Friday, July 01, 2022

Dreading The Oncoming Storm

Update: Thank you again Batocchio for linking this blog through Crooks & Liars Mike's Blog Round-Up! Good luck everybody... 

I've probably left enough clues on this blog by now that I live in Florida, have been ever since my family moved down here when I was seven. I've also left enough clues that I'm really hating the growing realization that this state leans too far conservative on political issues, and I'm stuck here surrounded by coal-rolling Bible-thumping MAGA morans.

But this past month in June - especially as the Far Right Roberts Court issued their extremist legal decisions on abortion, voting rights, prayer in school, and finishing up with gutting federal regulatory power - that constricting, painful feeling became overwhelming.

I've had conversations in-person with two different people this past week, both of them talking about fleeing for the safety of Blue states and which ones were the easiest to move to (I'm partial to Virginia, but I hope Youngkin is a goddamned aberration up that way and the residents learned they got hoodwinked).

One of my co-workers honestly asked me, "Are we going to have another civil war?"

I once blogged I believed another civil war in the United States was a bad idea, that it was coming from cranks and foreign "experts" who were shilling fantasies over reality. However, ever since trump bullied and lied his way into the White House, with the Far Right media gaslighting and calling for open insurrection, and with more than a third of our nation actually believing his Big Lie of stolen elections I've been reconsidering the insane partisan rift between Far Right and The Rest Of The Nation has become too violent to ever get repaired.

I'm not the only one worried about this. Stephen Marche at the Guardian sees the same divide and believes it's no longer an "If" it's now a question of "When and Where":

Accelerating political violence, like the attack in Buffalo, increasingly blurs the line between the mainstream political conservative movement and outright murderous insanity. The question is no longer whether there will be a civil conflict in the United States. The question is how the sides will divide, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how those strengths and weaknesses will determine the outcome.

The right wing has been imagining a civil war, publicly, since at least the Obama administration. Back in 2016, when it looked like Hillary Clinton would win the election, then Kentucky governor Matt Bevin described the possibility in apocalyptic terms: “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood. Of who? The tyrants, to be sure. But who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren,” he told supporters at the Values Voter Summit...

The struggle over abortion has already revealed how the divide plays out. Anti-abortion factions control the pseudo-legitimate court system and the poorer states in the Union. Pro-choice factions have responded, first of all, with their superior financial resources. Oregon started the Oregon Reproductive Equity Fund with $15m. New York is establishing a fund to make the state a “safe haven”. California governor Gavin Newsom plans to add $57m to the state budget to deal with out-of-state patients...

Incipient civil conflict in the United States won’t be formal armies struggling for territory. The techniques of both sides are clarifying. Republican officials will use the supreme court, or whatever other political institutions they control, to push their agenda no matter how unpopular with the American people. Meanwhile, their calls for violence, while never direct, create a climate of rage that solidifies into regular physical assaults on their enemies. The technical term for this process is stochastic terrorism; the attack in Buffalo is a textbook example.

The leftwing resistance is more nascent but is also taking shape: if you’re rich and you want to stay living in a democracy, the time has come to pony up. If you’re an engineer, the time has come to organize. The conclusion is not at all determined. Neither side has an absolute advantage. Neither side can win easily. But one fact is clear. The battle has been joined, and it will be fought everywhere...

I've noted before, unlike the first Civil War where the geographic boundaries were distinct, this second Civil War will be more along demographic dividing lines within each state. The Far Right won't likely have states seceding, but will have their governors, their wingnut preachers and pundits, and other regional elected officials rallying their followers into terror attacks on liberal targets (they know they won't survive attacking military forces head on, they'll go after civilian targets like schools and nightclubs and stores like they've already been doing the last 25 years). The Progressives and Center-Left populations will likely take non-violent routes like street protests and calls for strikes, but will come to rely on whatever remains of a Democratic-led federal government responding to the insurrection as they are now (with arrests, court trials, and pleas to sanity).

The results of the coming midterm elections will determine the "where" and "who" this civil war will decide itself. 

If the Democratic Party retains control of both parts of Congress, the Far Right will scream "stolen votes" and declare all Dem results within Red States invalid, throwing elections to Republicans in spite of the voters. This could trigger outright secession efforts in battleground states like Texas, Georgia, or Florida.

If the Republicans flip control of Congress - or gain control of either the House or Senate - the Democrats will point to Republicans' extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression and denounce the unfairness of Republicans' minority rule. It's unlikely the Blue states will call for secession - as it would undermine President Biden's authority and go against the liberal viewpoint of federal powers exceeding the states - but more likely throw as much of the legal system into chaos nationwide as well as interfere with any Republican attempt to impose their wingnut laws on everyone.

How bad the fighting will get depends on which way the United States military intervenes in all this. While they're not supposed to fight in our own borders against technically our own people, if open secession and/or insurrection takes place, whoever is President can employ the Insurrection Act and call on the armed forces to act then. donald trump wanted to use that law to declare the 2020 election results illegal and the Blue states in rebellion, but the legal experts and military leaders told him no (It's believed if counter-protestors had gone to Capitol Hill to fight against trump's rioters, he could have justified it then. But when it was just his own people committing violence, he couldn't declare them in insurrection and so didn't do it). If Biden is forced by escalation of violence in the streets by the Far Right, he could invoke the Insurrection Act against them, but it will depend on which way the Joint Chiefs and the rest of the military will accept it (there is a possibility that a sizable percentage of personnel are Christianist extremists and could start undermining military effectiveness at the least).

Given the nature of the partisan division - that it's along party lines across every state, and that it's along educational and ethnic and income lines within every state - there really is no safe place in America when (not if) the extremism of the Far Right - either in denial of a Democratic midterm victory or in vindication of a Republican one - triggers a series of violent acts in soft target areas (The Far Left, for all the complaints from conservative pundits about the dangers of Antifa and Black Lives Matters, are not that violent).

There's a storm coming. Stirred up by decades of Far Right Culture War bullshit.

I keep saying this: None of this will end well until Republicans are completely out of power and their wingnut foot soldiers all in jail for the bloodshed they're about to inflict on the rest of us.

Gods help us.


dinthebeast said...

I don't see a "war" as the dictionary defines it "intense armed conflict" happening the way the right imagines it, mostly because they would be crushed by the actual military, which has long since advanced very far beyond the grasp of any "militia" group's imagination.
What I see is a bunch of heavily propagandized and disaffected wannabe bullies out for a cosplay of their revenge fantasies.
Any random unit of the US Army would have put down the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys at the Capitol on January 6 in minutes, not hours. It would have been bloody beyond imagination, but the outcome would never have been in doubt.
So what we're discussing is political control, which includes command of the military.
There, they do have more formidable weaponry. After a decades long, lavishly funded propaganda assault, they have a large voting bloc addicted to the lies they tell, and thus shamed away from admitting the truth.
They are still a minority, though, and will remain so, if only by a frighteningly small margin.
That gives us, the foot soldiers of this conflict, our marching orders:
We have to win five or six election cycles, preferably but not necessarily in a row.
Thomas and Alito are in their mid-seventies. and a few good elections would render a 5-4 swingy kind of SCOTUS again where sanity would again be possible.
But it will be difficult as all hell, especially for us easily distracted Democrats who seem to have a much more challenging time staying single-mindedly focused for more than a few months or so. But the alternative is what? Theocratic autocracy? None for me, thank you very much.
I live out in the boonies where according to the New York Times, there are 71% Republicans in the 1,000 closest residents to me, and we do encounter the occasional racist shithead, and everyone rightly assumes everyone else to at least have access to firearms, but for the most part we all get along well despite our obvious differences.
I have every confidence that a shooting war will not be breaking out at the community meeting on the 16th.
What will become of my former home in the East Bay is not quite as certain, but I still feel like they are stable enough (even if they do throw a riot like most places throw a party) there to withstand the tearing of the social fabric that SCOTUS is currently inflicting with a meat-axe.
Metro areas with a weaker political left are an entirely different question, one that I have no personal experience with and feel no authority to opine over.
I still have a feeling that any actual combatant in the actual civil war would see our present difficulties as less dire than we do, but also that ever to have been the case.
I'd invite you to come live in California, but good luck finding affordable housing here, as many others have had the same idea.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see somebody else using the convention(?) of not capitalizing "trump." His actions have clearly demoted him to common noun status, unworthy of any distinction from others such as "refuse," "stain," "excrement" and many others that require no great effort to list.

John Benson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Benson said...

Sorry missed an egregious typo.

As much as I dislike much of Kevin Phillips politics, I think his observation that the political lines drawn in the mid 1600s in England still play a strong role in our politics is a good one. If we accept that the US still has Cavalier and Roundhead divisions playing out there is very little reason to believe that a modern civil war in the US wouldn’t look very much like the English Civil War with no clear geographic boundaries and pockets of one side or another developing. Another feature will be defections from one side to the other, in that case the Blue areas might have an advantage.

One feature you didn’t point out is that the Blue areas while more liberal don’t really have a single guiding ideology, in fact the more defining feature of the Blue areas is an almost enforced diversity not only of people but of ideas. The Red areas are more ideologically cohesive but much of that cohesion has been driven by culture war propaganda. The English Civil War analogy breaks down differently in our particulars, but still carries a weird and freakish thread.

The Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War were probably the more ideologically cohesive group in terms of; form of government supported, religious views and economics. A big difference was adherence to a divine right king, almost a chosen one if you will. Despite the fact that in many respects Oliver Cromwell seems to have been a bully and a bigot more like trump, he never really seemed to develop a devoted cult following. The Stewart cult may have been as much to blame for Royalist losses as any ideological strength on the Parliamentarian side. A divine right King who rules and fights so poorly clearly may not really have divine providence on his side. If you’re held to the Royalists by the belief that he was the anointed of God, then losing says that God isn’t on his side.

In our case the start of a new civil war and the ultimate success of that war may come down to how successful trump was in grafting his cult of personality onto the culture war monster the GOP has been creating for the past 5 decades.

Unknown said...

I just wish the racist and fascist trash would stop trying to talk us to death, pick up their guns and start their Christo-fascist skidmark rebellion. We're going to decorate every telephone pole in the nation with their corpses.

I lived in Florida 1975-6. All I remember is overdevelopment and when I went to the city hall at Reddington Shores to pay a ticket, when I was parking there were a half-dozen old farts standing there on the sidewalk with nothing better to do than to determine if I had parked legally. It's a place with no history and no soul run by rich real estate developers like Donald for their sole benefit.

Green Eagle said...


I was interested in your comments about Florida. Though most people are not aware of this, the 1920's boom and 1927 real estate collapse in Florida was the major precursor event of the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. For anyone interested in this subject, I recommend John Kenneth Galbraith's short book, "The Great Crash," which explains it all. Once again, Republicans are playing with fire, and that fire will destroy us all if not put out.

Glen Tomkins said...

I doubt we will have another civil war, geographically divided as in 1861 or more dispersed like the English Civil War. Both those earlier examples of politics turned to armed conflict took off from a pre-conflict state in which there just weren't sizable armed forces already existing. The King and Parliament, the USA and the CSA, all had to raise armies mostly from scratch.

As has been pointed out, the US in 2022 has an existing military establishment that is quite large, and would dominate any battlefield unless it divides nearly evenly between the two sides. Unless there is a deep and nearly even split, neither side would have a chance to raise fresh armies, because the standing army we already have would have settled the matter long before new armies could be raised, and once having achieved prevailed, the winning side would not let the other side raise armies.

I don't think it likely that the standing military forces we have now would split at all evenly, for two separate but related reasons.

Most fundamentally, it is my impression that the US military in 2022 is made up of people who tend to identify far more strongly with the military than with the US. Sure, up front there is sworn loyalty to the US and not the military, and my point is not that there are at all many service members who don't take their oaths quite seriously and sincerely. My point is that when they joined the military and took that oath, loyalty to the US and civilian control of the military was entirely abstract, because up until just recently, there was no thought by very many at all that civilian govt in the US could possibly fracture, and that therefore there was any possibility of professional loyalty forcing a choice for one side or another in a civil war as a real, immediate, concrete issue. I suspect, quite strongly, that the reluctance to kill fellow members of the military would, if it came to an actual need to make a choice whose orders to obey, trump allegiance to any civilian faction claiming that loyalty to their oaths required them to fire upon fellow soldiers. The way out of this dilemma would be for the military as a whole to pick one side, and so there would be little chance of having to fire upon fellow military members, and those few exceptions would be easy to justify as these few who took up arms on the other side having it coming, because they crossed the Rubicon against what most of the military is going to have convinced itself is the legitimate civilian authority. We would have a coup, not a civil l war, because the side the military came down on would win without any actual warfare.

The other side of the coin from our having a large established military that has had decades to acquire its own identity and ethos, is that our political culture has atrophied to the point that neither of the two camps, R or D, of potentially competing claims of civilian control of the military, commands much loyalty from anyone, or, more importantly, is much likely to take responsibility for outlawing the other party. This is very clear when said of the Ds, who tolerated an insurrection that stormed the Capitol on 1/6, and then let the sun set on a president still in the WH who had quite openly attempted that coup, and has since let many suns set on Trump roaming about free promising he will succeed next time. Who is there in our political spectrum who you might imagine is going to call on the military to put down rebellion when we see rebellion already realized, and nothing done about it? Oh, okay, maybe that's not entirely fair, we are pursuing hearings and the prosecution of foot soldiers, but the unwillingness to suspend habeas corpus and use the military tribunals necessary to bring the leaders of the insurrection to justice in a country where neither judges nor juries are going to find them guilty however great the proof, is pretty much a complete abdication of the duty to suppress rebellion.

John Benson said...

That's a pretty reasonable analysis.

I have a little quibble with this: "I don't think it likely that the standing military forces we have now would split at all evenly." For some rather different reasons. The Air Force has a real problem with fundamentalists and evangelicals at the Academy, I don't think you can assume they'd join the other branches of the military if those branches didn't follow the faction chosen by the fundamentalist and evangelicals.

The other services you are probably correct, although the navy's Seal operations seem to have produced an abundance of really dangerous people so who knows.

I don't think they split evenly, but I also don't think they're really well designed to fight unconventional wars, and I don't think a modern civil war in the US would be conventional.

Paul W said...

Okay, I just want to mention that 1) I've asked people not to post as Anonymous and that should also cover Unknown, if you're going make comments here own up to them; and 2) I do not openly encourage acts of violence. I may joke about it once or twice in an article or three, but advocating violence against violence isn't helping. If we have to fight, don't be the ones to start it but the ones to finish it.

As for the potential paths the upcoming civil war is going to take, it's all speculation at best. The only obvious things are that the Far Right terror groups like the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, and Patriot Front are going to be first to the streets with their AR-15s; and that any open insurrection is going to depend on which side the U.S. military comes down to. I doubt the current military leadership will side with trump (given his derisive views of military service, and the likelihood he's in cahoots with Russia) but it will be difficult for them to resist him if he "wins" re-election in 2024. If the fighting happens while Biden is still President, the Joint Chiefs will likely side with him (both out of Constitutional oath to the C-in-C, and because trump will be an out-of-control Putin stooge).

No matter what, the violence is going to get worse than the near-daily mass shootings we're suffering now. Stay safe.