Six months from today, at noon on January 20, 2021, the current terms of office for Donald John Trump and Mike Pence will come to an end.
We can be certain that the next six months are going to be one heck of a wild ride. Trump and his enablers are not done destroying America, not by a long shot. Things can, and very likely will, get much worse. Yet, it will also be an extraordinary time when ordinary people will have the opportunity to become heroes… when many will have a chance to provide leadership and act with valor in the face of great adversity.
While we can’t predict the specifics of future events with certainty, The Domino Principles allow us to assess, in broad strokes, many of the likelihoods and probabilities for what may occur over the next six months. And the prognosis is grim indeed.
Here are some of the major things likely coming our way that fill me with dread:
The Plague Nation
America will continue as a plague nation, failing to competently deal with the novel coronavirus in the way that so many other nations have successfully done. I wish there was a kinder, gentler way to say it, but there isn’t — it is going to be horrific. Another coronavirus death surge is now commencing. People you know and love will likely go through it, and some of them may die from it. You might, yourself. I might, myself.
Trump isn’t trying to constructively deal with it anymore, not even in a superficial manner. Those with scientific expertise are being silenced, and data is being withheld from the CDC that allows us to track infections and deaths with immediacy and accuracy. Trump seems determined to make it worse now, pressuring states that don’t have it under control to take actions that will spread the virus still much further.
We are witnessing a cult-leader take glory in watching how his cult members are willing to perish senselessly on his behalf. Meanwhile, his cult members are often quite vocal in defending their “freedom” to infect and kill others.
We are still in the first wave of the pandemic in most states outside of the New York area. Remember that people who study these viruses think that the summer is, relatively, the quiet time. The second wave will start in the fall, and it will likely be even worse. Winter is coming.
Expect a likelihood that Trump will announce a miracle immunizing vaccine for COVID-19 before the election, and that it will be more disinformation than not. We know that developing such a vaccine, testing it adequately for safety and effectiveness, and manufacturing it and distributing it broadly, isn’t possible within that time frame. A vaccine that only protects a small portion of the people it is given to isn’t a solution that instantly ends the pandemic. Expect Trump to try to con you into thinking that it is. Listen to credible scientists, and the data, instead.
Immediate Game Changers Related to the Health of Public Leaders
Should Trump, Biden, or members of the US Supreme Court unexpectedly lose their life due to the coronavirus, or any other cause, it could have a radical and profound immediate effect on the future of America.
Will Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, remain healthy enough for six more months to be able to remain active on the Supreme Court? If not, the repercussions for America could be both bleak and long lasting, and could have an immediate effect on Trump’s efforts to invalidate an election loss.
Election Fixing, Tampering, and Voter Suppression
Expect Trump to continue to do everything he can to cheat in the election, including soliciting foreign (Russia, China, etc.) and domestic interference.
Expect efforts in many states to make voting as difficult and unsafe as possible. Expect many election systems in the same states to fail on election day. Expect ballots in some areas to disappear. Don’t expect to see election results from some states on election night.
Trump and his enablers know that they have committed crimes and acts of treason. If they cannot win legitimately, they will do everything they can to win through cheating. They know if they fail, they will be going to jail, not because of their political beliefs, but because they have committed real crimes in the betrayal of America.
If Trump loses, expect him to use every legal and illegal tactic he can to contest the results while feigning outrage over the very corruption he instigated, and that he might even instruct Mike Pence to refuse to certify the electoral college results in the Senate.
Disasters, Natural and Unnatural
Disasters, natural and unnatural, will happen during this time of COVID-19, and chaos will ensue as America is totally unprepared with how to deal with them under these circumstances. Mass shootings, acts of terror, a major earthquake, killer hurricanes and floods, a second (different) pandemic are all quite feasible. The probability of some of them happening individually may be fairly small, but the chance that at least one or two of them will happen in the next six months is not at all trivial.
We are in the early stages — this recession will be unbelievably devastating. Expect large numbers of people to lose their homes, large numbers of business owners to lose their businesses, and large numbers of people to remain unemployed. State and local governmental entities may become insolvent. The dining and entertainment sectors of our economy will be profoundly gutted for a very long period of time. Expect minorities and the poorest among us to be the most gravely impacted.
Pressuring schools and businesses to open in communities that don’t have the pandemic under control only exacerbates the economic injury even further. My friend Linda Lucas succinctly nailed it when she wrote, “I am no economist but even I know that an economy does not ‘roar back’ when thousands of people are dying. Criminal stupidity.”
Expect that we will learn that much of the money spent by the federal government related to dealing with the pandemic and providing pandemic-related public aid will be found to have been either corruptly or incompetently allocated. Expect there to eventually be severe economic consequences and repercussions (e.g., inflation and increased federal deficits) stemming from massive pandemic-related government spending.
COVID-19 gave America a chance to take a break from a hectic life pace and reflect upon the world we live in. Pent-up anger and energy from months of isolation and quarantine, coupled with stress from high levels of unemployment and highly visible acts of police injustice against minorities, provided the impetus for so many to finally take to the streets in predominantly peaceful protest. Expect this to continue.
Expect Trump to try to further divide the nation, anger the protesters to become violent, use federal agents to incite violence, and encourage counter-protesters to become violent. The time after the presidential election, in particular, may become extremely volatile.
Expect some to try to continue to change the conversation by focusing first on the very few criminals and haters who have tried to take advantage of the situation by creating mayhem, rather than on the predominantly peaceful protesters and the issues of injustice they are protesting against.
America Held Hostage
Even if the presidential election provides a clear and devastating loss for Trump, America won’t be out of the woods by a long shot. The time between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021 will be extraordinarily dangerous. Trump will be unfettered by prospects of damaging his political future, and unrestrained in using the Presidency for self-enrichment and other highly illegitimate purposes. He may well threaten insanely dangerous and treasonous actions as leverage against being held accountable for the actions he has already taken. [Note added July 31, 2020: In this column in The Atlantic, David Frum elaborates on election tampering and on this topic in much greater detail, and it is terrifying. See: Where The System May Break.]
The Department of Injustice
Once an agency that took pride in striving to administer justice and the impartial “rule of law,” the US Justice Department has now become an agent for the corrupt enforcement of order against all who might oppose Trump, and for the furthering of Trump’s personal interests.
We will continue to see an escalation of federal agents without visible affiliation snatching citizens off the streets without cause, and without the invitation or consent of state or local officials. We will continue to see federal agents committing acts of violence against peaceful protesters. We may see the arrests of “dissidents” who have clearly broken no laws.
One would hope that the House of Representatives would commence well-warranted impeachment proceeding against Attorney General William Barr, but I am not sanguine about the chances of it happening.
The pardon and clemency powers of the President were put into place to provide mercy and right injustices. Under Trump, however, they have been used again and again to corruptly reward criminals who have acted in support of Trump or who Trump believes will provide him subsequent quid pro quo support.
Expect Trump to try to pardon everyone close to himself before he leaves office. Trump may possibly try to pardon himself, or resign hours early so that Mike Pence can briefly assume the presidency and pardon him. Fortunately, a federal pardon will not protect Trump and his family from prosecution for state crimes.
The presently known treasonous and criminal wrongdoings that Trump and those close to him have engaged in are extensive. But there is a strong likelihood that they will be greatly eclipsed by the treasonous and criminal wrongdoings that Trump and those close to him have committed and that we are as yet unaware. As these matters are disclosed and come to public awareness over time, America will have a national reckoning in dealing with the repercussions of being unable to prosecute so many people who betrayed America so horrifically.
There Is No Escape
My personal plan, if Trump were to win re-election, was to put my belongings in storage and spend the next couple of years exploring the world while looking for a new permanent residence outside of the United States. I recognize that I’m more fortunate than many to be able to write commentary and run my business interests from anywhere in the world with Internet services. But with the United States becoming a plague nation, my US passport is essentially worthless, and there are now virtually no countries that will admit Americans. So leaving America to go live somewhere else isn’t really on the table until the virus situation ends, which may not happen for quite some while. Those of us who only have US citizenship are pretty much trapped in the United States.
Fifty-One Years Ago Today Mankind First Set Foot on the Moon
Today also marks the fifty-first anniversary of the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first members of mankind to land on the surface of the moon. We must again ask how the United States of America, the nation possessing such incredible ingenuity and resources to put the first humans on the moon and bring them home safely in 1969, could possibly be facing so many signs of societal collapse. This decline isn’t just something that has happened in the last four months or even in the last four years. My column from one year ago today, “The Day We Reached for the Stars and Acted With Decency,” addresses this topic further.
This Is The Reckoning
We’re in the endgame now. We stand between the light and the dark, amidst heroes and villains. Six months from today, we will likely know how it is going to play out. America could bounce back, awoken and more resolved than ever, to address its challenges. Or, America could plunge into a period of collapse and abject darkness that may very well outlast the lifetimes of many, if not all, of us.
Throwing down the gauntlet to address the stark challenges that we face requires far more than just snapping our fingers. We must each use our gifts to the fullest… our voices, our actions, our resources, and our votes. You and I each play a critical role in how this will turn out. Now is the time for leadership, not silence or inaction.
The Domino Principles can help guide us, providing a framework for taking command of our future by looking at how chain reactions produce future outcomes. But in the end, destiny, while marching ever in our direction, can only be re-routed by the choices we make, by the love we hold onto, and the promises we keep.
To Learn More:
The Atlantic: A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming
Medium.com: American Passports Are Worthless Now
The Atlantic: America Should Prepare for a Double Pandemic
The Atlantic: How Trump Closed Down the Schools
The Washington Post: If you aren’t filled with rage at Trump, you aren’t paying attention
The Atlantic: The Terrifying Next Phase of the Coronavirus Recession
The Atlantic: A Lot of Americans Are About to Lose Their Homes
The Domino Principle: Stayin’ Alive: A Guide To Surviving The 2nd Wave
The Domino Principle: The Most Important Year Of Them All
The Domino Principle: The Day We Reached for the Stars and Acted With Decency
The final sentence of the above essay is adapted from the narration of the character Mohinder Suresh in the television show HEROES. The full original quote is as follows:
“There is good, and there is evil, right and wrong, heroes and villains. And if we’re blessed with wisdom, then there are glimpses between the cracks of each, where light streams through. We wait in silence for these times, when sense can be made; when meaningless existence comes into focus and our purpose presents itself. And if we have the strength to be honest, then what we find there, staring back at us, is our own reflection, bearing witness to the duality of life: that each one of us is capable of both the dark and the light, of good and evil, of either, of all. And destiny, while marching ever in our direction, can be re-routed by the choices we make, by the love we hold onto, and the promises we keep.”
🎶I can fight
Everyday for what I think is right
Where there’s darkness I’ll bring light🎶