Underestimating the Potential for Catastrophic Failure

This year, in Poland, a modern, democratic nation, a nationalist political party is transforming the government into an authoritarian regime. It has assaulted the independent judiciary and has ignored the rulings of courts and dismissed its political rivals. Who predicted that Poland, a country that cherishes its hard-earned democratic government and is prepared to have great economic advantages, could fall so far so fast.

History is filled with the ruins of once-great civilizations and empires that suddenly and swiftly came to an end. People tend to underrate the occurrence of large-scale disasters. People think it won’t happen here or now, they look to the past and see the obstacles that were overcome and think that it is ┬áimpossible. There could always be a catastrophic natural disaster, or a political one.

Deep political divisions are difficult for democracies, wherein compromise is necessary. The more division, the more gridlock, the more likely it is that people will turn to someone who will overthrow the current order. This is where Donald Trump makes his entrance into the national political stage. It is unlikely that a President Trump would overthrow the Republic, but it is not inconceivable that he could undermine the rule of law and the primacy of the Constitution in governance. Presumptive Republican nominee Trump has already undermined political norms of discourse and brought conspiracy theory, political violence, and racism to the fore of our national politics.

There is nothing certain about the future, and it is na├»ve to think that our government couldn’t have a tremendous crisis brought about by the actions of a President Trump.