A Trump Second Term: should we accept catastrophe in silence?
Unpublished letter to The Spectator in reply to Sir Christopher Meyer
Based on his experience of the 2000 election Sir Christopher Meyer recommends a policy of diplomatic silence to Boris Johnson if, as is now all too likely, the current Presidential election ends in chaos and recrimination.
In 2000, the incumbent President, Bill Clinton, was serving out his final term. In 2020, Donald Trump will remain President until 20 January 2021. Silence by Johnson would imply acquiescence in anything Trump and his supporters do in that time to remain in office. At the very least, all of America’s NATO partners should meet now to anticipate what he might attempt as Commander-in-chief.
Sir Christopher was right to mention Republican attempts at voter suppression. These have been in progress for years and affect not only the groups he mentions but also minority ethnic voters generally, young people and students, poor people and voters with disabilities. Millions of likely Democratic voters in Republican-controlled swing states have already been deprived of a vote altogether or a convenient means to exercise it. Our Foreign Office regularly exhorts other countries to hold fair elections and respect their results: will it apply the same standard to the United States?
Sir Christopher’s recommendation assumes that Trump’s opponents would ultimately accept the legitimacy of a second Trump administration elected after voter suppression on a minority of the popular vote. This cannot be guaranteed. Many Democratic supporters believe that both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton acquiesced too easily in the “stolen elections” of 2000 and 2016. A second Trump term gained from a fraudulent mandate will test to breaking point the loyalties of Americans in the armed services, law enforcement and public administration in general. It is likely to be met by a wave of civil disobedience. Communities and entire states may secede and the United States could descend into civil war. Civic morality may collapse as millions of Americans decide to conduct themselves in Trump’s way: tell any lie they choose, break any law they choose, do down any other American they choose.
No friend of the United States can be silent over such a prospect.