Political Scientists: US Is Powder Keg Waiting To Explode In Political Violence
Many Americans are hoping that after the November election, the United States can return to some sense of normal if President Donald Trump is sent packing.
But according to Buzzfeed News, political scientists “who claim they have devised a measure of political instability that shows that the nation will still be a powder keg that is waiting to blow, even if a Biden landslide means that Trump has little choice but to step aside.”
“The tendency is to blame Trump, but I don’t really agree with that,” Peter Turchin, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut who studies the forces that drive political instability, told BuzzFeed News. “Trump is really not the deep structural cause.”
The most dangerous element in the mix, argue Turchin and George Mason University sociologist Jack Goldstone, is the corrosive effect of inequality on society. They believe they have a model that explains how inequality escalates and leads to political instability: Worsened by elites who monopolize economic gains, narrow the path to social mobility, and resist taxation, inequality ends up undermining state institutions while fomenting distrust and resentment.
- Turchin has built upon Goldstone’s work to develop “a statistic called the political stress indicator, or PSI. It incorporates measures of wage stagnation, national debt, competition between elites, distrust in government, urbanization, and the age structure of the population.”
- The evolutionary anthropologist warned a decade ago that the U.S. is in a rough situation that could result in a period of major turmoil, predicting that instability would peak in the neighborhood of 2020, according to the report.
- Turchin wrote in the journal Nature in February 2010: “In the United States, we have stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees, and exploding public debt. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of looming political instability.”
- If these issues are not meaningfully addressed, simply removing Trump from office will not produce the result many Americans hope for, Turchin maintains.
- Goldstone agrees: “If those trends continue after Trump departs, then the risks and the occurrence of violence will likely continue.”