America’s Third Civil War is unfolding in unexpected ways. Previously I had blogged that the 2020 Presidential election would be our Battle of Gettysburg (He Really Could Stand in the Middle of 5th Avenue, Shoot Somebody, and Not Lose Voters 4/1/20) . It would be the moment when the conflict between the two sides of the Culture Wars burst forth with some violence over which side had triumphed in the showdown at high November. In many ways, such a showdown has occurred but without the violence…yet.
In the more than one month since Joe Biden won, although the results were not immediately known, the fighting has transpired primarily in the court room. In these clashes, the hero of 9/11 has made a dripping fool of himself time and time again without having any awareness of his predicament… except that he knows enough that he will need a pardon.
One surprising absence from the war has been the current Attorney General. After months and years of doing the biding of the criminal in-chief, when the final showdown came he was missing in action. In fact, he gave aid to the patriots who were defending the country from the assault on democracy by denying that the election was rigged or that fraud had occurred.
With these thoughts in mind, I am taking a trip down memory lane to one year ago: the December 2019 issue of The Atlantic with the cover title “How to top a Civil War.” Since the war is not yet over and 2021 promises to be even worse as the new President struggles to assert himself as THE President of the United States, it is worth taking a look back on what was written. In a preview to the next blog, I note the article in this time capsule on Texas and secession could just have easily been written in December 2020 as December 2019. I am waiting to see what happens before writing about it.
A NATION COMING APART BY JEFFREY GOLDBERG
Goldberg tactfully opens his “Editor’s Note” with:
The 45th president of the United States of America is uniquely unfit for the office and poses a multifaceted threat to our country’s democratic institutions.
Truer words were never written, but I suspect they understate the problem. I doubt that Goldberg anticipated a frontal assault on the democratic process including an attempted coup to steal the election with the support of the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and 125 accomplices. To imagine an attempted coup by this particular President requires no stretch of the imagination. To see how widespread the support was and is would have been unimaginable. These 126 traitors are from the present House of Representatives. It is quite likely that in the new House where the Democrats will have only the slimmest of margins, that the number of representatives who support the President in-exile will be even greater. There is no margin of error.
Goldberg went on to write:
The structural failures in our democratic system that allowed a grifter into the White House in the first place⸺this might be our greatest challenge.
I strongly doubt that Goldberg anticipated that the con artist only needed to ask for money to receive over $200 million from his Trumpican base. That is an astonishing achievement in the history of scam annals. He has perfected the ability to raise enormous sums of money in small amounts without having to fleece few bigtime marks.
Finally, Goldberg announced as the editor, the purpose for the special issue.
Out of our conversations, and others like it, emerged the idea for the special issue you are now reading, what we have called “How to Stop a Civil War.” … (W)e worry that the ties that bind us are fraying at alarming speed⸺we are becoming contemptuous of each other in ways that are both dire and possibly irreversible.
If these words reflect Goldberg’s assessment of the situation in December 2019, then one can only imagine what he must think in December 2020. For now the coup to steal the election temporarily has been stopped by the Supreme Court. One should expect the final stand where the last ditch effort to overturn the election will be undertaken will be when the new House convenes to ratify the vote of the Electoral College. He still thinks he can overturn the election and has roughly 126 people who will help him. The fat lady still hasn’t sung yet.
“WHEN TRUMP GOES” BY DAVID FRUM
The opening article in the war issue appropriately enough was called “Dispatches.” It was listed as the “Opening Argument.” The question raised was “Somehow, sometime, he will leave office. Will our politics get better or worse?”
Frum opened his argument with the well-known examples of the current occupant’s preference to remain in office beyond the two-term limit. By now you would have to be dumb beyond belief not to realize that is his desire. I am not suggesting he has a plan to do it, only that he would like to. Plan B I would guess is to run in 2024 and then to be succeeded by a child, probably Ivanka as the first female president. It would follow her stint as Senator from Florida beginning in 2022 where she is now relocating. For all we know, she will be the preferred Trump in 2024. Whether all that happens or not remains to be seen. What is clear is that the Trumps will be with us for years to come with a strong base in the House that will do whatever he wants.
In his Argument, Frum presents two scenarios: a narrow Democratic victory or a big Democratic victory. We know now that the latter did not occur. It did not occur in the House. It did not occur in the Senate even if they win the two runoff elections. It did not occur at the state level. Even though Joe Biden won with the same landslide Electoral College vote as in 2016 only with the parties reversed and by over 7 million votes, the Democrats’ hopes were not fulfilled.
Frum’s analysis in 2019 misses two key considerations, one of which he could not have known about.
First, the coronavirus changed all political calculations. Without the coronavirus it is quite possible there would have been another election where the Democrats won the popular vote but lost the election. Without the coronavirus there really could have been a second term. Even with the virus, what would have happened if the vaccine had been discovered sooner? What would have happened if the coronavirus had happened a year earlier? We will never know the answer to these different scenarios, but there is one chilling fact that will haunt historians for years to come:
Did 200,000 Americans have to die in 2020 for him to be defeated that same year?
Try and imagine what it would be like to participate in that debate. Are those deaths the price America had to pay to make him a one-term president?
Second, Joe Biden probably is the only Democratic candidate who could have won. In a previous blog, I asked the question if Elizabeth Warren could have won. We will never know but the odds are she easily might have lost despite the coronavirus. Even more so for the other potential Democratic candidates.
Frum couldn’t possibly have known any of this when he wrote his Dispatch from the battlefield last December. In hindsight we can see how the stars had to be aligned to produce the Democratic presidential victory in 2020 and there is no guarantee that they will be so aligned in 2024.
So what will happen now?
As in America’s Second Civil War, we will have two Presidents: one in Washington and one in the South. The parallel is not the same. This time the President in the south commands no armies and the only revenue he raises will be for himself. During the Second Civil War, the Confederates removed themselves from the political process. They did not remain in Congress or vote in the 1864 elections. This time Trump’s traitors will remain in Congress without suffering any punitive actions for their attempted coup to steal the election. Their loyalty will be to the rightful President in Florida and not to the Constitution or the illegitimate President in Washington.
The ongoing war then is more likely to resemble World War I than the Second Civil War but without the violence. By that I mean, everything in Congress will be trench warfare with neither side budging. Trumpicans will not accept Joe Biden as the President of their country. They will call upon their governors to do the same … unless the state needs federal aid due to a disaster. Care to guess to whom the Governor of South Dakota will pledge her loyalty?
America’s Third Civil War is far from over. It will continue as long as the two houses live together in one political entity. Texas has a solution for that.