Some years ago, circa November 2016, I told my wife that under Donald Trump, we’d eventually reach the point where U.S. Army tanks would roll through Times Square in New York City to quell protests.
For the better part of three years, she’s told me, “It’s still not that bad.”
Well, would you look at that. Washington, DC is on fire, there are protests in every major city, the National Guard is helping the police to hold the riots back, and Trump has just called up every active duty serviceman to ensure “perfect law and order.” Tonight she told me with a very pale, sober face that she’s thought for three years that she was sure it was just an exaggeration, that there was no way Trump would send the military into the streets.
I hate being right.
Well, actually, I’m pleased to say I wasn’t right this time. There are no tanks in Times Square. Yet.
So let’s do some more prognosticating. If there’s still an Internet next year to read this on, you can all grade me on how the next six months play out.
- Trump will send Army servicemen into a city that doesn’t actually want them to quiet the protests.
- A shot will be fired by an Army serviceman. A civilian will die.
- That will change the nature of the protests from “A lot of policemen are racist” to “The entire government is out to get us.”
- The protests will get bigger.
- COVID-19 will get worse, thanks to all that close contact, and even more people will die.
- Trump will double down on the protests and summon more servicemen into the cities.
- People will fight back, increasingly seriously, and a lot of civilians will die in the crossfire. The summer of 2020 will be bad.
- Trump will declare Martial Law, even though that’s not an actual power of the presidency.
- The election of November 2020 will be suspended for safety concerns, even though the Constitution forbids its suspension.
- Trump will declare himself President “until further notice.”
- Every president selected in a year that ends in zero dies, usually by assassination.
- If there’s still a United States after all this, historians will easily rank Donald Trump as the worst president ever, because James Buchanan at least tried to prevent a Civil War, even if he failed badly.
I’m really, really hoping this timeline doesn’t play out. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it won’t. Maybe one of Trump’s advisers will manage to pull him back from the brink. Maybe the protests will burn themselves out before the military makes a mistake we all can’t go back from. Maybe this year won’t play out like 1968 on steroids.
I can hope, can’t I?