Some of us have been referencing a “Cold Civil War” fought out within the country going at least as far back as Trump’s trip down the escalator, perhaps back to the “Birther” bitterness over what many on the right considered an illegitimate president. But now a reporter for The Guardian, Stephen Marche, has written a book, The Next Civil War, outlining why the U.S. has already entered its second real Civil War, that it’s not “cold,” that it will get “hotter,” and that the United States refuses to recognize it.
Marche, authors a summary piece out today which emphasizes that no one really believed that the United States would fight the first Civil War until shots were fired. In other words, the dynamic then is close to what it is now. We aren’t as sure.
Marche makes some obvious points:
The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls.
It likely doesn’t even need to be noted but we will point out that just like in the first Civil War, the feud is rooted in the fact that the conservatives (parties change, political leanings do not) are once again the ones unwilling to alter their beliefs to win elections and function as a democracy, and are willing (wanting?) to use physical force or ridiculous voting laws to ensure minority government allows them to impose their agenda against a majority.
It is not enough that the Right uses the least democratic institution on Earth – the United States Senate – to stall out the will of the majority of the people (the minority is vastly over-represented in the Senate and the rules protect the minority from ever having to lose a vote), but is now unsatisfied with even that advantage and wants to take advantage of the chaos they’ve already shown they can and will cause, at least according to Marche:
The right is preparing for a breakdown of law and order, but they are also overtaking the forces of law and order. Hard right organization have now infiltrated so many police forces – the connections number in the hundreds – that they have become unreliable allies in the struggle against domestic terrorism.
Any doubts? Imagine what happens when it’s announced that Joe Biden won another close election over Donald Trump in 2024. Without using too much of the long article, we will publish one important summation:
What the American left needs now is allegiance, not allyship. It must abandon any imagined fantasies about the sanctity of governmental institutions that long ago gave up any claim to legitimacy. Stack the supreme court, end the filibuster, make Washington DC a state, and let the dogs howl, and now, before it is too late. The moment the right takes control of institutions, they will use them to overthrow democracy in its most basic forms; they are already rushing to dissolve whatever norms stand in the way of their full empowerment.
The right has recognized what the left has not: that the system is in collapse. The right has a plan: it involves violence and solidarity. They have not abjured even the Oath Keepers. The left, meanwhile, has chosen infighting as their sport.
Take it up with Joe Manchin, who is too smart to not know this is happening, and for some reason, doesn’t seem to care. Marche perfectly describes the dynamic and direction the nation is heading, but – at least in the article, leaves two components unaddressed.
First, it is impossible to not notice that the government the Right seems to envision as “perfect” is almost the exact type of “government” utilized in Russia, where laws don’t apply to certain people, and certain people, though fixed elections, determine the laws that will be imposed upon others. Russia is most certainly a world leader in minority rule… by white men.
Indeed, at least this writer believes it is impossible to separate the movement happening in the United States without looking directly at Russia and its infiltration of the United States government, a fact that is clearly out in the open but no one seems to want to acknowledge. The NRA went bankrupt after it was exposed as a conduit for Russian money. Uncannily, Russian support always seems to fall upon the side that wants that lawless, chaotic, strongman, fascist, approach to government and collapse of American institutions. When Putin invited a select group of politicians to Moscow on July 4th of 2018, he did not invite any Democrats.
Second, the United States government might falter as a democracy, that is certainly true, but as to a real Civil War like the other, where troops line up against troops and ICBMs criss-cross the country? It is hard to imagine for one reason and that reason might also be the reason democracy is preserved.
The true decision-makers on both sides, the would-be leaders in this war realize how much war would “cost,” and are not about to give up their gated communities, their box seats to NFL games, and the all-expense-paid trips to conventions in La Jolla and Maui. Moreover, in some ways, the people in the seat of government are not necessarily the real leaders of this country.
Odd as this might seem, the ultimate defense against a fascist-like Russian government might be corporate America. Is Goldman Sachs really going to allow a fascist right-wing government to take over, no matter their political leanings? Delta Airlines? Amazon? Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo….
American society is premised upon the thirty-year mortgage, a bet that the next thirty years will follow the patterns of the past thirty years. The banks cannot prevent terrorist acts or ever-intensifying Republican militancy, but it is worthwhile to remember the mood on January 7th through 10th last year. That mood has been largely beaten back by one man who leads more of a cult than a political movement and cults are invulnerable right up until they’re not. And then they crumble.
So, while we’re still well aware of the fact that we’re amidst a Cold Civil War, it is not at all apparent to us that the situation must end in a fascist state where the Constitution exists but is ignored. The United States, particularly corporate America got far too rich within a system that functioned as it had and are unlikely to want to gamble all their shit within a new government where the Trumps, DeSantis’s, Hawleys, Hannitys, and the like, function as the new Jefferson, Madison, Washington, etc.
Domestic terrorism and militias will be a problem, a big problem, and blood will be shed. But again, forces far stronger than certain crazed senators may demand that it be capped, lest the flow of money be interrupted.
A Cold Civil War? Yes. We are there. Getting very hot, battles, and a collapsed government? We don’t see it, not yet. But, apparently, neither did they, back then, back in 1858.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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