‘We are on the brink’: One in three chance of “civil war,” warns billionaire investors

Hedge fund manager and investor says America’s polarizing political climate could push it into a civil war

Ariana Baio
Friday 17 May 2024 21:30 BST
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Billionaire investor Ray Dalio has raised concerns about the future of the United States, saying the current political climate has created a one-in-three chance for “civil war.”

In an interview with The Financial Times this week, Mr Dalio described how the polarization of American politics has contributed to an extremely “turbulent” time in history.

“We are now on the brink,” Mr Dalio told the news outlet, adding that he sees a 35 to 40 percent probability of a second civil war.

Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, said he has concerns about the future of the United States
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, said he has concerns about the future of the United States (Getty Images for Fast Company)

He clarified that the “civil war” he sees is not one where people “grab guns and start shooting” but one where people stop seeing the middle ground in politics. But he imagines, “People move to different states that are more aligned with what they want and they don’t follow the decisions of federal authorities of the opposite political persuasion,” Mr Dalio said.

Studies have shown that Americans are growing more politically polarized now than ever before. A Pew Research Poll found that only 32 percent of Americans have a roughly equal number of conservative and liberal positions – compared to 49 percent in 2004.

Contentious election cycles are becoming more common, which contributes to the growing rift between both political parties.

Social media has made it easy for like-minded extremists to connect and support each other which emboldens people to take radical action. Like those who organized protests and eventually stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

It was ultimately Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election that led to the extreme and violent action that day. But his refusal to call off his supporters and continue claiming the election was “stolen” from him has justified their actions that day.

Even now, as more Republicans echo his claims and refuse to believe the 2020 election was done fairly, it has inspired his supporters to continue backing him and ignore any criticisms from the other side of the aisle.

Mr Dalio, who founded Bridgewater Associates, said the upcoming 2024 election will be a test of democracy.

“Will there be an acceptance of the rules and an ability to work well under those rules?” he asked.

“Trump will follow more rightist, nationalistic, isolationist, protectionist, non-regulatory policies — and more aggressive policies to fight enemies internally and externally, including political enemies. Biden, and even more so the Democratic party without Biden, will be more the opposite, though they too will play political hardball.”

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