Bridgewater Associates founder and legendary investor Ray Dalio sounded the alarm on the perilous state of American politics, admitting he’s dreading a rerun of the fractious 2020 Trump-Biden election which scarred the country.
That deeply divisive contest for the White House, which resulted in a Biden win, eventually led to an insurrection on January 6, 2021, where Trump engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful election results and failed to act to stop Republican supporters from attacking the Capitol.
Dalio has already called the 2024 election the most important one of our lifetimes, as Fortune CEO Alan Murray reminded him in conversation at Fortune’s Global Forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Dalio responded that he was praying.
“I pray that we do not have another Trump-Biden election because that will produce a lot of problems," Dalio said.
"What we need is a very strong middle," Dalio urged, advocating for a return to a more centrist approach that could bridge the divide between ideological extremes. Then he laid out how he sees that playing out—or not.
"We have irreconcilable differences by sides that will not accept losing," Dalio declared, pointing to the festering extremism that threatened to tear the fabric of the nation apart in 2021, while also framing the polarization issue as a far-left versus a far-right in America, with a shrinking middle, or moderate, political center.
The outspoken investor minced no words, asserting that "no good government, no good society exists with this kind of fighting." Dalio expressed deep concern over the dire implications of such political skirmishes, emphasizing their potential economic and tax ramifications.
"This is not good governance; it has big implications and can have a big economic and tax impact," he warned. The big question, he continued, is whether an alternative candidate will emerge on the Republican side, and he sees two scenarios for how that will play out.
“Nikki Haley is the leading candidate from my point of view. She’s smart, can work across party lines, has the quality of the character and she's been through the system."
“If Haley did get the nomination (from Republicans), she would be the probable winner in a presidential election," Dalio said. "Almost everybody would say that.”
Dalio added that if Haley gets the nomination, he strongly believes the Democrats would have to reconsider running Biden against her. “The question is whether Biden runs. The combination of his age issue, his popularity and so on is a problem."
This all means that the real race has not yet begun, the billionaire said. "The interesting election" will be the South Carolina primary between whatever alternative candidate emerges and Trump.
Regardless of who wins, Dalio concluded, "We’re also going to need reforms" to ensure the system is working for most people.
He highlighted that his family office has three branches: in the U.S., in Singapore and in Abu Dhabi, and as he told Murray, "In the world today there are bright spots." These places "have a culture in which there’s excellent education for most people, in which there’s civility," and in which the economy is thriving.
And he is praying—but he isn't exactly hopeful—that the U.S. will remain one of these places.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com