For some time now, I've been making the point to a few close friends and family members that the country is headed for a civil event (if not a war then at least a break up of states into independent countries.) For me, it's time to create an outpost outside the USA1. The outline of my thought process is as follows:
- Significantly large groups (tribes) of citizens describe their world view differences as existential. "The other tribe is trying to destroy the country." Politics has stopped focusing on how to best share in the project that is the USA to become a pure struggle for power. Us versus them.
- Self-sorting of the population has and is occurring as people relocate their homes2 to be near others in their tribe.
- Media, maybe most importantly social media, is exacerbating, not calming, these trends. Exaggerating and stoking outrage in the hunt for views and clicks that deliver income.
- Each tribe, now occupying their own land, feels that the other is not part of the "real" America. Why should they continue to be associated with them as fellow citizens? "I don't want to be part of their failing state."3
- The last election process was considered illegitimate by almost half the country's citizens. The citizenry no longer accepts the democratic process as being legitimate. Belief in the view that the election was "stolen" justifies any action, no matter how extreme, to restore the proper result. "Liberal democracy requires acceptance of adverse electoral results, a willingness to countenance the temporary rule of those with whom we disagree,” as Kagan writes in his essay. For a large part of the citizenry, we've lost liberal democracy.
- A presidential election is coming. In key states, since the last presidential vote in 2020, laws have been changed to enable state governments to over-rule the popular election results (ostensibly due to fraudulent voter activity.) This enables the electoral popular vote count loser to be selected by state government to receive the state's electoral votes.
- What happens when (more than) half the country gets a new president-elect that not only did not receive the most popular votes but is installed by way of key state governments over-ruling the vote of their own people? This is a coup d’etat. Would that justify the use of force?
On Sept 23, 2021 in the Washington Post Robert Kagan4 wrote an editorial Our Constitutional Crisis is Already Here, that mostly followed the above logic (doing so with far better writing than I can produce.) He warns about the potential for the use of armed force. The editorial begins with:
The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves.
On the one hand, I feel confirmation when a national figure agrees with my perspective on this issue. On the other, any comfort I had in believing that my viewpoint was limited to just my own confused and twisted mind is now gone.
For an alternative view on Kagan's editorial by Jack Shafer in Politico, read Why the Fear of Trump May Be Overblown.
1 I've been visiting other countries and reviewing residency requirements. COVID-19 slowed the process a bit for me but my search continues.↵
2 A book has been written on the subject The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop. Just one example of the outcome from this sort, per CNN from public data as of 28 Sept 2021, the 12 states with the highest COVID-19 case rate for every 100,000 people are all run by Republican governors. The 13 states with the highest hospitalization rate per 100,000 residents are all run by Republican governors. The 15 states with the highest percentage of deaths per 100,000 are all run by Republican governors. COVID-19 outcomes have become a reflection of the big sort.↵
3 While the states seceding to cause the US Civil War in 1860 comes to mind, also consider the 1993 break up of Czechoslovakia. As they did in Czechoslovakia, when both parties want separate countries the breakup can be a peaceful one. Czechoslovakia became the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia that we know today.↵
4 Per Wikipedia, Robert Kagan is an American neoconservative scholar and critic of U.S. foreign policy and a leading advocate of liberal interventionism. A co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kagan has been a foreign policy adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidates as well as Democratic administrations via the Foreign Affairs Policy Board. He writes a monthly column on world affairs for The Washington Post and is a contributing editor at The New Republic. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kagan left the Republican Party due to the party's nomination of Donald Trump and endorsed the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, for president.↵