Defenders of Donald Trump’s foreign policy confuse his lack of sentimentality for realism. In fact, his disinterest in America’s decades-old alliances in Europe and the Far East defies a century of geopolitical wisdom.
Strategists from Halford Mackinder to Zbigniew Brzezinski understood that only a united Eurasia, which has two-thirds of the world’s population and resources, can pose a threat to the Americas, while Robert Kagan and Henry Kissinger recently warned, in The Jungle Grows Back (2018) and World Order (2014), respectively, that the long peace since World War II has owed as much to American “hard” power as to the world’s belief that Americans will, by and large, do the right thing.
President Donald Trump’s (not so) shocking coronavirus diagnosis had all the markings of the fabled “October surprise” American election-watchers look for every four years.
In the world of geopolitical forecasting, you would call an October surprise a “Red Dragon”: something rare, highly impactful, yet to an extent foreseeable. This contrasts with a “Black Swan”, which comes out of nowhere.
Trump getting COVID was certainly a Red Dragon: wandering around campaign events without wearing a mask and taking only the barest precautions, it was more surprising that it took him so many months to contract the disease.
From the standpoint of who will win the election, the diagnosis seems to only have reinforced Joe Biden’s lead, not undercut it. Polls suggest Americans have little sympathy for the president, and his maskless bravado on Monday on the White House balcony surely won’t convince them that this is a man who takes the pandemic, and his own health, seriously.
Could another October surprise flip the script for Trump?
America could be heading into its worst political crisis since the Civil War.
If, as the polls predict, Joe Biden wins more votes in November but Donald Trump refuses to leave, there is no template for how to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.
Asked on Wednesday if he would commit to one, the president said, “We’re going to have to see what happens.”
You know that I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. … Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly. There’ll be a continuation.
He also explained why he’s in a rush to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court:
I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.
Ginsburg, a liberal justice appointed by Bill Clinton, died a week ago. The Court now has five conservative and three liberal members.
In 2016, Trump told supporters he would only accept the outcome if he won.
When he did win, Trump claimed — without evidence — that three million people had voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, the very margin by which she won the popular vote. Trump prevailed in the Electoral College.
If Trump loses this year and refuses to concede, that alone could throw the period between the election on November 3 and the inauguration on January 20 into chaos.
Trump is narrowly ahead in the swing states Iowa and Ohio as well as once solidly Republican Georgia and Texas. As recently as 2012, Democrats didn’t even campaign or spend money in those two states.
National polls give Biden an average of 50 percent support against 42-43 percent for Trump.
Although the presidential election will be decided state-by-state, national polls tend to be of higher quality and are still useful. Polling guru Nate Silver points out that Biden would need to win the national popular vote by 3 points or more to have a higher than 50-percent chance of prevailing in the Electoral College. Read more “Biden Outpolls Trump in Swing States”
I don’t think I will ever get used to hearing once-sensible Republicans singing Donald Trump’s praises.
Four years ago, the likes of Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, Tim Scott and Scott Walker knew that Trump was a bully without ideas; a would-be strongman with an unhealthy admiration for Vladimir Putin; a failed tycoon who didn’t grasp the basic principles of economics; and a thrice-married philanderer who had clearly never read a Bible.
Four years later, with the economy in free fall, America’s reputation in tatters, multiple former Trump campaign officials in prison and 180,000 Americans dead as a result of coronavirus, they’re telling the Republican National Convention that Trump is the only thing standing between them and the abyss.
Democrats and political experts in the United States are worried that President Donald Trump might not recognize the outcome of the upcoming election.
When over 100 former politicians and government officials, civil society leaders and journalists gamed out four election scenarios, they ended up in a constitutional crisis, “featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition,” in all but one: a decisive win for Joe Biden. A close result could trigger civil and political unrest not seen in a century.