Feature series, Law & Politics

It’s a lose, lose, lose situation for Trump’s ‘Divided States of America’

This article is part of our ‘Mulling over America’ feature series, with contributors providing Rationalist perspectives on what is happening in the United States. If you would like to contribute to the feature series with an article or respond with a Letter to the Editor, find out how to here.

The French have a saying: “If you don’t do politics, politics will do you.” And goodness me, Americans are being done dirty.

To say US democracy hangs in the balance is not hyperbole; it’s a talking point for the Biden campaign. “Democracy is on the ballot. Freedom is on the ballot,” Biden said at a recent rally. These things Americans have come to take for granted are on the ballot because it’s all but certain Trump will be on the ballot too.

The multiple legal challenges aimed at preventing Trump from returning to the presidency have served only to make it more likely that he will. With every new lawsuit Trump has improved in the polls as the confirmation bias of his rabid supporters reaches new heights. “It’s a witch-hunt” Trump says, and he’s right — a “witch-hunt” is a campaign directed against a person or group holding views considered unorthodox or a threat to society.

Make no mistake, a second Trump presidency is a threat not just to American society but to the world as we know it.

Recent attempts to disqualify Trump from being on the ballot based on section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which bars insurrectionists from holding public office, are also likely doomed to fail. The US Supreme Court has been hearing oral arguments in Trump v Anderson this month. Even if the Supreme Court wasn’t stacked with conservative judges – three of whom were appointed by Trump himself – the outcome would likely be the same. Trump will remain on the ballot and the Supreme Court will perform whatever technical legal acrobatics are needed to make it so.

The reason for this is simple: the interpretation of law is not removed from political considerations. Any ruling that denies not just the presumptive Republican nominee but the very man who falsely claims the last election was stolen from him the opportunity to contest the next election would result in an incredulous Trump inciting violence and an army of rabid supporters eager to inflict it — starting with the judges.

The Supreme Court fait accompli is the first loss in this lose, lose, lose situation.

The second is that if Trump loses the election he will almost certainly lie about it having been stolen again, just like he lied it was stolen last time. Only this time tensions will be higher and the likelihood of armed resistance from paramilitary Trump supporters that have had four years to prepare cannot be underestimated.

Make no mistake, a second Trump presidency is a threat not just to American society but to the world as we know it.

Five people died in the Capitol Riot on 6 January 2021. Expect that number to be higher next time around if Trump repeats the lie of a stolen election. That blood will forever be on his small, orange hands.

All this assumes Trump is going to be the Republican candidate. But, as far as assumptions go, it’s a safe one. The Republican Party has failed in its gatekeeping role. Trump’s sudden death would now appear more likely than his last competitor standing in the primaries, Nikki Haley, finding a path to victory. All Haley can do is hang on as long as possible to force Trump to spend campaign funds fighting her so he has less to fight Biden with come election time.

And then there is what happens if Trump wins the election. Polling currently suggests the chance of this happening in a face off against Biden is like flipping a coin. These are not great odds when you’re talking about the future of US democracy and maintaining any sense of global stability in an already strained geopolitical environment. 

If Trump wins, everyone else loses. Trump and his cronies have made no secret of their intentions to trample democracy and seek revenge on their detractors from day one. A Trump win raises the possibility of a military coup, should his orders prove a bridge too far for the good men and women of the armed forces. This is truly the nightmare scenario, for the US military is no different to the rest of the population, and Trump loyalists would break away to join paramilitary troops. Total chaos would ensue.

Biden recently called Trump a “sick loser.” I fear that should Trump succeed on 5 November the world will quickly discover just how sick a winner he can be too.

Published 12 February 2024.

This article was originally published on the author’s personal blog here

Photo by Gage Skidmore on Unsplash.


About Jonathan Meddings

Jonathan Meddings is former Vice President and board member of the Rationalist Society of Australia. He is now Chair of The Darbon Institute, a charity working to protect and promote everyone’s right to bodily integrity and autonomy in Australia and New Zealand.

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