Donald Trump could be back in White House before end of year
A Republican victory in the 2022 midterm elections could see Trump returned to power much sooner than most might anticipate.
January 6 of this year brought us the first anniversary of the Capitol Hill riot in which supporters of former US President Donald Trump stormed the legislative heart of the American capital in a futile attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite a yawning vacuum of actual evidence, most Republican voters, close to half of the electorate, have been led to believe that the sitting president stole the election. To see a tactic of far-right politicians in the Global South, that of crying electoral fraud despite their obvious defeat, employed in what is still the sole global hegemonic power is truly something to behold.
On the other side, the Democrats and establishment media allied to them sought to milk the unedifying spectacle for all it was worth. Rather than being the last shambolic act of a bumbling administration, January 6 has been elevated to an almost 9/11-like significance, constituting an actual attempted coup d’état against the American political system. That would beg the question that if Trump had successfully had himself certified the winner, did the 2000 “election” of George W Bush also constitute a coup?
The true significance of January 6 was that it mainstreamed the threat of political violence, something that is practically guaranteed to repeat itself in future elections.
Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon ominously projected that within a decade, the US might be ruled by a right-wing dictatorship. Of far greater import, the warning from three retired US generals that the next presidential election in 2024 could precipitate a coup attempt that might actually succeed has brought the end of the American republic and renewed civil war from the realm of conspiracy theorizing to the center of public discourse.
Members of the “freedom caucus” or the wing of the Republicans most fanatically aligned to the former president have been dropping hints of a plan to return Trump to the Oval Office far sooner than 2024.
As is the norm with incumbent parties, the Democrats are widely tipped to lose control of the House of Representatives at the midterm elections in late 2022. The Republicans for their part, are doing everything they can to ensure that outcome, including by redrawing the boundaries of electoral districts such that only Republicans can win them and by tightening electoral “integrity” laws that will see African and Hispanic Americans and other more Democrat-leaning minorities excluded from the voting process.
According to Matt Gaetz, a newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives would immediately nominate none other than former president Trump to the Speakership of the House. This would mark an effective end to the Biden presidency as every aspect of his agenda (that he doesn’t share with the Republicans) will be instantly vetoed. While Trump may not have his eye on the Speakership itself, it would put him within striking distance of the presidency. After the vice-president, the order of succession puts the speaker of the house in line to assume the presidency.
With this in mind, the new speaker Trump will move to initiate impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden, likely on the grounds that he “stole” the 2020 election, which are as credible as the claim that Russia put Trump in the White House in 2016. Were such an outrageous gambit to succeed, president Kamala Harris would be the last remaining obstacle between Trump and the office he covets.
Like so much about the United States’ deeply flawed system, carrying out just a blatantly undemocratic plan could still be done with technical legality. For instance, one need not be an actual member of Congress in order to be nominated Speaker.
The blatantly politicized impeachment of not one but two sitting presidents in order that the speaker pursuing impeachment regains the presidency on false charges would be an almost unimaginable political crisis unmatched in the United States’ history. Even if it were done technically legally, all pretense of American democracy would ring hollow as the entire world would see the charade for what it is.
It would also likely precipitate the very crisis warned of in 2024. The possibility of the armed forces remaining unified in such circumstances is incredibly hard to envision, as much of the command structure would see through the purported motivations of the Republicans. A split of the armed forces would be far more likely than not.
At best, a mass popular revolt against the government would follow. At worst, the outbreak of the Second American Civil War may be unavoidable. Should the latter occur, there is almost no way of knowing what the world will look like but we would well and truly be at the threshold of a post-American world.