An alarmist future?

If Trump gets elected, I think humanity as a species has failed. Not to sound dramatic, but the choice should be obvious. It’s like you’re offered two bottles: one labeled water and the other labeled Ebola. Which one do you choose?

This probably sounds stupid. But ever since I first saw Star Trek, I knew I had found a goal. My goal was to do everything I could as an individual, to make that kind of future a reality. I know that I will never live in such a future, but I wanted to do my part to get us as a species, ever so much closer to that reality. I looked forward to a world where the only label we assign to each other is “Human”.

Trump is the antithesis of all of that. He stands at the polar opposite of such a future. If Trump gets elected I have very little hope for the future. Ronald Reagan saw America as a “shining city upon a hill” (a phrase from John Winthrop, an early Pilgrim) – it was a place where “if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here”. Ronald Reagan’s America is inclusive; not exclusive. He described it as a proud city, built on rocks stronger than the ocean; a country built on principles that have sustained it for over two centuries.

I have felt that America, even with its numerous flaws, has largely been a force for good in this world. When America decided to take on the mantle of being the world’s superpower, it also inherited the responsibility to do so wisely. As a nation America has made many missteps in this regard, but has also had many successes. Whether nations may admit it or not, many do look to the United States for direction. Trump’s vision threatens all of that. Europe is seeing the resurgence of extreme right-wing nationalism. There are disaffected people everywhere. Feeding into this is rising xenophobia and the desire to blame circumstances on outsiders. This is driven by a migration crisis, which by the way, will be nothing compared to the future ones we will see once the full effects of climate hit us within the next decade or so. Electing Trump will only legitimize and give further traction to these extreme right-wing movements in Europe. This is not a joke; no one saw Brexit coming, and it was largely driven by the same sentiments that are driving right-wing nationalism in mainland Europe.

In the early 1930’s there were a few fascist groups in United States. One of them was the German-American Bund. It was universally rejected by Americans who were repelled by their first exposure to European fascism. How different would the world be today, if a significant fraction of the nation had accepted it? What if there was someone like Trump at this point in time? Imagine a World War II with the United States on the side of the Axis Powers; imagine the outcome.

I am not trying to be alarmist. I honestly feel that we are at a critical point in the history of our civilization. I don’t want to assume the worst, but it’s hard not to. Is our cultural memory really so short that we are going to repeat the same mistakes from more than seven decades ago?

If Trump gets elected, aliens may one day come upon a dead planet and say “See, here’s actual proof that having intelligence doesn’t make you smart. These guys were intelligent, but they still killed themselves anyway because they were stupid.” I’d rather we find them first to disprove that notion.

A Trump presidency does not seem outside of the realm of possibility. That terrifies me. Even if he is elected, I hope the worst does not come to pass. It’s not just the future of America itself that is at stake; it’s the future of our global civilization.