We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine,” Thomas Homer-Dixon, founding director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, wrote in the Globe and Mail.
“In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.”
Homer-Dixon’s message was blunt: “By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a rightwing dictatorship.”
The author cited eventualities centered on a Trump return to the White House in 2024, possibly including Republican-held state legislatures refusing to accept a Democratic win.
Trump, he warned, “will have only two objectives, vindication and vengeance” of the lie that his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.
A “scholar of violent conflict” for more than four decades, Homer-Dixon said Canada must take heed of the “unfolding crisis”.
“A terrible storm is coming from the south, and Canada is woefully unprepared. Over the past year we’ve turned our attention inward, distracted by the challenges of Covid-19, reconciliation and the accelerating effects of climate change.
“But now we must focus on the urgent problem of what to do about the likely unraveling of democracy in the United States. We need to start by fully recognising the magnitude of the danger. If Mr Trump is re-elected, even under the more optimistic scenarios the economic and political risks to our country will be innumerable.”
Homer-Dixon said he even saw a scenario in which a new Trump administration, having effectively nullified internal opposition, deliberately damaged its northern neighbor.
“Under the less-optimistic scenarios, the risks to our country in their cumulative effect could easily be existential, far greater than any in our federation’s history. What happens, for instance, if high-profile political refugees fleeing persecution arrive in our country and the US regime demands them back. Do we comply?”
Trump, he said, “and a host of acolytes and wannabes such as Fox [News]’s Tucker Carlson and Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene”, had transformed the Republican party “into a near-fascist personality cult that’s a perfect instrument for wrecking democracy”.
Worse, he said, Trump “may be just a warm-up act”.
“Returning to office, he’ll be the wrecking ball that demolishes democracy but the process will produce a political and social shambles,” Homer-Dixon said.
“Still, through targeted harassment and dismissal, he’ll be able to thin the ranks of his movement’s opponents within the state, the bureaucrats, officials and technocrats who oversee the non-partisan functioning of core institutions and abide by the rule of law.
“Then the stage will be set for a more managerially competent ruler, after Mr Trump, to bring order to the chaos he’s created.”