A few last minute thoughts on tomorrow’s election:

No time to edit, just throwing this up there:

I think the most likely outcome is that Clinton will win by somewhat more than the polls predict. This is followed by a narrow Clinton win.

Nevertheless, I also think the polls could be wrong in the other direction, and the chance of Trump winning is at least 10%. Add in the possibility of a win for Clinton so close that refusal to accept the result extends beyond a small core of Trump supporters, and this is seriously scary stuff.

During the primaries I hoped the Republicans would nominate Trump, primarily because I thought he was the most beatable candidate. But I also thought he might do less damage than most of the other Republican candidates. On this, I now think I was very, very wrong.

I thought that his erratic positions and lack of attention would stop him driving much of an agenda, and what he had would cut across that of Congressional Republicans enough that much would be blocked anyway.

As a number of people have noted before me, the supine reaction of most Republicans up to this point suggests we shouldn’t be counting on any opposition from there. Moreover, while Trump might struggle to stay on message, that doesn’t apply to the people he would surround himself. Trump has pretty much hired the alt-right to run his campaign, and while there are differences in the details of their goals, they also have a hit list of things they agree on and have been plotting for a long time. When you look at what gamergate did, the consequences of putting these people in charge of America’s guns is genuinely terrifying. And who is going to stop them – the FBI?

Most crucially though, there is the point that Jonathan Chait has made, which most of us missed. Throughout all of Trumps changes over 30 years two things remain consistent. One is his narcissism, but the other is his belief that the violent crushing of dissent is not just legitimate, but desirable. How will a man who congratulated the Chinese government on slaughtering protesters in Tiannamin Square, not out of a desire to suck up to them, but through genuine endorsement, respond to the next DAPL protests.

Previously I thought that a Trump presidency would be four years of hell, but would at least have the reward of destroying the Republican Party. Now I seriously question whether, if Trump wins, there will ever be another election in the US that seriously deserves that name.

I’ve been wanting to write a longer piece about the debate about building an alternative to the two party system. I doubt I will get it done. Having once been very prone to hyperbole, I’ve tried to put it behind me. But I seriously would question whether, if Trump wins, there is any meaning to such an idea. I think it is highly probable that a President Trump would be giving orders that any serious opposition to his administration be exterminated, be that in the form of Congressional Democrats or prominent activists, and I’m not at all sure those orders wouldn’t be carried out.

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About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
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