by Shelt Garner
I’ve spent so much time brooding on the possibility of civil war or some sort of grand, brazen theft of the 2024 presidential election, that I totally missed the most obvious endgame.
It may be that in the end, Trump, MAGA and autocracy are so popular that they win fair and square. The likelihood that we will slip peacefully into autocracy when Republicans win the 2024 election with a minimal amount of shenanigans increases greatly if Trump decides not to run, but even with him as the GOP candidate this is a very real possibility.
Given the recent results in Virginia, it seems to me very possible that both sides will gird their loins for an epic political battle and…it just doesn’t materialize. Trump (or DeSantis, etc) cruise into an easy, traditional political victory and that will be that. If that did happen, then our final transition into autocracy really would be so subtle that only the most hysterical amongst us — like me — would even get mad.
Here are some reasons why we won’t have a civil war:
- It’s not in our nature to have a civil war.
For all the hateful rhetoric on the part of the MAGA New Right, it’s possible that in the end, they manage to pull off a peaceful transition to autocracy. In fact, at first, at least, the chance from democracy to autocracy could be so subtle that only a few hysterical people like me even notice. For the average person, it will just be a replay of 2000, only worse: it will simply be accepted that the only way a Democrat can become POTUS is if that party also control Congress. People will say “the system worked” and move on.
- Republicans have gamed the system.
It could be that by 2024 – 2025 the actual administration of elections will be so corrupt that it will be a fact of life that people shrug and take for granted. It will be the first step towards Americans becoming Russians in that they will no longer feel as though the government expresses the will of the people. And that will be that.
- Not Trump 2024
Another reason why we could slip peacefully into autocracy is it’s not Trump who is the Republican nominee, but someone other than Trump. If this is the case, when I honestly don’t see why we would have a civil war. Autocracy is so popular within the United States –and the opposition to it is so weak — that our transition to an actual autocracy will in the end be so easy to pull off that there will be no need to resort to violence. Blue States will get angry, but, lulz, they always get angry, right Mr. Eastman?
- Autocracy is very popular in the United States
A sizable portion of the United States’ electorate wants an autocracy. They want one so bad that they seem like a cult to people who aren’t all that thrilled at the prospect of one. So, it’s possible that they will wrap up the transition into autocracy without any violence at all. By the time people realize what they’ve lost, it will be way, way too late. The United States will be nothing more than a Russia clone with an identical political dynamic. There will be a MAGA-themed Constitutional Convention to “pass a balanced budget amendment” and we’ll still have President DeSantis (or whomever) 30 years from now.
- Anti-MAGA forces are just too weak willed.
Again, it could be that when push comes to shove, the whole thing will be over before it even starts. There will be a lot of angry tweets on Twitter, but in the end, because Twitter liberals aren’t willing to risk anything in the real world, we slip peacefully into autocracy and that, as they say, will be that.
If Republicans won fair and square, without having to nullify a Democratic win, then at first the autocracy would likely be very “lite touch.” It would only be gradually that Republicans began to follow the traditional autocratic path that would slowly turn the United States, on a political basis, into a Russia clone. If Trump ran and won fair and square, then what happened next would greatly depend on who his veep was.
Being Trump’s successor is kind of the be-all and end-all of Republican high stakes power politics at the moment because a lot of extremely ambitious people know that American democracy is dead and if they can only be in a position to be Trump’s successor, they will have access to unprecedented power and wealth.
There are a few caveats to this very real possibility. Here are some reasons why we will have a civil war.
- Republicans have come to glorify political violence
Something you see a lot these days within the bullshit echo chamber of the MAGA New Right is the belief that because “liberals won’t leave us alone” that they are being “driven” to extremism. There’s a lot of leading not-so-vague talk as to what all this would ultimately mean. But it’s clear that for a number of “thought leaders” within the MAGA New Right that they have accepted that at some point in the future, they’re going to have to resort to violence to get what they want.
- Republicans no longer believe in democracy
It is now clear that like any good fascists, Republicans no longer believe in democracy unless it’s for the specific purpose of gaining and keeping power. This view of the system they’re supposed to a part of leads them do extremely destabilizing things that help push the country to the brink.
- Trump 2024
Just Trump being the 2024 nominee would, in itself, be enough to cause a civil war at some point in late 2024 – early 2025. He just has a special knack for “owning the libs” in such a way that if he stole in 2024 election and said the “quiet part outloud” that Blue States would grow so enraged that it would be they, not Red States, that left the Union and caused a Second Civil War. But Ron DeSantis is polling exceptionally well at the moment, so either Trump politically shivs him at some point, or he co-ops him, making him his VP, opening the door to DeSantis becoming America’s Putin at some point down the road a little bit.
- Steve K Bannon.
Bannon and his toadies are actively working to destroy the framework that we use to administer free and fair elections. So, it’s very easy to imagine a situation where this gambit works in ways that Trump himself is too idiotic to pull off personally and it will be so egregious that, again, Blue States leave the Union and we have a Second American Civil War.
- Extreme negative polarization
We’re in for a bump four or so years, no matter what, because negative polarization, on a systemic level, has reached a critical mass. When one of your political parties is fascist and would rather crash the global economy instead of even appear to work for the good of the nation — you got a problem.
- A lack of shared values
As the big blow up on Twitter in the last 24 hours about a Stephen Colbert song and dance gag about getting vaccinated proves — we can’t even agree on what’s funny. A combination of this and negative polarization is leading to the United States being two nations, one Red, one Blue and when we get around to attempting to elect the next president, the system simply won’t be prepared for the passions it will stir up.
- A potentially historic miscalculation on the part of Republicans
It’s possible that, much like European powers in the lead up to WW1, when the time comes and Republicans have a choice between peacefully transitioning us into autocracy or fucking with us all so we want to take up arms, they will choose the latter not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s possible that by the 2024 — 2025 period, Republicans will see a civil war as their only choice to consolidate power, even if it’s clear that they could get everything they ever wanted within the system they so obviously loath.
One is, Republicans are notorious for self-owning and they could do everything in their power to steal an election that they could otherwise win without doing so. That opens up a lot of instability and unpredictability. Also, there is a definite bloodthirsty element to the MAGA New Right. It’s definitely possible that Republicans could be well on their way to getting everything they want peacefully and then they blow it by somehow aggravating Blue States out of the Union specifically because they want an excuse to “own the libs” once and for all.
As such, it’s very possible that all of my hysterical predictions about a potential civil war will be all very silly in hindsight. For the first few years of our autocracy, things will only change on the edges. It won’t be until the inevitable Constitutional Convention that the average person will notice that things are beginning to change.
By that point, however, President DeSantis (or whomever) will be seen as a good enough president that most Americans will become Good Germans. Elections will still happen, but it will become clear soon enough that Republicans are now our ruling minority party and that will be that. Depending on quirks of whomever ends up being our American Putin, the media will or less be left alone because, lulz, their powerless, anyway.
But there will come a point when my darker fears will be realized and wealthy liberals will vote with their feet by leaving the country altogether.
At the moment, it definitely seems far from having any sort of civil war to settle the issue of which vision of America is the right one, Americans will peacefully give up their democratic birthright and most people won’t even realize it’s missing until it becomes personal on an individual basis.
Macro trends are not on America’s side. As I keep saying, 2024 is going to be it. It’s the year when either the United States turns into a Russian-style “managed democracy” or there’s a civil war. Now, this isn’t going to be a complete list of the 50 states, but I am going to highlight some of the states that may be more problematic should a Second American Civil War erupt.
The state is really two states and, as such, is probably going to be a major flashpoint in any Second Civil War. What’s likely to happen is Portland will buck any attempt at a putsch on the part of bonkers Right wing nutjobs in the rest of the state and, as such, either there’s a really blood struggle in the state or there are a massive amount of political refugees from the Portland area as the rest of the state sides with MAGA.
Again, this is really two states. There’s the NOVA-Richmond-Hampton Roads urban corridor and everything else. It’s very easy to imagine a situation — especially with Virginia’s historic ties to the first Civil War — where the state implodes as we grow closer and closer to a Second Civil War. Too many good old boys in the rural areas of Virginia might get wrapped up in the “Lost Cause” mythos and decide to seize places like Danville (the last capitol of the Confederacy) or Richmond (another Confederate capitol.) If nothing else, simply because of the larger population of the “Blue” parts of the state, there will be significant violence and political refugees as the Blues consolidate power.
I don’t know as much about this state, but it definitely seems as though once the pre-war process of coups and political consolation begins that there will be at least a coup attempt on the part of the Far Right. Again, don’t underestimate how once you actually start murdering people that the dynamics of things change significantly. It’s very possible that there would be a coup in the state, it would fail, and there would be significant political violence as the state’s Blue population fought back and put the state firmly on the Blue side.
Yet again, we have a situation where once politics fails us that the otherwise banal regional differences in a state tears it apart. New York City is far more progressive than the rest of New York State and, depending on how things work out, it’s possible that New York City could become a revolutionary hotbed to the point that is tears itself away from the rest of the state and proclaims itself a Free City. This almost happen during the first Civil War. If nothing else, there will be a serious jiggling of the relationship between NYC and the rest of the state to the point where it aligns itself in any Second Civil War with New Jersey and Connecticut in a way that update New York does not. Or, again, there could be significant political consolidation as Blues from all over the northeast flee to New York and the MAGA-friendly natives of the state flee elsewhere.
I really don’t know that much about this state other than a vague belief that the northern part of the state is far different than the southern part. It’s very easy to imagine significant consolation in the state one way or another as people flee to it as the rest of the country buckles. The state is big — if sparsely populated — and it’s strategic location near the Canadian border might be enough for it to be the home to large refugee camps.
Texas would be in an odd situation as the country fell into civil war because its long-term political trend is shifting Blue, but it’s part of the South and a lot of people consider themselves Southern and MAGA. So either it simply buckles into its own intra-civil war or the MAGA cocksucker fucktards push out all the Blues who flee to Blue States nearby. The end result would be a lot of pissed off former Texans who would be of great benefit to the Blue cause.
In a sense, the whole fate of the United States rests on what California does. If it simply bolts from the Union, then that significantly hobbles the Blue cause on the ground. California sitting on its hands and become its own nation in the event of a Second Civil War makes it far more likely that either Red states win or there is some sort of half-ass balkanization of the United States. But if California stays and fights, then they could provide not only the necessary economy and population for a Blue state victory — after many, many dead — but also something of a vision for what America would look like after we’re finished bombing ourselves into oblivion.
The Deep South
It’s very easy to imagine at the onset of a Second American Civil War most of the old Confederacy on a political level getting extremely excited and having a massive amount of momentum to either leave the Union outright or support the Republican controlled Congress’ attempt to brazenly steal the election. Then reality would sink in — all of the Southern states have significant African American populations and once politics is no longer a viable method of solving problems then the far more brutal dynamics of realpolitik would kick in. I just can’t imagine millions of African Americans lulzing a return to the Confederacy, no matter how badly the white political establishment of those states may want it. So, even though the South has a lot of people and a big economy, it would be, on a regional basis, too busy fighting a race war to really help the Red cause all that much. If things really grew as radical as I fear they will — probably because WMD are stolen and cities start to get vaporized — it’s the Deep South where you’re most likely to see some WW2 level atrocities as radicalized whites begin to murder blacks en mass.
As for the rest of the states, their ability to pick one side or the other is probably far easier and their biggest problem would be dealing with political refugees.