Donald Trump can be overwhelming. His coming administration presents so many potential risks it’s hard to know which to feel anxious about.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling anxious, it helps to make lists. Here, then, in a rough order of dangerousness and/or horribleness, but also grouped by category, are 50 things to be worried about, as the new administration takes shape.
National Security and International Affairs
1. Unprepared, trigger-fingered amateurs in a situation of crisis. Surely the most dangerous aspect of the Trump presidency isn’t what we know – it’s what we don’t know. What happens when the next terrorist attack takes place, or the next belligerent move from Russia, China, or North Korea? With ideologues and amateurs in charge of national security, surely there’s a high risk of war, even nuclear exchange, or at the very least bumbling incompetence that hurts the U.S.
2. Having alienated our former allies in the Muslim world and in the U.S. Muslim community, we’ll have worse intelligence and more radicalized Islamists. The risk of a large-scale terror attack on our soil is an order of magnitude greater now, even more so if Homeland Security is run by inept extremists.
3. With America’s retreat from the world stage, Russia gains power, influence, and money. This, of course, is why Putin’s regime hacked Democrats’ emails and delivered the presidency to Trump. As a side effect, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law retreat globally, and the Baltic republics are no more.
4. With America’s retreat from the world stage, China gains power. In addition to loss of the U.S.’s economic dominance, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law retreat globally.
5. Trump’s erratic behavior alienates our allies, destabilizes the entire world order, and destroys American prestige (as has already begun to happen with his buffoonish phone calls with Taiwan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and the U.K.).
6. NATO and the UN are crippled and the United States’ hard-won economic and political dominance is lost. The world becomes far more dangerous.
7. Trump makes good on his promise to kill terrorists’ families and is brought up on war crimes charges. In response, the US pulls out of the ICC (as Russia recently did), crippling it. Meanwhile, innocent people are targeted and murdered by the United States (as opposed to killed unintentionally by drones, also a tragedy).
8. Climate change accelerates, leading to violence such as the drought/hunger-sparked chaos in Syria, and to further economic destabilization. Global agriculture is severely disrupted, and entire ecosystems wither. Most of the damage takes place ten or twenty years in the future.
9. With ideological extremists running the executive branch, the U.S. engages in fruitless, deadly “cowboy diplomacy,” including numerous military actions in the Middle East and around the world, just like the last time they were in charge (i.e. the Iraq War). Hundreds of thousands of deaths.
10. The United Nations is greatly weakened as the U.S. undermines it and refuses to pay its dues. International rule of law declines to its lowest point since World War I.
11. With no real plan in Syria, Russia’s sphere of influence grows, while thousands of people die as the U.S. “bombs the hell out of ISIS.” The gains Iraq has made against ISIS are lost when the U.S. alienates Iraq and others. ISIS emerges much stronger.
12. Chaos in the Middle East threatens Israel, and so Israel responds with a wave of anti-democratic measures, annexation of parts of the West Bank, reoccupation of Gaza, and the ethnic cleansing of parts of the territory.
13. With the Iran Deal scuttled, Iran resumes development of nuclear weapons. This leads to a massive, deadly military exchange with the United States.
14. The State Department not only stops funding pro-women, pro-education, pro-human rights, and pro-LGBT initiatives around the world, but starts funding the exact opposite, channeling billions of federal dollars to hard-right Christian organizations, including those behind “Kill the Gays” bills around the world.
15. It can’t be ruled out that Russia had further interests in influencing the American election beyond having a weakened America. We don’t know what these are.
Decline of Democracy
16. Civil liberties are trampled like never before. Muslims and Mexicans are the primary targets, but the rule of law decays in America. Perhaps this leads to creeping fascism, or just to a demagogue destroying American democratic institutions.
17. All Americans are spied upon, all the time. Per Gingrich’s recommendation, an Un-American Activities Committee is reformed, targeting political opponents, liberals, etc. Registries of “subversives” are created. Political dissidence is squelched.
18. Registries of Muslims, religious tests barring Muslims from entry, and other anti-Muslim activities erode the fundamental constitutional order of the United States – and alienate our most important allies against radical Islamist terror.
19. Deporting three million people is a human rights nightmare, especially for the many undocumented who are contributing to society – and even more especially DACA enrollees, who were brought here as young children, and who gave over their private information in exchange for deferred action on deportation. Now ICE knows right where they are.
20. The “Trump Effect” leads to widespread violence and discrimination against people of color, Muslims, women, LGBT people, and Jews, among others. Rudeness, boorishness, chauvinism and vulgarity is commonplace and it often spills into physical attacks (as has already taken place).
21. The rise of the “Alt-Right” embodied in Steve Bannon will have unknown effects. At the very least, antisemitism and racism (such as the belief that blacks are mentally inferior to whites) is mainstreamed.
22. National stop-and-frisk and “law and order” policies lead to violent rebellion by people of color, which in turn leads to further militarization of police, crackdowns across the country, and an enormous spike in mass incarceration. Massive private prisons are built. Half of young black men are in the criminal justice system. Many are dead.
23. With the mainstream media no longer granted credentials or access to the White House, the ‘third estate’ is supplanted by partisan, billionaire-funded yellow journalism such as Fox News. The press itself becomes regarded as the enemy, and standards of truth and fact-checking are disregarded.
24. Trump continues to baselessly allege voter fraud, leading to widespread disenfranchisement, particularly of people of color. The GOP seizes on voter suppression as a primary way to maintain power as a minority party. Respect for civil institutions reaches all-time lows.
25. Trump’s outrageous kleptocracy goes unpunished by the GOP-led House of Representatives. In addition to his family siphoning billions of dollars off the US economy, American democracy becomes a banana republic in which kowtowing to the megalomaniac leader is de rigeur for anyone wishing to do business here.
26. Trump continues to insult and assault artists on social media, leading to de facto censorship, as well as further insult to American democratic ideals.
27. All of the foregoing and more lead to a retreat from truth and reasoned discourse more generally, and its replacement by yellow journalism, propaganda, and a conservative relativism that denies science and the basic principles of truthful exposition.
28. Trump’s absurd border policies are an abject failure, leading to further militarization of the border and numerous incidents of deadly violence.
Other Domestic Issues
29. All gun control is banned across America, with a federal law taking precedence over local and state regulations and banning gun restrictions. Handgun violence and mass shootings skyrocket, amplifying calls for “law and order.”
30. The ludicrous “Drill, Baby, Drill” mantra becomes national policy. Devastating spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the former Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Keystone XL and other mega-pipelines are built, and also spill. U.S. loses edge in renewable technologies, enriching China. And of course, climate change accelerates.
31. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act are repealed or unenforced, and pollution reaches levels never before seen in America. The EPA is dismantled from within by a ‘director’ cherrypicked from the fossil fuel industry. Climate change is ignored, and worsens.
32. America is paved: vast open areas are turned into coal mines, forests are clear-cut, and wilderness areas are destroyed across the country. The mass species die-off spikes. Migratory bird species, salmon, and other migrating species quickly go extinct.
33. GMOs, pesticides, and other newly unregulated technologies lead to unexpected devastation in ecosystems across the country.
34. With a former KKK sympathizer heading the Department of Justice, the Civil Rights Act is basically ignored and African Americans have essentially no legal protections whatsoever. The Voting Rights Act is fully repealed and we see a return to Jim Crow era restrictions on voting. Affirmative action is likewise repealed, of course.
35. Within a year, another Supreme Court justice dies, and so Trump will have nominated two arch-conservatives who not only roll back Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage but take a “strict” reading of the Commerce Clause and thus invalidate all civil rights laws, most environmental laws, and the modern American state as we know it.
36. With the passage of the ‘First Amendment Defense Act,’ it becomes legal to discriminate against LGBT people across the country. Taxpayer money flows to right-wing organizations like Catholic Charities. Conversion therapy is offered in public schools.
37. Transgender is declared to be mental illness. Not only are trans people not a protected category for civil rights, but they are no longer a category recognized by the federal government at all. Violence against trans people, already an epidemic, skyrockets.
38. The “re-Christianization” of America leads to billions of dollars flowing to conservative religious organizations and “religious liberty” laws that enable anyone to discriminate or otherwise flout laws for religious reasons. Like under President Reagan, the executive branch is filled with moralizers who use intimidation, censorship, and regulation to shut down “immoral” art and expression.
39. Focusing on the non-issue of “political correctness” and “safe spaces,” public university education is gutted, with numerous closings. Liberal arts education particularly suffers. The American work force is dumber and less adaptable than ever to changing conditions.
40. Under education “reform” officials like Betsy DeVos, federal funds for public education are rerouted to barely-regulated sectarian private schools. Ignorance skyrockets. Federal education curricula promote intelligent design, abstinence-only education, and discredited pseudoscience on sexuality.
41. With taxes slashed for the .01% richest Americans, the wealth gap balloons to levels unknown since feudalism. American society further stratifies into the extremely wealthy, controlling half of the wealth in the country, and everyone else. The depredations of the 1% look like a socialist paradise.
42. With Obamacare repealed and replaced by private health accounts, millions become uninsured once again, and the health system becomes further stratified, resembling an airplane with a crowded coach class and ever more opulent first class.
43. Union-busters take over (or eliminate) the Department of Labor, destroying the institutions most responsible for the middle class: labor unions. Wages fall across the country. Perhaps the so-called “white working class” wakes up to how it has voted against itself, or perhaps not.
44. With America retreating from the world stage, the dollar loses its status as reference currency, the New York real estate market crashes, and trillions of dollars of wealth are wiped out, causing economic depression.
45. A trade war with China and protectionist policies devastate the US economy, and since the TPP dies, China establishes economic dominance over the entire Pacific Rim. Either a global recession or a US depression quickly follows.
46. Dodd-Frank is repealed, which causes a new round of risk-taking and double-dealing on Wall Street, exacerbating the risk of a repeat of 2008. Wall Street wins big, and when the crash comes, they win big again, as in 2009. Trump’s supposed base loses.
47. The Trump administration meddles with the Fed, causing financial panic.
48. Immigration laws make it impossible for talented technology workers to come to the U.S., leading to a massive brain drain to other countries.
49. Net neutrality is utterly discarded, leading to a monopolization of the Internet by a small handful of companies whose content is available at high speed. The Internet as we know it is replaced by something that looks more like network television.
50. Giant monopolies, especially in finance, are allowed to be created through unregulated mega-mergers. Power is aggregated in a small handful of gigantic institutions. In addition to the United States formally becoming an oligarchy, the risk of a future crash increases by an order of magnitude. 2008 will look like nothing.