Overview:

For many reasons—all laid out below—Donald Trump will win again in two years, and that will be that.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

“Them’s the breaks.”

 So said Boris Johnson the other day, as he resigned from the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in the wake of various scandals, exposed lies, and dwindling political support.

Alas, if only we had such normal-functioning, democracy-accepting political leaders in our conservative camp.

Instead, we have Donald Trump who—in two years from now—will regain control of the White House, ushering in the beginning of the end of democracy in the United States.

His team will consist of cronies, criminals, family members, and religious fanatics. He will readily dismantle the democratic institutions that had once existed to save the nation from the likes of him. He will arrest those who get in his way. He will establish a Putinesque a dictatorship.

And while many will stand aghast at these Republican-enabled fascist turn of events, most people will simply change the channel to watch the game, swipe up or down on TikTok or left or right on Tinder, and pop in another gummie.

Below, are the reasons I make this prediction:

Most Republicans love Trump. Despite his many crimes – including, for example, stealing money from a children’s cancer charity and supporting an armed coup—and despite his many lies—such as that he didn’t lose the election to Biden or that COVID could be cured by shining a light inside people—Trump remains incredibly popular, especially among right-leaning Christians. According to an ABC News poll, 60% of Republicans prefer his leadership of their party, which is actually up from mid-January 2021, just after the attempted coup, when it was at 57%.

And guess what? More Americans are currently becoming Republicans! Despite their brutally immoral agenda to make sure that every disgruntled teenager has quick and easy access to an AR-15, to destroy public education, to deny healthcare to working Americans, to force everyone to worship Jesus, to criminalize women’s bodies, and to blow the top off of every mountain in America, more and more people are flocking to their ranks. According to a recent LA Times analysis, “a political shift is beginning to take hold across the US as tens of thousands of suburban swing voters… are becoming Republicans,” with “more than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year.” Even some people of color have been leaning more towards Trump.

Next: Gerrymandering. As you read this, Republicans are working hard to rig election maps in order to disenfranchise Democrats (and people of color) and ensure Republican dominance in the House and Senate – especially in swing-states like North Carolina and Pennsylvania. While many of their efforts on this front have previously failed, now that they have a solid majority of conservative, radical Trumpists on the Supreme Court, their rigging will succeed. So, too, will their multiple battles against mail-in voting, which favors those of us on the left.

Also, as you read this, Trumpist operatives are taking over the institutional bureaucracy that oversees fair and legal elections. They are gobbling up seats on state election boards, they are becoming the chairs of these boards, and they are setting up plans to challenge and overturn election counts that won’t go their way. And the Republican state legislatures will lustfully support them in these schemes. As will the Trumpist Supreme Court.

Unbiased, civic-minded election officials who want to play by the rules are increasingly feeling the heat, and thus jumping ship. As voting rights journalist Matt Vasilogambros explains, “The lie that the 2020 election was rigged has ramped up the pressure on election officials, who increasingly face the prospect of criminal charges for even minor mistakes as well as death threats from voters in thrall to conspiracy theories.

In response, many nonpartisan officials are stepping down, clearing the way for people who embrace election falsehoods to seek their offices.” The Trumpists are doing just that.

So that’s the active Trumpist path to victory: suppress votes, limit voting access, gerrymander, take over election boards, threaten election officials, maintain the support of state legislatures, and enjoy the fealty of the nation’s highest court.

But there’s much more wind in Trump’s demagogic sails.

Like the fact that younger people, who lean progressive, don’t vote much. Indeed, about two-thirds of young adult Americans don’t vote at all. If even half of twenty-somethings voted, Trump would lose. But they won’t vote, and their TikTok-dazed flakiness will help him win.

Trump will also win because gas prices are high, the cost of food is high, inflation is spiking, and the economy is teetering. None of these are directly the fault of Biden or the Democrats. But Americans don’t give a shit—they are pissed and fearful and will vote for the opposing team, who will be led by Trump.

Speaking of being pissed and fearful—a large chunk of white people are just that. Whether they have a right to be is beside the point. What matters is that Trump’s popularity is sustained, in large part, by white Americans who are experiencing a sobering dose of status anxiety. Simply put: many white Americans, whether rich or poor, urban or rural, white collar or blue collar, have always been comforted by the knowledge that “their kind” are fully in charge. No matter their own personal circumstances, white people – as a caste — have always been dominant in all American institutions. This gave all white people a basic, fundamental status of superiority.

But this white supremacy—though still in place—is sprouting some leaks. Demographically, the white majority is shrinking: back in 2000, nearly 70% of Americans were white; today it is down to 60%. And there have recently been more people of color attaining highly significant, visible political roles previously only occupied by whites: the presidency, the vice-presidency, the US Attorney General, and so forth. And television and movie audiences are increasingly attracted to more diverse casts. And YouTube is helping to reveal the extent of white-on-black violence, generating some degrees of sympathy for those on the receiving end of such racism.

All of this scares a lot of white people. And they want a white savior. And Trump is their man; extensive social science has found, in study after study, that white racism is a major driving force of Trumpism—and it is not abating. If anything, it is increasing.

What I just said about racial dynamics is similarly at play with regards to the noxious white Christian backlash against women’s increased autonomy, the wider societal acceptance of homosexuals, the rising courage of gender nonconformists, the growing presence of Latinos and Asian Americans, the wider visibility of Muslims, the steadfastness of Jewish culture, and the unprecedented rise of the secular. The United States is changing—it is become more diverse, in numerous ways. And these changes disconcert lots of people. Add staggering levels of inequality, disappearing industries, low-paying jobs, a lack of adequate health care, and the blatant Amazonization of everything, and people get scared. And when scared, they often embrace hate. And now that such hate has an official party—the Republican party—our democracy will surely fall as a result.

But it isn’t just fear and hatred of racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, or gender minorities. It is a steadily percolating fear and hatred of bold, massive forces that are menacingly unknowable, unseeable, and hard to understand. Like globalization. Like the internet. Like international finance. Like AI. Like big data analytics. Like climate change. Like cryptocurrency. These brave new forces increasingly mock us as they shape our world and hem in our lives and determine our fates. And they are so very hard to examine and analyze – and nearly impossible to control. Thus, many Americans feel rudderless. Confused. Worried. Dwarfed. In such times, a Dear Leader is desired. Even one who is a draft-dodging, tax-evading, wealth inheriting, armed mob-stirring, backstabbing, fraudulent, ketchup-smearing, Putin ass-kissing, dangerously obese pussy grabber.

Democracy is an extreme newcomer to human affairs. It is fragile. It often fails. And it runs quite contrary to many deep-seated human desires, such as the need to be told what to do, the need to be told what to think, the need to be told how to live.

Such needs only increase as life becomes more precarious, economic systems become more mysterious, technology becomes more powerful, wealth becomes less equally distributed, the planet becomes hotter, and cultural changes occur with increasing rapidity. Humanity’s deep-seated need for a sense of structure and security that is often met by the grip of an authoritarian ruler was at the heart of Erich Fromm’s thesis in Escape From Freedom. In that classic work, Fromm argued that — despite people claiming to want and love freedom — the reality is that freedom is actually quite scary. It involves making choices and accepting consequences. It demands responsibility. It requires work. Thus, sometimes a lack of freedom is preferable. It is comforting. It is easy. It is why people join cults and follow gurus. It is why many people are religious. It is why many people follow authoritarian leaders. And it is why many people are now marching for Trump, quickly turning this “land of the free” into a dictatorship.

Oh, and also, Biden sucks. So does Harris.

For all of the reasons above, Trump will win in two years. Actually, he won’t win the most votes. But he’ll cheat and lie and steal the election. And the Bible-thumping, gun-toting Republicans will make it happen.

And that will be that.

Phil Zuckerman is the author of several books, including What It Means to be Moral (Counterpoint, 2019) The Nonreligious (Oxford, 2016), Living the Secular Life (Penguin, 2014), Faith No More (Oxford,...