones, Canada and Europe, essentially, with a few others beside them, are the last holdouts, in a world going dark, resisting the tide, defying gravity. It'd mean, in essence, that democracy would be very much the exception in a world going dark, and as that happened, Americans themselves would have less and less places to turn, too, whether for guidance, or support, or friendship, cooperation, problem-solving, alliances, and ties.

So. That's a brief summary. How catastrophic is the risk of another Trump Presidency? Like I said, it's way, way worse than I'd imagine most people think. Financial crisis. Debt crisis. Economic crash. Climate change's worse case scenarios becoming real, and being locked in for good, altering the course of human history. Risk of every kind cascading through systems, ripping people's lives apart, as a worldwide depression sets in, as everyone from banks to corporations slash as fast and furiously as they can, trying to make good what they're owed while they still can, because nobody can pay the costs of polycrises accelerating into oblivion now. Democracy crashing to a halt globally, and centuries of progress, right down to the lessons of the last two World Wars, turning to ashes. What kind of world and future does that leave?

You tell me if "catastrophic" does it justice.

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