I am nothing but anxious about Monday’s debate. I think the most likely outcome is not much movement in the polls, but it seems as though the high-variance possibilities — a Trump rise or a Trump plummet — are entirely within his control. What he has done to American politics may come entirely to bear during the debate: if there’s no common agreement that the debate should be based in fact, what are you really debating? At the same time, I’m not sure how you even fact-check Trump. That’s why people need to stop thinking about the campaign, and really asking themselves: what does the world look like if this guy actually wins?
President Trump’s first term
It seems likely that Donald Trump’s policies would lead to economic unrest: revised trade agreement, emphasis on manufacturing, disruption of immigration and domestic prosecution all seem unlikely to spur growth. But given the lackluster performance of the last eight years, I can understand how people might think anything different is worth trying. What’s most terrifying is the impact of American leadership retreating from the world, and how that vacuum is filled in an increasingly dangerous environment. Trump is a novice, and would easily be exploited by the Chinese and Russians. NATO would splinter, and our declined influence in east Asia and Europe could lead to terrifying results ranging from proliferation to outright war. I understand how many people enjoy the rhetoric: fuck everyone else, America first, let’s kick some ass. But think about how that plays out in practice, and ask yourself: what does the world look like in four years?
Failure of the blue model
In theory, everything about the blue model of governance sounds great. An honest day’s work for everyone, rewarded with a comfortable salary and a pension that ensures a happy retirement, all while the government provides for every essential need and service. Its failure is in practice, and the current pension issues in Oregon provide a terrifying, but clear example. The state’s pension funds are not only woefully underfunded, but the political leadership shows no will to actually resolve these problems: just kick them down the line for when someone else will be in office.
Bob Gates speaks — I listen
Today’s leaders are either opportunistic people who move into politics, or young people with brilliance but little wisdom. Bob Gates, alongside other elder statesmen like GHW Bush, represents a lost class of people devoted to public service: capable of thinking about national interest beyond partisan desires. His editorial this week summarizes the many, difficult challenges in foreign policy our next president will face. While he bemoans the lack of seriousness that both the electorate and Hillary Clinton have shown towards them, his scathing comments about Donald Trump are right on the money. The world is too dangerous for Donald Trump to lead it — and that sentiment ought to supersede all others in this election.
The unique challenge of the Trump coalition
The Trump bloc of voters “is a very, very awkward size. It seems to be somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the electorate, which is big enough that it feels like a majority but small enough that it isn't actually a majority.” The comes courtesy of GWU professor Samuel Goldman, who’s been looking at how the GOP fell to Trump, why movement conservatism might be doomed, and the unfortunate reality of why negotiation and governance might not be in the future no matter what.
Supporting Iran means supporting terrorism
Reality is such that the US will not find a perfect ally in the Middle East any time in the near future. In one respect, this is liberating: it frees the US to think purely about its strategic interests and find partners that best align with them. Which is why the pivot away from Saudi Arabia and toward Iran remains so puzzling. While guilty of every imaginable human rights abuse (alongside Israel, Egypt, and every other country in the region), they have been a consistent partner in America’s interests in economy and security. Iran, on the other hand, continues to undermine the US after the nuclear deal. So why is it that we feel it’s right to continue prioritizing relations with Iran at the expense of the Saudis?