What we fail to notice is there is a big old Pink Elephant staring straight at us: on one end of a spectrum is despotism and on the other is collapse. The one thing that won’t happen is the peaceful transfer of power.
A lot of Twitter liberals keep missing this. They keep musing about the strange dynamics of the 2020 race, totally missing the obvious.
Revolutions have a dynamic all their own. It seems to me that there’s a big old pink elephant staring us straight in the face and we refuse to acknowledge its existence: something is deeply wrong on an existential level with the American Ancient Regime.
This rot pops out every once in a while in a very conspicuous manner. The most recent instance of this is the absolute craven need on the part of Republicans to name Amy Coney Barrett to SCOTUS no matter what. The logic on the part of Republicans is so disconnected from any form of adherence to liberal democratic norms — or common sense — that is makes you sit back and think about the whole edifice.
Republicans aren’t shy to make it clear that they’re gunning for two politically popular aspects of modern American life: Roe V. Wade and the ACA. Both of these poll well above 50% and yet Republicans are lulzing this and licking their chops at the idea of doing away with them altogether.
This is not something that would happen in a functioning liberal democracy. Doing away with both of them would not happen in a vacuum and there would be major political consequences. In fact, I would go so far as to say Republicans are setting themselves up, at least in the case of Roe, for something akin to a reproductive rights Dred Scott Decision.
But there’s a chance the whole country might implode before that even can happen. It makes you wonder what that implosion might look like on a practical level. I would suggest you keep an eye on New York City. Because of its Deep Blue nature, should the absolute worst happen — some sort of implosion — New York City seems like the place where some sort of radical event might happen.
Something like The Taking of Trump Tower. Or maybe the gutting of Fox News headquarters in the city. That could set off a cascading series of events in which the populace rises up and sizes control of municipal government and some sort of revolutionary commune-like governance arises.
This sounds pretty bonkers. But if take a step back from the United States and stop looking as what you think it is and, instead, what it really is, it’s at least possible that this otherwise fantastical thing might happen. Once House Trump loses the Mandate of Heaven in Blue States, some pretty fucking nuts things might happen very, very quickly.
One thing I struggle to figure out is if you start at the end — the United States imploding — and work back, how, exactly, would Blue States defend themselves from Mad King Trump if he really wanted to take “total control” as suggested by his best bud Roger Stone. A lot would depend on what happened to the US Military.
If even that venerable institution wasn’t able to stay together, then, I guess, Blue States would have to organize their own New Model Army (or whatever) under the guise of the governors of individual Blue States. The legal justification for such a call up of forces eludes me. But if you have Red States breathing down your neck, I guess you could pull something out of your butt.
And, remember, the key thing to think about is any type of civil war or revolution would only happen if the natural inclination of the Fourth Estate to calm everyone down was unsuccessful. So, as such, it’s very possible that despite all my wargaming, we don’t implode at all, we just slip into an autocratic managed democracy with our eyes wide open. Barr will give Trump a thin veneer of legitimacy and, as such, he will be able to quickly consolidate power.
Trump’s such a fucking self-own artist, however, that even if he and Barr win the election through the “soft power” of media narrative management, he could single-handedly bring the country to its knees (and incite a revolution) from sheer incompetence.
A fish rots from its head, afterall.
I’m not advocating any of this. But New York City is a very interesting political situation. If my worst nightmare happened, NYC would likely be the first surreal flashpoint in the even more surreal collapse of the most powerful, most stable nation on earth.
Before I begin, let’s put things in context. I’m a big old nobody in the rural portion of a flyover state. Absolutely nobody gives me any mind for any reason. I could literally vanish off the face of the earth and it would take a few days for anyone to notice. And, in general, I’m a pretty copacetic, easy going guy. And I’m definitely NOT a “loner who keeps to himself.”
I’m actually quite extroverted and honest, to a fault. Generally, if I’m thinking about it, you’ll hear about it if you’re paying attention to me.
I say all that to make it clear that this is nothing more than a thought experiment. It’s not like this is meant to be some sort of liberal-progressive Turner Diaries. It’s just interesting to look at the State of the Union with a crucial eye. That’s it. That’s all that’s going on. If this was 10 years ago and I was living in NYC, this the type of thing that might pop up on the old Gawker blog.
The Case America’s Ancien Regime is, at least on the surface, rock solid. It’s been around for about 240 years. The very idea that it might rather suddenly grow extremely unstable to the point of collapse is not something that the average person even contemplates as possible.
And, yet, something is existentially wrong with the American Ancien Regime. There is now an enormous disconnect between people and the government. Because they’re the most vocal, we often see this disconnect through the lens of the Far Right. But the argument can be made that, if anything, the rise of Trump gives us an indication that we’ve reached the stage where the rot inside the ostensibly stable American Ancien Regime has grown so severe that something truly astonishing might happen far, far sooner than anyone could possibly imagine.
But what, exactly is wrong with the current American system? I would suggest that a number of major macro trends are all coming to a head at the same time. The United States is no longer a liberal democracy that represents the people, it is a plutocracy that is one election away from turning into something akin to an autocratic semi-monarchal managed democracy. In fact, I would suggest that the dead hand of history has made its decision.
Trump’s “Spaghetti Strategy” for “winning” the 2020 election is going to work. It’s all over but the shouting. We’re not the United States anymore, we’re nothing more than Trumplandia. My fidelity is to the United States, not Trumplandia, and, as such, at least on an abstract thought-experiment basis, I am prepared to mull how to, uhhh, make America great again, if you will.
When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It So, we have before us two options — let Trumplandia consolidate or we renew the American Covenant. Let me be clear — this is meant to be a very abstract text. I’m not advocating anything. I’m simply saying — should the moment arise when we’re actually given the opportunity to do something about Trumplandia we can’t be afraid. We have to stand and fight.
That opportunity may never come. We may slip rather quietly into Trumplandia and not look back for decades. This is a very real possibility.
But while Trumplandia probably started the moment Trump was aquitted, the case could be made that American self-perception hasn’t realize it yet. And, as such, there is a window of opportunity. Again, not advocating anything. This is more about pointing out opportunities than it is telling anyone to do anything about it.
In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that for those “opportunity” to arise, it wouldn’t even be in the hands of the governed — it would happen because of a historic miscalculation on the part of Trump and Barr. And, honestly, it might not even be an actual miscalculation.
They know that relative to all the metrics they have at their disposal that should Trump not win outright on Election Night that everything after the election is simple media narrative management. They got away with it with the Mueller Report, they have every reason to believe they can do it again with the 2020 Election.
And, at this point, there’s absolutely no reason not to think they aren’t right.
Trump won in the Senate. He’s going to “win” the 2020 election and, later, he’s going to win with the Constitutional Convention he inevitably demands.
So, really, all I got is Trump’s a massive self-own artist. A fish rots from its head, as they say. Therefore it is, at least possible that Trump is going to screw up on such a massive level at some point between November and January that the country implodes. (Not something I want. Just a possibility.)
The Goals So what if my worst nightmare happens and the United States implodes? Then what? Well, the key thing to remember is should the American Ancien Regime collapse, the Fourth Estate is probably going with it. The American media has been so complicit, timid and oblivious to the rise of Trumplandia that I honestly don’t see how it, as an institution, would survive any sort of theoretical “Second American Revolution.”
As an aside, I think it really would be a revolution instead of civil war. I say this because a lot of Twitter liberals are so full of themselves that they seem to think some sort of utopia (with Canada?) will happen if only Blue States can leave the Union. The issue is, outside of some chunks of California, I just don’t see actual secession taking hold in most Blue States. This would be a revolution against the moronic tyranny of one man — Donald J. Trump. As such, it makes a lot more sense on a number of strategic levels to stay and fight rather than attempt to leave the Union altogether. All of this is extremely difficult for me to pace out because of how speculative it is. So, it’s very possible I might get a lot of things wrong.
One thing I spend a lot of time thinking about is how, exactly, this so-called “Second American Revolution” might begin. There are a number of scenarios. But one might be that Trump simply screws up. He does something so outrageous that even conservative-but-not-MAGA people get woke. If that happened, then Trumplandia will be stillborn.
The goals of any Second American Revolution would likely be to “renew the vows,” shall we say, of the American Covenant. There are a lot — a lot — of popular ideas and policies that have not been implemented because of the extreme corruption, and lack of representation found with American Ancien Regime.
I might suggest codifying some sort of protection for reproductive rights in a new Constitution. A re-imagined Senate would also be a goal for any Renewed American Covenant. And, some sort of addressing of systemic racism in the United States as well.
For my part, if I had any say in the matter — which I obviously never will — I would codify the nullification of Trumplandia with extreme legal prejudice. Everything Trump did while in office would be vacated. Just thinking about that makes me feel smile.
This is just a rough back-of-the-envelope sketch of what the aims of any Second American Revolution might be.
Like I keep saying, I fear I’m being both “delusional and stupid” to even broach the subject. Trumplandia is here and we’re just going to have to get used to it.
Even though it is extremely painful and difficult for me to do so, I’m going to have to accept that the United States is going to slip in a rather prosaic fashion into autocracy.
I may continue to write a lot about that process for no other reason than it makes me feel better, but I’ve finally — finally — achieved acceptance. There’s just no reason to believe the thing we need — the average American not on Twitter to be willing to risk their “lives and sacred honor” in the real world will pull through when we need them.
Something pretty spectacular that I can’t predict would have to happen for me to change that assessment. It didn’t happen with impeachment. So I feel comfortable to assume it won’t happen with the very fate, the very existence of the Republic, either.
As such, I’m going to throw myself back into the novel. It’s a real struggle not to doomscroll Twitter all day, but I have to. By every available metric, when I am in a position to try to sell this novel at some point in early-to-mid 2021, we’re going to be an autocracy and, as such, a lot of angry liberals will be interested in reading the type of novel I’m currently working on.
It continue to elude me what, exactly, the agenda is of the Far Right paramilitary groups that have begun to mence the United States population. What, exactly, are they trying to achieve? Trump loves him some Far Right support, so their efforts at intimidation seem rather redundant since they’re getting everything they want politically through Trump himself.
But here we are.
While a lot of people — like me — who use Twitter too much are freaking out about our obvious decent into autocratic managed democracy once Trump and Barr steal the 2020 election (probably through controlling the media narrative), the average American has been extremely complacent about all of this.
As such, I have no reason to believe they won’t continue to be so, no matter what happens over the course of the next few months. The political opposition to Trump — be it in Congress or the media — is extremely weak and timid. And they only do anything when they absolutely feel they have some sort of support for their actions — in other words, they don’t really show a lot of leadership.
So, the entire fate of the Republic (or what’s left of it) is hinging on Trump making some sort of historic miscalculation, some sort of self-own that I simply can’t predict. I simply have no way to predict what it might be or if it will even happen at all.
It seems safe to assume that even if there were mass protests as Trump began his final consolidation of power in the lead up being sworn in again, that the average American would be more concerned with any violence that might happen and Trump’s “law and order” reaction to it. The average center-Right-but-not-MAGA person, the support of whom would be crucial for any sort of effective mass response to Trump’s tyranny, simply won’t be there when we need them.
So, again, I have to assume that Trump is going to get his wish. In the end, he “won’t lose” as is the case with all autocrats and gradually between 2021 and, say, the fall of 2022, the final throttling of American liberty will occur. People will get snatched off the street and pushed out of windows on a regular basis. Major Democrat leaders will mysteriously be indicted or, worse yet, poisoned.
In other words, barring something I can’t predict, we aren’t even going to put up a fight.
These are times that try men’s souls, as Thomas Paine would say.
The dead hand of history is well on its way to “sweeping aside the last vestiges of the Republic” as they might say in Star Wars. It’s all because risking things that are important to you in the real world — especially if you’re a member of the existing establishment — isn’t exactly something you feel obliged to do.
As such, definitely seems to me that it’s a foregone conclusion that the United States will be an autocratic managed democracy by the time Trump is sworn in for a second (stolen) term.
I say this because of Trump’s “Spaghetti strategy” for winning re-election — he’s simply going to throw everything he’s got at the wall and see what sticks. So if it’s not fucking with the postal service, it’s fucking with the actual selection of Electors. If it’s not that, then it’s the bullshit Durham Investigation. And, after about a half dozen other things, he’s assuming that the Russians will — as part of a quid pro quo for removing 1/3 of our troops from German — hack directly into our election systems.
So, in a sense, I’ve reached acceptance — there may be moments in the next few months when we think somehow we’re going to escape living in an autocratic state, but in the end, mysteriously, Trump will still be in office.
Autocrats, as they say, never lose.
As I’ve said many times — really, the only person who can change both our fate and that of Trump is, well, Trump. He has the entire edifice of the Republican Party at his disposal. So unless Trump self-owns in a pretty massive way, we’re going to collectively buckle and fall to our knees before Mad King Trump.
Something pretty spectacular would have to change for this not to happen. Something I can’t predict. And I just don’t see it happening.
I keep vacillating wildly between having hope that we might all get woke in time to fix this problem and acceptance that in the end not even Trump’s tendency to self-own would fix the problem.
“…Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness” The Declaration of Independence
by Shelt Garner @sheltgarner
For about five years now, the laws of politics have been suspended. Trump has experienced little or no accountability for his autocratic inclinations. And, in a sense, what we face now was always going to happen — the only thing standing in the way of his dream of being an American Putin is the 2020 Election.
Once he gets past that obstacle, he will finally achieve wealth and power beyond his wildest imagination.
And, really, if we see Trump as sort of an inverse of Gorbachev, then even if there was some sort of “counter-coup” on the part of Nancy Pelosi, Trump still wins. Or, put another way, the dead hand of history is now so powerful that some truly astonishing would have to happen for America’s slip into autocracy being rather prosaic.
So, in a sense, I think we need to start thinking about either leaving the country (if you can) or begin making arrangements for how to placate Big Brother win the time comes. I honestly think that’s our fate. We just don’t have it in us to do what is necessary to push back against the rush towards autocracy we find ourselves in on a macro level.
But, for no other reason than to make myself feel better, let’s imagine a scenario where Trump’s natural inclination to self-own gets in the way of his final consolidation of power. The only way I could possibly see this happening is if Trump and Barr’s attempt to secure the presidency through owning the media narrative somehow falls apart.
Something no one — especially me — can’t predict happens that suddenly changes the state of play on the ground.
A key issue is while Barr is The Brain to Trump’s Pinky, Trump is still fucking screw up. If things got tricky in an American obviously near revolution, I just don’t see Trump handling that situation very well. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman can sell her soul for access all she wants — Trump is not a political genius.
Donald J. Trump, 45 President of the United States. He is nothing more than a deranged version of Chauncey Gardner from Being There. That’s all he ever has been — he’s just a vessel, an avatar for some pretty fucked up existential problems in the American political system.
Before I go any further, let’s be clear — in my mind, all my running scenarios about how we might manage to have some sort of “Renewed American Covenant” is nothing more than me having way too much mental energy and maybe nerves about living in an autocracy. Trump was never going to get convicted in the Senate and as of right now, it seems that Trump is never leaving office for any reason, even if it means burning it to the ground. So, this is a serious flight of fancy. It’s meaningless. But it is fun, I guess, to daydream.
So, for Trump to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory, he would have to ring the Liberty Bell, if you will, in the hearts of the average American. He would have to do something — or be personally blamed for something — that went against the American sense of what it means to be, well, American.
That I have to essentially bet that something I can’t predict is how the nation I love is saved is not really all that great a situation. And, even then, I’m working on the assumption that that would just be the BEGINING of something that might lead to some sort of national renewal. And to get that Renewed American Covenant we would have to go through an unprecedented tragedy that I really, really don’t want it to happen.
This is just me trying to console myself by turning the abstract fear of what might happen into a more manageable concrete scenario I can roll around in my mind.
Or, put another way, I love to run scenarios and this just happens to be one that I can use to figure out how to get America back on track (if only after a significant shake up.)
But I guess it is possible that at some point between Election Night and Trump’s final consolidation of power in January, he screws up. Whatever he does is so bad that a lot of conservative-but-not-MAGA people abandon him. So much so that there is something of an Apocalyptic Rock Fight between MAGA-Qanon and everyone else.
So that would be the setup for a Second American Revolution. Trump, through Barr, gets a thin veneer of legality to his second term and yet somehow he screws the plan up and there’s some sort of “revolt” (probably starting somewhere like New York City).
He tries to put it down using the Insurrection Act, Something Bad happens as a result and finally, finally, FINALLY a few conservative-but-not-MAGA people begin to at least tacitly accept some sort of organize resistance-in-real-life-where-you-might-get-hurt-or-lose-your-well-paying-job happens.
This is all very serious, folks. This is not a video game. This is not an angry Twitter thread.
The more I think about it, if you want to get all apocalyptic about it, it’s not a Second American Civil War we should be worried about it’s a Second American Revolution.
The reason why I say this is we’re looking at the existential threat facing the United States all wrong. While, yes, there are two sides to the conflict brewing within the United States, the case could be made that once we break the seal on this matter, no institution will be spared.
So, in that sense, it would be a lot more like a revolution than a civil war. The American Civil War actually strengthened a number of existing institutions in the United States after it was all done with. If, say, Trump attempts to take “total control” as Roger Stone would suggest he do, then any domestic insurrection would likely leave no existing institution untouched.
In fact, the United States may be completely re-magined if such a rebellion against Mad King Trump’s Trumplandia succeeded. A lot of bent up political reforms would explode out into the open rather radically in a very short amount of time and, as such, when all was said and done, future historians would definitely mark the looming conflict a “revolution” and not a “civil war.”
One reason why we think we would have a “civil war” instead of a “revolution” is we are, in our minds, fighting the last major domestic war — the American Civil War. But there was a American Revolution before that
Before we all get too hysterical about any of this, there are some caveats. We could still simply slip into autocracy with our eyes wide open and in a rather peaceful manner. Instead of any great historical drama, it would be a rather prosaic slip into a very American autocracy in the sense that Trump keeps doing what he’s already doing for a few years before the final boom drops. That would give people time to slowly grow accustomed to the change in the American experience and so it all turns into a lulz.
Only when, say, Q in a few years orders his followers to empty the cities and we have American Killing fields will anyone get too upset.
But, we are talking about a huge fucking moron named Donald Trump. He’s a massive self-own artist and, as such, out of sheer criminal incompetence he stirs up the volk in a way no one expects. Some pretty surreal political events might happen in quick success and before we know it, some sort of New Model Army has been established and not even the U.S. Military survives the implosion of the country.
As such, it’s at least possible that Trump without even really thinking about it pushes the country not into civil war, but revolution. Things grow far more radical for both sides and it’s not about states wanting to leave the Union or not, it’s about are we Trumplandia or are we America? Are we an American Union and, as such, take such a massive crisis as an opportunity to renew or covenant, or are we nothing more than a reflection of Trump’s ego? The stakes , as such, grow far more serious on a number of levels.
I will point out that usually it’s a war that leads to major technological innovations, so it’s possible to imagine a scenario where a lot of technology that’s kind of there-but-not-being-used like AI, MX, robotics and automatic comes roaring to the forefront of society because they’re used for military reasons in a desperate pitched battle for control over the geographic area currently known as the United States of America.
All of this is extremely fantastical. I struggle to even comprehend how an otherwise stable nation like the United States could find itself in a position where civil war — or revolution — is actually a near future possibility. It just makes no sense.
I’m not advocating any of this. I’m just making an observation about when you should start making serious contingency plans about what you are going to do should the country actually fucking implode.
First of all, there are a lot — a lot — of conditions I simply can’t game out. I have no idea if the average American can overcome their general political apathy to take matters into their own hands if it becomes absolutely clear that House Trump is, in fact, going to take “total control” as Roger Stones suggest they do.
It’s very easy to assume some sort of muddle punt of Trump’s plans that leave him in power, but in such a way that we continue to gradually drift towards a Russian-style managed democracy rather peacefully. The reason why I say this is, the harder it is for Trump to stay in power, the more radical he is likely to grow.
As such, if it really gets all that brazen post-election, there’s one place I could see serving as the fire shot of any sort of civil war or revolution — Trump Tower in NYC. I say this because of what it is — Trump’s Rosebud. What better way to get the point across than for an angry mob of New Yorkers to storm Trump Tower and gut it — maybe setting it on fire. This would not be a value free event — if things had gotten that bad by that point, then, well, grab your bugout bag and head for safety.
Given how completely out of character such behavior would be for Americans, I would suggest that any “Taking of Trump Tower” might be looked upon in hindsight as something akin to the Storming of The Bastille. Nothing good would come of it in the short term because it’s just the type of thing that would cause a rapid consolidation of Blue and Red States in the sense that massive number of political refugees might begin to go from one side to the other before the country finally imploded.
One thing I continue to struggle with is how any of this is possible. How is it that an otherwise stable nation like the United States may very well, fucking implode because of one shitty president. What the fuck is wrong with us? What am I missing?
Anyway, I’m not advocating this. Please don’t do this. Peaceful protests are very powerful with enough numbers. I hate violence. I’m a man of peace. A man of ideas. But I’m also not brain dead.