The influential Eurasia Group today put unstable US domestic politics and the potential for a “rigged” presidential election on top of its list of the ten global geopolitical risks for 2020.
It fears the impeachment of Donald Trump in the House and impending acquittal in the Senate will “delegitimize” the November election.
Eurasia chairman Cliff Kupchan and president Ian Bremmer fear that Democrats “will feel impeachment was politically quashed to place the president above the law, while Trump will feel empowered to interfere with election outcomes, with impeachment no longer a credible instrument of political restraint.”
They spell out a scenario in which Russia will again meddle in the presidential election, while Trump and his Republican allies stand on the sidelines and do little to tighten election security.
The vote will be perceived as “rigged,” and legal challenges will “likely fail in a conservative-leaning Supreme Court.”
But unlike the Gore-Bush Supreme Court ruling, “it’s hard to see a scenario in which the high court rules and the loser graciously accepts the outcome as legitimate, especially if the loser is Trump,” according to the Eurasia report.
If Trump is declared the winner by the Supreme Court, he will be viewed as lacking authority and America’s enemies will view him as the weakest president since Richard Nixon during Watergate.
The difference between Trump and Nixon, the current president doesn’t have a diplomatic master like Henry Kissinger to bail him out on the overseas front.
Eurasia believes Trump’s tendency is to align US policy with antagonists and frenemies such as Russia and Turkey, a move that will destabilize longstanding relationships with vulnerable allies like South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.
“More broadly, both US allies and enemies over the past years have come to wonder whether the US intends to lead, and they’ve hedged their bets accordingly,” wrote Kupchan and Bremer. “In the midst of a disputed 2020 election, many of those countries will wonder whether the US can govern itself. It’s a period of unusual geopolitical vulnerability to shock and escalation.”
The upshot: “a broken impeachment process, questions of electoral illegitimacy, and a series of court challenges will make this the most volatile year of politics the US has experienced in generations.”