Otto Von Bismarck is supposed to have said that there is a special providence for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America. The people of the United States of America have repudiated that providence, in order to become a normal country. That protection has now been withdrawn.
It is a normal outcome for a presidential election in the Americas, with a constitutional system modeled after that of the United States, to empower an authoritarian strongman. We are, after enjoying more than two hundred years of our special providence, finally experiencing a normal outcome. This is bad news, but it is most likely not catastrophic news.
In my pre-election post, I outlined two main bad things about Trump:
- He is a threat to global political stability, might lead to a military conflict between great powers, and slightly increases the chances of a nuclear exchange.
- He is a threat to local political stability and might lead to the breakdown of civil order.
These things were real risks, and still are. They are very, very bad in expectation. But they are still fairly improbable. This is very bad news, but to run through the streets panicking would be committing a category error. To the extent that a Trump victory carries tail risk, we have already incurred that cost. We have already lost that measure. The only thing to do is manage the mainline scenarios.
(UPDATE: I basically endorse Paul Christiano's take on managing the tail risk.)
To respond reasonably to a Trump victory, we have to think clearly about the threats posed by a Trump regime, and the opportunities we have to change that.
I'm going to start by explaining why, while both those outcomes are real risks, the system is unlikely to suddenly collapse. Then I will explore what Trump's support means, and what we should do about it.