It’s been a long time since America has been so divided politically, culturally, and spiritually. Two political commentators representing opposing sides found one thing they can both agree on—the country is coming very close to another civil war. As improbable as that still seems to most, more and more are willing to concede things are getting increasingly intense as people watch and wait to see what Washington D.C. tries to do next.
In America, talk turns to something unspoken for 150 years: Civil war
…First came former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova, a Fox News regular and ally of President Trump. “We are in a civil war,” he said. “The suggestion that there’s ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future is over. . . . It’s going to be total war.”
The next day, Nicolle Wallace, a former Republican operative turned MSNBC commentator and Trump critic, played a clip of diGenova’s commentary on her show and agreed with him – although she placed the blame squarely on the president.
Trump, she said, “greenlit a war in this country around race. And if you think about the most dangerous thing he’s done, that might be it.”
With the report by special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly nearly complete, impeachment talk in the air and the 2020 presidential election ramping up, fears that once existed only in fiction or the fevered dreams of conspiracy theorists have become a regular part of the political debate. These days, there’s talk of violence, mayhem and, increasingly, civil war.
A tumultuous couple of weeks in American politics seem to have raised the rhetorical flourishes to a new level and also brought a troubling question to the surface: At what point does all the alarmist talk of civil war actually increase the prospect of violence, riots or domestic terrorism?
Speaking to conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, diGenova summed up his best advice to friends: “I vote, and I buy guns. And that’s what you should do.”
…The concerns about a civil war, though, extend beyond the pundit class to a sizable segment of the population. An October 2017 poll from the company that makes the game Cards Against Humanity found that 31 percent of Americans believed a civil war was “likely” in the next decade.
More than 40 percent of Democrats described such a conflict as “likely,” compared with about 25 percent of Republicans. The company partnered with Survey Sampling International to conduct the nationally representative poll.
Some historians have sounded a similar alarm. “How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?” Victor Davis Hanson, a historian with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, asked last summer in an essay in National Review. Hanson prophesied that the United States “was nearing a point comparable to 1860,” about a year before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
Around the same time Hanson was writing, Robert Reich, a former (Clinton)secretary of labor who is now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, imagined his own new American civil war, in which demands for Trump’s impeachment lead to calls from Fox News commentators for “every honest patriot to take to the streets.”
“The way Mr. Trump and his defenders are behaving, it’s not absurd to imagine serious social unrest,” Reich wrote in the Baltimore Sun. “That’s how low he’s taken us.”
(And yet it must be noted that it’s Democrats who have been calling for the impeachment of President Trump since he won the election in 2016 because they were the ones who refused to accept the election’s outcome, a fact Mr. Reich neglects to admit to. And it’s more Democrats, not Republicans, who are now calling for a civil war in America because to date they’ve been unable to force Trump from office.)