The Astonishing Rise of Existential Threats

John McWhorter
The Astonishing Rise of Existential Threats

The term existential threat is fertile of late, especially among Democratic presidential hopefuls. It has become a set term in reference to climate change, as used by Governor Jay Inslee and by Senator Elizabeth Warren, both on Twitter and in speeches, while Mayor Pete Buttigieg has used the variation existential security challenge. Former Vice President Joe Biden refers to President Donald Trump as an existential threat to the nation, and Senator Cory Booker widens the lens, applying the term to the opiate crisis, suicide rates, and even our general lack of civic unity.