President? Supreme Court? Human Level AI? Putting things in perspective.
So let's put some of the things we worry about in perspective:
The possible threat of super-human AI.
The possible threat of climate change.
The possible threat of a Trump presidency.
The possible threat of a change in the composition of the Supreme Court.
Let's take the extremes, then move to the middle spectrum.
Super-human AI: My previous post argues that the threat of super-human API is substantial. Something is almost certain to happen, to happen relatively soon, and we have no f**ing idea what it's going to be. There are good reasons to believe that it could be very, very bad for humanity, as we know it.
Supreme Court: This is last refuge of people who have bought into "hold your nose and vote Trump™" They think Trump could very bad for the country, maybe, possibly and for four years; but a liberal Supreme Court will be bad for the country, for sure, certainly, and for decades.
To which I say: bullshit™.
The Supreme Court cannot decide to invade Iraq. It can't decide to "take their oil." It can't decide to build a wall. It can't start the nuclear launch procedure. It can't decide to change the tax code. It can't send a budget to Congress. It can't pardon felons, or reduce their sentences. Or arrest people who disagree with it. The president can, and many of these things (war, budgets, pardons, and arresting those who disagree) has been done by at least one president. And the rest could easily be done.
The Supreme Court is far more limited in what it can do. It can only act as the moderator of decisions made by elected representatives who have made laws, or decisions made by elected representatives who have enforced laws; and only when not resolved by lower level courts, and only when the Supreme Court decides to hear the issue.
Nearly half of all Supreme Court decisions are unanimous. The percentage decided by single-vote margins has never gone much above 20%.
Yes, it's true that the court has become far more polarized than it has been for most of its history. But the Supreme Court is not setting direction. It's settling corner-cases. Sometimes those corners are pretty big, but they are still at the margins. And the biggest issues--not the ones that get the most attention--are usually settled by sizeable majorities.
So the Supreme Court's composition is the smallest threat.
Climate change: Depending on your perspective, this is an overhyped threat; a natural process over which we have little control; or a problem of catastrophic proportions. But even in the worst case we are talking about changes that happen relatively slowly. Unlike the AI threat where we can honestly say: "we have no f**king idea what's going to happen" and pretty good theory that says changes can occur with enormous speed, the range of climate change outcomes is pretty constrained. It might be this bad. It might be that bad. But it is unlikely to destroy humanity in an eye blink. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this is in the range of AI threat possibilities.
Trump: Which brings us to Trump. Again, there's a range of possibilities, but unlike Climate Change, and like AI, we don't know what the f**k is going to happen with Trump.
I can imagine Trump being really good. But that's only because I've got an incredibly good imagination, and that's only if I work really hard at it. It's not easy imagining that someone who seems so resolutely ignorant, who says so many things that are false to fact, who has a history of temperamental reactions will do much good.
On the other hand, I find it ridiculously imagining these attributes leading to what we call Really Bad Things.
You might be one of those people who sees no problem with Trump. Or one who sees no essential difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. If so, I applaud your imagination.
But if, like me you see a big difference, and a big problem, then don't vote just to keep control of the Supreme Court.
Notwithstanding MSNBC, Fox News and Common Wisdom™, it's not all that important.