Is It Too Late To Avoid Civil War and Save Our Democracy?

Ye Olde Blogge has been worried about where our democracy is going. We’ve speculated about how to bridge the gap with the other side. We’ve wondered whether it would be better to make like the Beatles and split or be the Rolling Stones and stay together turning out the occasional hit and coasting on our past glory. We’ve even done the math — okay, read about other people doing the math — and in our case when we add two and two together we get way past the tipping point.

Vox has an article reviewing the findings in political research about the effects of polarization as deep and wide as what we’re experiencing today. Our prospects are bleak to say the least. “Democracies have a hard time depolarizing once they’ve reached this level,” Jennifer McCoy a political scientist at Georgia State University who has studied polarized democracies and their fates.

Democracies have a hard time depolarizing once they’ve reached this level

This is one of the most worrying conclusions that I’ve read. Ye Olde Blogge has been concerned about what we as citizens can do to help us ensure that our democracy continues. We’ve explored trying to make nice with MAGA Nation and the division of nation. It doesn’t look good folks primarily because MAGA Nation and the GQP refuse to participate in democracy any more. You can’t have one team playing baseball and the other mugging the fans in the stands and call it a football game.

The other most worrying conclusion is that our republican system of governance maybe close to collapse crushed under the weight of legislative gridlock and partisan conflict, i.e. the refusal to compromise with political opponents, which is the bedrock of democracy.

Reform is necessary, but how do reform the government when one side is busy gutting it like a fish?

Signs of Likely Collapse

Barbara Walter, a University of California San Diego expert on civil war, has identified four circumstances that herald the likely collapse of a democracy:

  • when they are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic. Other than Biden’s legislative successes, when was the last time significant legislation passed and was signed into law? With increasing legislative gridlock, we’ve been forced to rely on executive orders to keep the country functioning. Check this box, amirite?
  • when the leading political parties are sharply divided along multiple identity lines. The States are about as clearly divided as can be. Much has been written about how exclusively white, rural, and Christian the GQP has become and how diverse, liberal, and urban the Democratic party is. We’re there.
  • when a once-dominant social group is losing its privileged status. As the demographics of the country change, white people are losing their privileged status. This demographic of the 6 January insurrectionists still astounds me, but it is so telling: Fifty-two percent of the insurrectionists were from counties that Biden won. What did those counties have in common? They all have declines in the white non-Hispanic populations. Declines that the white people living there are painfully aware of.
  • and when citizens lose faith in the political system’s capacity to change. Given that three-quarters of MAGA Nation believes the Big Lie tells you all that you need to know. Even if 72% of Americans believe that the insurrectionists were a real and present threat to our democracy, will they vote that way in 2022? Even if they do vote that way, will it make a difference with the voter nullification laws enacted in various states? Do any of us have faith in Congress to get anything done? Respect for the judiciary is slipping — Here’s a sure sign, the longer SCOTUS delays on making a decision about whether Trump has to turn over documents to the 6 January committee, the more they are likely to be openly partisan in their judiciary decisions. Yeah, I think this box is ticked, too.

Conclusion: We’re fucked because the only way to reform a system that one party is actively destroying is through bloody fucking conflict. The problem is that too many people do not accept that our situation is as dire as it is. As long as Netflix works, we can go to work, and vote, most white people are satisfied that the system works. As long as the rest of us are being worked to the bone to make ends meet, we’ll be too fucking worn out to do anything about it.

The other problem is that half of the country has been fantasizing about this exact moment for the past fifty years. They have been aching to take their guns and defend their freedoms, which is shorthand for shooting Blacks, Browns, Muslims, and liberals at will. If they really believe that the government isn’t going to protect them from the criminalized Black menace, then they’ll take their protection into their own hands a la McClownskies.

“Every single person I interviewed who’s lived through civil war, who was there as it emerged, said the exact same thing: ‘If you had told me it was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you,’” she warns.

Barbara Walter How does this end?

The biggest question is what will you do as things go to hell in a handbasket? Thinking of scenarios, options, and choices in advance will help you be more prepared. Actually preparing for the possibilities will make it more likely that you’ll act. Everyone needs to decide. Everyone needs to understand the magnitude of the moment that we confront.

Let us know what you think about the possibilities, eventualities, and the choices that we face in the comments.

How does this end?

Where the crisis in American democracy might be headed.

Zack Beauchamp 3 Jan 2022

Americans have long believed our country to be exceptional. That is true today in perhaps the worst possible sense: No other established Western democracy is at such risk of democratic collapse.

January 6, 2021, should have been a pivot point. The Capitol riot was the violent culmination of President Donald Trump and his Republican allies’ war on the legitimacy of American elections — but also a glimpse into the abyss that could have prompted the rest of the party to step away.

Yet the GOP’s fever didn’t break that day. Large majorities of Republicans continue to believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and elected Republicans around the country are acting on this conspiracy theory — attempting to lock Democrats out of power by seizing partisan control of America’s electoral systems. Democrats observe all this and gird for battle, with many wondering if the 2024 elections will be held on the level.

Continue reading at Vox: How does this end?

COMMENT, please

This post begs for commentary. What do you THINK is going to happen?

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Image Attribution

“‘Civil War-ize Yourself’?” by kbrookes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

18 replies »

  1. I am emotionally worn out about worrying about our democracy Jack. I’m just trying to stay healthy from the idiots who refuse to wear a mask. Is rising Corona cases amid red state then a possible resolution to this right wing extremist problem ? Maybe we can simply outlive their destructive ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy James!

      I hope your trip is going well. I’ll have to drop in and see what you’re posting!

      I am, too. Unfortunately, the threat is real and succeeding. We’ve got a long row to hoe here, so rest up, recharge, and continue treating us to your memories of struggles past.



  2. A large minority of the country cannot imagine how anybody in their right mind would not vote for Donald Trump and want him to still be in the White House for as long as he wants to be there.

    Another large minority cannot imagine how anybody in their right mind would vote for Trump, ever, for any office.

    The first group sees that man as a genius businessman, teller of truths the traditional powers that be don’t want told, and the savior of the nation.

    The second group see him as a liar, cheat, fraud, bully, and incompetent, who belongs in jail and probably should have been long since just based on his business practices, let alone anything he has done in politics.

    I don’t know how to bridge that divide.

    I have given thought to the worst case scenarios. At some point, the choice seems to be between having one of two things, if not both; A passport or a gun. I’m rather old and creaky in the joints to think seriously about running (actually, my left knee says “no” to running) around as a soldier. In the darkest vision, the gun option is really about exacting a price when they come to get me.

    The only way out that I can see is that the clear enemies of democracy must be prosecuted and convicted, including their financial backers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      Obviously, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I’m not sure what to think as the way out. When the experts, the people who’ve studied the countries and regions that have devolved into civil war, say that few democracies have ever come back from being this polarized, I’m inclined to think that there is no way back. The exception seems to be when the political leadership of the authoritarians get cold feet and pulls back. When the leadership begins to moderate their rhetoric, then the rank and vile begin to subside. I read somewhere in my research for all of this of a study in which the respondents were given a quote by Trump that disavowed violence. Those people as compared to the ones who weren’t shown the quote, were less likely to endorse violence as a political strategy.

      The problem is that the GQP has unleashed the narcissistic grifter class upon MAGA Nation and everyone from the shock jocks on conservative talk radio to the lesser known conservative media outlets to the Fox evening hosts to the Congressional backbenchers to the governors have a vested interested in maintaining the violent incendiary rhetoric.

      DeathSantis and Abbott might could be willing to give up their MAGA rhetoric, but only if it was clear to them that the base wouldn’t reject them for it. Will Maddog Greene or Loaded Boebert or Screwy Gohmert or Ronanon Johnson be willing to ever give up theirs?

      Our only real hope is for the insurrectionist movement to fracture. Since Trump has promoted getting vaccinated, there is some indication that the movement is fracturing and casting about for something or someone.

      The real test is going to be whether or not GQP legislatures will seat and recognize Democratic winners, especially if it means the Dems retain control of the Senate. If they don’t, and we don’t respond with massive peaceful protests in the streets across the country, then I think we’ve lost.


      Liked by 2 people

      • State legislatures actually rejecting valid election results and refusing to seat Dem winners would/will be the test. I suspect that a lot of the radicalized GOP believe that “Libs” can’t or won’t fight, peacefully or otherwise. They think they can just “own the Libs” and do whatever. That is a very dangerous thing to believe about any adversary. They almost certainly think the same about POC.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          The other test will be how SCOTUS will decide the resulting court cases. They’ve already indicated that a majority think that the states should organize their own elections. Will they continue that line of reasoning through these cases?


          Liked by 1 person

          • It might take a case from some Blue state legislating in the opposite direction, such as the California proposal to use the Texas abortion method of enforcement for gun control. SCOTUS tends to think a bit harder when they encounter a sword that cuts both ways.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hope it is that easy, but I’ve been puzzling through the end of the year for a post. GQP legislatures refuse to count votes from predominantly Dem precincts because of “problems” with the election there. Declare the GQP candidate the winner. Courts may or may not side with the Dems in the impending suit, but it gets appealed to SCOTUS who declares elections the province of the states and lets the election outcome stand. By now we’re in July 2023.

              What happens then?


              Liked by 1 person

              • That is why it is important that those legislative changes need to be challenged and litigated ASAP. It is probably a worst case scenario to have the outcomes of an election that determines national and state legislative majorities hanging in litigious limbo past the start of new sessions.

                Liked by 1 person

                • The test case for the politicization of SCOTUS is the Trump’s challenging the investigative committee’s subpoenas of his WH records. The law is clear and settled. The subpoenas have to be enforced, but the longer SCOTUS dithers with the case the better it is for Trump. If they turn it around quickly, they aren’t politicized as much as we fear yet. If they delay, then they are.


                  Liked by 1 person

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