What is the worst case scenario for Trump’s presidency? These last few years have been so unpredictable that this question becomes incredibly broad to the point it seems it has no answer, but it is worth dwelling on, if nothing else to get a better sense of perspective. One of the sayings I live my life by is to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and whatever actually happens will be somewhere in between. So let’s start to define what the worst will be.
The most obvious and direct is nuclear war. There are any number of ways that could happen. While I don’t think China has a significant number of nuclear weapons, Russia does, and they are in a position to hit almost any point in the world with them. The good news is that our incoming president appears to be comfortably in Russia’s pocket. Even if all the reports about Russia having compromising information on Trump, and collusion between Trump employees and Russian officials, and stories about how Russia intended to sway the election in Trump’s favor are all entirely wrong, just the fact they exist and are believed means that any of Trump’s actions are going to be viewed through this lens. He can’t attack Russia, as it will appear that he is trying to get out from underneath their thumb. Russia won’t bother attacking the US, as it appears they already have total control. I don’t think that nuclear war is a plausible outcome. Sure, there will be some posturing, but ultimately no one really wants war to that degree. It feels unlikely.
The next most obvious threat is catastrophic climate change. Trump is well-established in saying that he doesn’t believe it. And he has given his most full-throated support to coal, the single worst energy source we have found in terms of carbon release. But climate change is already happening. Even the most optimistic cases still have the globe warming at least another degree or two, and the most pessimistic cases indicate an increase of four degrees. We are already doomed in that regard. I don’t think Trump can do much worse than speed up the transition a bit. What is the worst case scenario that he can directly cause?
So far it appears that our health may be the thing he can have the biggest and most dangerous impact on. He’s appointing an anti-vaccine nut job to study vaccines. His party is off to the races to destroy women’s healthcare, and cheaper health insurance. Roe v Wade will almost certainly die before the end of his first term. We are very likely to see worse punishments for drug users and less medical interventions. That doesn’t feel like the end of it, though. Some type of registry or possibly even arrest for Muslims. Fewer gay rights. More religious education. But that doesn’t feel entirely plausible either.
During the campaign Trump made waves saying he was going to investigate Clinton as soon as he won. Then, once he did, he immediately did a 180. He had no interest in investigating her at all. While I do believe he will do many of the things I just outlined, I don’t believe it’s going to be his focus. By some standards Trump is less crazy than some of the people who share his party. Specifically, his Vice President is crazier. I believe the worst case scenario, at this point, is for Trump to quit or be removed from office, and be replaced by Pence. Pence is an ideologue. A conservative’s conservative. Imagine the worst possible thing a conservative will do, and Pence has probably proposed something worst. A cleverer person than me pointed out Trump’s life insurance only cost him a Pence. An idea I wholeheartedly believe is true.
Ok, we’ve defined one of the parameters of what could happen. Trump replaced by Pence is probably the absolute worst case scenario. Next up is to define the best case scenario.