Trump Round Two: What if he wins?

  • November 2, 2020
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What if Trump wins? – Democratic Article

As results poured in nation-wide, Democrats looked at the mounting disaster with stark disbelief. Despite record turnout, unprecedented stability of polling and widespread predictions of victory, the unthinkable happened.

The loss of Florida was initially greeted with calm; there were other battleground states left. But when Michigan went his way, panic mounted. All eyes turned towards Pennsylvania. After the two days needed to count all the mail ballots – forbidden to be opened before election day itself – it was revealed that he had edged the state by less than a few thousand votes.

Of course, the commander-in-chief had already claimed victory as soon as Michigan had been declared; at 3 a.m that night, he tweeted ‘THANK YOU AMERICA FOR THE BIGGEST AND BEST RESULTS IN OUR HISTORY’. By 6 November, it was clear that dawn had risen on the re-elected President Donald Trump.

This is the nightmare scenario, and it could still happen. While all polling indicates a likely Biden victory – the author paused here to ferociously touch wood – there is the very real chance that Trump could still win. What happens if he does, and what do we do? What does it mean for the United States and the world?

There is no way to make an exhaustive list of all the hypothetical results; this is true for any presidency but even more so for a second Trumpian era. Attempting to predict his policy and behaviour is like pushing a pram down a rocky slope – you know it is going to go downhill fast and horrible to watch, but you can’t say what exact path it will take. But we can try and outline some expectations, both short and long-term.

For every progressive in America, pain will be the immediate impact. This may sound rather sentimental but it is critical.

What does this say for the Democrat Party when after four years of gaffes, and in the midst of a global pandemic causing a massive recession, that they still couldn’t win? That they couldn’t beat a message-less campaign, a rotating cast of operational leadership and severe cash flow problems? That they couldn’t translate their own visceral dislike of Trump into victory? This pain and disbelief will be mixed with the knowledge that Biden will have almost certainly won the popular vote overwhelmingly and that Trump benefited by accident and design from voter suppression.

The knee-jerk reaction will be to radicalise, and hard. What, Democrat activists will say, is the point of selecting apparent establishment moderates like Clinton and Biden if they lose? The Democrat Party will shift very rapidly into a more left-wing and anti-establishment party. They will almost certainly reject the moral legitimacy of President Trump and the electoral structures that placed him in the White House for a second time.

The Republican Party will be experiencing a parallel re-forging but in the heat of victory. Every Republican that expressed doubt about Trump’s leadership will be purged or brow-beaten into irrelevance at speed. The Republican Party will complete its journey into being the ‘Trump, family and friends’ show. At the same time, the results will produce an acute paranoia borne from the fact that this would make it the seventh presidential election – out of eight – where the Republicans did not win the popular vote.

The modern republican party has always grappled with their inherent electoral problems of being frankly unpopular, amongst the population as a whole, by trying to boost their turnout and decrease that of the democrats. Trump’s election will cause a doubling-down of their anti-democratic nature; their future will lie in them repeatedly abusing the constitutional means available to decrease voting of anyone except their base.

The changes to the parties are mental and attitude-based. This will be the most rapid and important impact. There is a laundry list of other likely lesser consequences for Trump’s victory in the short term. The complete discrediting of the polling industry for a generation springs to mind, as does scrambling by foreign governments to reach out to a President who is not known for his ability to take perceived slights well.

The long-term impacts will be deeply important but are also more unpredictable. We know how Trump will govern: as an extension of his attention-seeking, vindictive and venal character. But we don’t know the exact form this will take.

While the Trump campaign has released a plan for a second term, it is impossibly vague and will be disrupted constantly by Trump himself. Pledges include “return to normal in 2021” and “Drain the Globalist Swamp by Taking on International Organizations That Hurt American Citizens”. These don’t make for a convincing policy agenda.

It is more likely that Trump will push inconsistently and incompetently for policies close to his heart; insulating himself and his family against future judicial threats and indulging in his only consistent message of anti-globalism.

Firstly, this means that the erosion of the guard-rails of executive power will continue. There will continue to be an overlap of Trump’s business and his presidency. Trump will continue to appoint partisan judges at a ferocious rate. He will continue to use the Department of Justice for political means. He will continue to fill the executive branch with his partisan appointees. There is the very real threat that he will prosecute his political opponents as he repeatedly promised to do. We should take him at his word when he says he “wants to lock ’em all up”.

Secondly, this means that Trump will continue to lash out against perceived globalists both at home, and abroad. There is a mooted immigration crack-down. Trump could leave NATO or step up his trade war with China.

But most of all, there will be general incompetence and stagnation.

While Democrats would continue to hold the House of Representatives and thus have some ability to block legislation, Trump has “promised more of the same” in 2020. Let’s remember that his past record is not marked by clear decisive action. What is perhaps most worrying about a Trump second term is not what he will do, but more what he won’t; there will be little to no action on the most important crises facing the US and the world. Climate, Coronavirus and global poverty require the US to lead a concerted action – and Trump is not fit to provide this leadership.

It must again be stressed that this is simply a prediction. We don’t know what Trump will do even if we can hazard a guess. Yet, it must be stressed that this is not simply an academic exercise. While it is in equal parts entertaining and terrifying to guess what a second Trump presidency would look like, it matters more practically for two reasons; firstly, this should encourage mobilisation. Get on a phone bank. Talk to those in your life who haven’t voted yet. More deeply, we need to understand that life goes on after the election. This is not millennialism and after November we need to appraise honestly what Trump could and can do so we can organise to stop it. This is doomsday planning… But of the constructive kind.

Hopefully, this leaves you with one simple question: If Trump wins, what will you do?

Written by Democratic Writer, Nathaniel Amos

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A Trump win will have long-lasting effects – A Foreign Perspective

This is an excellent article from Nathaniel, the impact of another Trump presidency would be huge, and for those who listen to the polls, this is far from over. Whilst it is interesting to consider where the two parties would go next if he does, I question whether this article is right in its predictions.

Of course, the Democrats could move further left if they fail to win, but what good will that do? If Saunders had won the nomination, would that have led to a better chance? Probably not. By choosing candidates that are “establishment moderates” Democrats have the chance to draw in those opposed to the far-leaning Republican Party. If Trump wins Democrats must remember that he will not be running in 2024, and a move further left would not give them the best chance in the next election.

Regarding policy, I share this article’s worries about the unknown direction Trump could take. However, the bigger issues are glaringly obvious. The social impact that this election could have is huge. As the fight for a more equal and just world continues, re-electing Trump sends all the wrong messages. He will not support this fight, will not attempt to eradicate obvious institutional racism in the US and will not stand up for progression.

There is also an unmentioned issue: the Supreme Court. With Amy Barrett’s appointment, the court is already set to be Republican for many years. Trump’s re-election could make it even worse. Justice Breyer is 82, there is every chance he could be replaced by the next administration. If this is the case and Trump does win, there would be a 7-2 Republican-leaning court. A bias such as this would take decades to fix.

I hope this can be avoided but there is every chance Trump could win, and without a doubt, it would leave an impact for years to follow.

Written by Foreign Perspective Writer, Fletcher Kipps

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The GOP is already in shambles, but the future of the party looks bright – A Republican Response

Nathaniel writes an excellent piece and I fully agree with the majority of it. But as  Fletcher states, I do question some of the predictions Nathaniel makes regarding the future of both the Democratic, and Republican, party. Ideally, Trump doesn’t win on November 3rd. This gives the Republicans four years to redeem themselves. To slowly remove themselves from the “Trump Cult”, and reassess the direction the party wants to take in 2024. There are several excellent candidates I’m hoping will run in 2024 that would give the GOP a new life that it so desperately needs.

The Democrats certainly need not move further left. As we already saw in 2016, and now once again in 2020, the moderate neoliberals of the Democratic party will always remain the more suitable candidate, versus the more progressive social democrats such as Warren or Sanders. Their policies simply aren’t popular amongst the older generations who are the ones to consistently show up and vote every four years. Biden was the smart pick for this election, as he can still use his Obama-era popularity while also contributing new ideas. He’s also a very safe pick with the more progressive wing of the Democratic party voting him just to avoid having Trump, and moderate Democrats liking his policies quite a bit.

Both of my colleagues are right in raising concerns about the next four years if Trump does win. But beyond what he might say or do regarding policy, what frightens me the most is the on the ground situation in the US. Social unrest will occur should Trump win again. While I do not believe that a civil war will take place, I do think widespread unrest will follow. This will only further an already existing divide.

Fletcher is right in highlighting the importance of the Supreme Court. With the 6-3 conservative majority, if the decision is up to them to determine the next President, it’s quite obvious they will rule in Trump’s favour. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get to that point.

Written by Republican Writer, Sebastian Calcopietro

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Fletcher Kipps
Chief Conservative political writer at | Website

I am an incoming third year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative editor here at POI. I have been fascinated by politics for many years, from PMQs to late night election results all which has led to the desire to study this at university.

Sebastian Calcopietro
Junior Conservative Writer at | Website
Hello, my name is Sebastian or “Seb” and I am currently going into my third year of
studies at the University of Exeter, completing a bachelor’s degree in International
Relations.

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