I don’t title this post “Prepare for a Trump victory” because even though I prefer using the active voice, I realized with mild interest that a statement beginning “Prepare for” implies inevitability, where “Be prepared for” dials it down to conceivable possibility. At the time of my writing this, that latter describes the situation my country — and therefore the world — faces regarding the likelihood of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election.
I want to do everything I can to survive this if it happens, and I want everyone I care about to survive it too. As such, I advise you to not only not assume a Clinton victory, but to make active preparations for experiencing the shock of Trump’s election, and then adjusting to the new reality of life afterwards.
I rather expect the interval between Trump’s election and inauguration to feel like sitting trapped on a malfunctioning jetliner as it slopes its way downward into terrain — except worse in a way, the horror lasting not for minutes but for weeks. I feel certain my own sympathetic nervous system would scream for escape the whole time, heedless of the lack of anything to escape from, nowhere else to go.
So: I have started settling myself on the assumption that a Trump election will happen. If incorrect, I will bask, briefly, in the sweetest relief. Otherwise, steeling myself ahead of time will — I hope — let me avoid profoundly damaging myself by stretching over entire months the bodily systemic shock of a flight-or-fight reaction meant to last only moments.
History, I expect, would look on Trump’s inauguration as an impact event. Chaos would follow at national and global scales, starting with the election and rising to a crescendo in January. I fully expect markets worldwide to spontaneously crater at least as much as they did in 2008, and remain there. Racist violence may erupt across America and elsewhere as white nationalists, feeling both empowered and protected, hear the call to swell in numbers and take to the streets, seeking catharsis.
I would anticipate Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, to engage in an orgy of arson, using the opportunity of a diminished Supreme Court and a nihilist executive to reverse all the accomplishments of Trump’s hated predecessor. Obamacare, the Paris climate agreement, anything else they can get their hands on: gone. That they’d have nothing to replace them with wouldn’t matter. They wouldn’t care about improving the country, not even pleasing their constituents or PACs. They would focus solely on blotting out Obama’s legacy with the same fervor that victors in the ancient world would gouge out the depicted faces of fallen rulers from royal bas-reliefs.
All this horror, all the suffering, confusion, and death it may cause, would prove a short-term seismic shift leading to a new, permanent reality for all Americans that I won’t try predicting or describing. From that point, a lot would depend on what kind of president Trump chooses to be. Perhaps he will try to actively govern, attempting to spitball his way through global leadership the way he did while campaigning. I find it more likely he’d grow irritated and bored and throw the wheel to Vice-President Pence within months, whether through a formal resignation or willingly turning himself into a figurehead.
Either way, life will continue, and so must we. I know it sounds really hard from this side of the curtain. I feel very scared and nervous about it. Already in this experiment, I feel the tug to give in to hopelessness, to just stop and sink into inertia. But we have to stay together in creativity and resistance, if we don’t all want to tumble down into darkness, and I believe that preparedness for disaster — together — has to play a role in that. And that needs to start today.