What the World Could Look Like If Trump Wins This Election

In my forthcoming book, Aftermath: Healing from the Trump Presidency, which I am making available for free at freepsychotherapybooks.org for those interested in changing the course of our country’s future, I explore how the last four years have felt like living in an autocratic state rather than in a functioning democracy. I also outline what we can do to heal as a country when we return to a state of civility. While I am optimistic that great strides can be made with inclusive leaders who want to rebuild a crumbling America, if Donald Trump wins the 2020 presidential election, we are all in a fair amount of trouble.

Trump’s flawed character traits and his propensity to shift blame to others — technically called projective identification — hinders the smooth functioning of government, and most egregiously, in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Any situation where collaboration and strategic planning are needed, Trump’s personality gets in the way. Because of his total lack of empathy, compassion, and understanding of cultural differences, the moral fabric of our country is tearing. Lying is no longer a problem and instead appears to be the new normal. Particularly problematic is that our children are getting the wrong message about lying. As I explore in Aftermath, children are learning from our commander-in-chief that promises and commitments no longer have value and that the only thing that matters is placing one’s own wants and needs ahead of everyone else.

Families are divided on whether Trump is a good president, but with such vitriol that political discussions are now declared verboten at family gatherings. While this may make Thanksgiving dinner more pleasant on the surface, an undercurrent of tension could remain in families for generations if we don’t find a way to talk about our differences in an atmosphere of respect. In some cases, if people don’t air their differences, seething rage could result in violence.

If Trump wins a second term, our economy will get worse and take years to significantly improve. We will see unprecedented levels of homelessness. Since Donald Trump has failed to develop a national plan to fight the novel coronavirus, thousands more people will lose their jobs, their homes and many will lose their lives. A number of people who do survive will live in poverty for years, if not decades.

As if this isn’t bad enough, millions of Americans will be left without medical insurance. The fact that President Trumps wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act without offering a viable replacement is unconscionable, especially during a pandemic, yet it appears that is what Trump plans to do. What kind of sense does this make for the leader of what was once the most powerful nation in the world?

To add insult to injury, women’s rights will be eroded. As many women leave the workforce to take care of their children, they are leaving jobs that, for reasons including outsourcing and digitization, may not exist when they are ready to return. Left without skills and no work, many women simply opt out of the workforce forever.

Abortions are likely to become illegal. If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court Justice, Roe V. Wade may no longer exist. Women may not be able to make choices about their bodies. Men may be the ones who decide whether women have children. It sounds somewhat like Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. In fact, Atwood said her inspiration for the book came after visiting totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe. I don’t think it’s too far afield to suggest we may be nearing such a bleak reality.

Mental health problems are on the rise because people are traumatized by Donald Trump and his psychological abuse. Suicide rates are likely to increase as people lose jobs, their homes, and their sense of self. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that internet searches for acute anxiety spiked during the early days of the pandemic and has shown little signs of abating. Data from Mental Health America observed a 634% increase in users accessing its online mental health tools in September. People feel mentally unstable, and they need help. Are we providing it? Certainly not on any widespread level.

People are scared, and I believe the evidence points to trauma caused by Trump and his lack of concern about their well-being. Psychologist John Gartner even categorized Trump as “the most successful bio-terrorist in human history.”

On other fronts, wildfires will continue to rage, destroying thousands of additional acres of land. Since Trump believes that this problem is solely due to forest mismanagement, the problem is not likely to improve. Sea levels are rising and ice is melting fast. Our planet is scarily close to the “point of no return” when many scientists believe the transformations occurring now will render many places on our planet uninhabitable. In Aftermath, I call out Trump for his wanton disregard for smart climate change policy and his blatant disregard for science.

Covid-19 will kill thousands more of our citizens if there continues to be a lack of national planning and if Trump continues to endorse the dangerous idea that herd immunity will work. Unfortunately, herd immunity sounds good in theory, but for it to work requires many thousands of people to die. Is that what we want?

We also may lose our status as a superpower and have to settle for a divided country in which acrimony and disregard for the well-being of others may be the new normal. In a ‘worst case scenario’ our Democratic way of life may be slipping away.

Yet, in spite of the failures of the Trump administration, it’s not too late for us to take control of our lives. We can all do something, even something as simple as cultivating empathy, to help counteract the fallout from this time of crisis. If apathy or blind acceptance takes hold as the new normal in our country, we will confront even bigger problems than any of us realize.

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Karyne Messina

Karyne Messina

I'm a psychologist and psychoanalyst focusing on helping people heal from toxic relationships