Four hands | How much should we fear Trump?

The year 2024 will take place in the United States – and elsewhere in the world – under the sign of Donald Trump. Will he drive Joe Biden out of the White House? If so, how concerned should we be about what he will do to his country… and to the planet? Dialogue between our columnist and political scientist Alexandre Couture Gagnon, professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the United States.

Alexandre Sirois : Alex, do you have a crystal ball? If so, it’s time to dust it off. The most important election of 2024 is taking place in your adopted country. And it officially begins this Monday, January 15, with the Iowa caucuses, the first stage of the Republican Party leadership race. If Donald Trump is re-elected, the aftershocks of this earthquake will shake the entire world. The Eurasia Group recently estimated that the November presidential election represented the greatest risk for the future of the planet… ahead of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Ukraine! I won’t ask you if the former Republican president will be re-elected. More than ten months before the election, no one is able to predict it. I’m curious to know, however, to what extent you think he has a chance of ousting Joe Biden from the White House? For my part, if I were a Democratic strategist, I think I’d have trouble sleeping these days.

Alexandre Couture Gagnon : The next ten months will indeed be long. Candidates have time to get sick, Donald Trump’s four criminal trials can take on the appearance of Hollywood films and disasters risk upsetting the best predictions. If nothing major happens, Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate and will face Joe Biden. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley remain in the race, hoping for dramatic Republican primaries and caucuses, preventing Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination. I don’t dare make a prediction about the chances of Donald Trump becoming president again if he faces Joe Biden. The will of the people will determine the outcome of the election, but it will be played out at the level of states where we do not know whether citizens will vote Democratic or Republican on November 5, 2024: Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin.


Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley remain for the moment in the race for the Republican nomination, largely dominated by a certain Donald Trump.

Alexandre Sirois : As for the race for the leadership of the Republican Party, the games are set unless there is a serious unforeseen event, you are right. Donald Trump has exercised unchallenged dominance within his party since 2016. This is absolutely ridiculous: his most serious Republican rivals never really criticized him during this race. I would be willing to bet that almost all of them secretly covet the vice presidency in a possible Trump administration. What is terrible is that they contribute a little more every day to the normalization of a candidate who behaves in a less and less normal way. Donald Trump has become further radicalized. Everything indicates that if he is elected in 2024, he will take a much more marked authoritarian turn than in 2016. The word “dictator” comes up often these days…

Alexandre Couture Gagnon : If Donald Trump returns to the White House, he will have more experience. He will know how to implement his ideas on immigration and, according to what the New York Times, it sends shivers down your spine: border closure, mass expulsions, camps for migrants awaiting expulsion. A second term for Donald Trump will give him time to appoint even more conservative judges. He will be able to replace the heads of the agencies responsible for drugs (notably the Food and Drug Administration which extended the number of weeks during which mifepristone can be used for an abortion) and firearms. He will choose an attorney general who will promise him that the Justice Department will investigate his enemies. He will appoint ambassadors whose loyalty he will be certain of. He will abandon Ukraine. Above all, he will foment so many crises that Americans will divide even more.


Kyiv apartment complex partially destroyed by Russian missiles on January 2. If Donald Trump returns to the White House, he will abandon Ukraine, believes political scientist Alexandre Couture Gagnon.

Alexandre Sirois : Your prediction rings true. This is why, in my opinion, the Americans’ decision during the vote next November will take the form of a choice between the status quo (Biden) and chaos (Trump). Joe Biden’s record in the White House is pretty good. However, nothing works, his popularity is anemic. Will he be able to turn things around in the coming months? Or, like Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980, will he see dissatisfaction with him undermine his chances of re-election? I cling to the idea that a majority of Americans in a majority of key states will realize the threat that a Donald Trump 2.0 represents to the health of their democracy. We can count on Joe Biden to remind them of this. But his Republican rival now dares to claim that it is the Democrats who threaten democracy. A lie, if repeated often enough, can come to seem like the truth.


US President Joe Biden as he leavesAir Force One

Alexandre Couture Gagnon : Life is difficult in the United States despite the election of Joe Biden. The unemployment rate is low, but the lowest salaries still do not keep up with inflation. Americans are worried about their purchasing power and frustrated by the lack of political solutions. After economic issues, the country’s main problem according to Americans is immigration. Since December, some 10,000 people have entered the country outside of border crossings daily. The Democratic mayors of Chicago, Denver and New York publicly repeat that their cities are running out of steam due to the influx of immigrants. I expect these two down-to-earth issues to be decisive for voters on November 5, 2024. If these issues remain at the top of the political agenda, they will overshadow Joe Biden in the general election.

Alexandre Sirois and Alexandre Couture Gagnon wrote the book together The madness of the American empirepublished by Éditions La Presse.


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