So – Let’s Say We DO Have A Second American Civil War — Here’s What Might Happen

Fact: on the day he resigned the presidency because of Watergate, Richard Nixon still drew a 29% approval rating. Though it was Republicans who literally went to the White House and told Nixon it was over, a huge chunk of their party membership didn’t agree.

They wanted Nixon’s lawlessness to continue.

Another fact: more than a third of America (Nixon’s base plus a little more) have no interest in representative democracy and never have. They’ve never celebrated our great experiment in self government, they’ve despised it because they’ve always known that democracy would stamp an end date on white, Christian male rule. White, Christian men all by themselves can’t breed enough to keep up with America’s diversifying population. That’s why so many of them hole up in the woods or go full desert rat so their paranoia and racism can run wild.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her book How The South Won The Civil War, though the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox — and its army ceased to be — it still went on to win the Peace that followed the war by getting ahold of the narrative. A war fought specifically because of slavery became a war fought over “states’ rights”. Traitors became great generals fighting for a grand but lost cause. The antebellum world — repugnant because of its reliance upon slaves and slavery — became romanticized in our popular culture. In fact popular culture — books, movies — took up the mantle of “The Glorious South” and made the racism upholding it all acceptable.

That’s a pretty good result for the side that got crushed.

Lincoln’s successor — Andrew Johnson — began undermining Reconstruction as soon as it began. Had he not done that, our history might have been very different. We might have mitigated some of the hurt caused by slavery. Instead, we doubled down on institutional racism and, in very many ways, kept the Civil War going albeit deep in our national psyche. The ripple effects haunt us constantly.

As hard as Trump and the GOP want to make voting, it looks like the numbers will simply overwhelm them. Whereas no one was looking for Trump’s cheating in 2016, in this election, he’s made it a feature — so everyone’s looking at it. Never mind that it’s insane to equate a win via cheating with a legitimate win. Trump and the Republicans have managed to offend just about everyone who isn’t a white male Christian (or the women playing beta dog to them). The reason they need to curtail the vote is because the vote will be so massive — and so massively against them. It should be so massive that even flipping votes on voting machines won’t help: the difference will be too vast. Flipping vote tallies that far apart wouldn’t even pass a Republican’s smell test.

This isn’t about the Democrats winning, it’s about winning by a staggering margin. That’s why, despite the positive polling, no one can let up. It is a numbers game. And we may not know for certain on November 3 who won. We may not know officially for a week or more — because all those mail-in ballots must be counted. Trump and the Republicans will begin their Civil War right there and then.

Remember — Trump needs to be POTUS for the rest of his life. The second he stops being president? He’ll be indicted — at the very least by the SDNY where Trump remains the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Michael Cohen case. Now that we know that Rod Rosenstein prevented both the FBI and Team Mueller from investigating Trump’s relationship with Russia — there’ll be that too. There’ll be civil suits flying from everywhere at Trump. He’ll spend more on lawyers than some countries do on electricity.

Trump can’t and won’t accept defeat. Here in the real world, he will pay for his crimes. One way or another — especially once we’ve wrested control of the presidency, the Senate and the Department of Justice from corrupt Republican control — every last bit of Republican malfeasance and treason will be investigated, tried and punished.

But, let’s pretend for a moment that Trump and his Republican pals take over a big chunk of real estate — threatening a lengthy, violent conflict. In the end, the United States of America cedes the Trumpian States of America Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. As a kind of “house warming” gift, we put up Trump’s wall for him.

As our view of Trump and his corrupt pals disappears behind that wall, we’ll start a clock running — to see, over time, which version of America prospers and thrives and which doesn’t. Will the United States of America do better — with its belief in e pluribus unum? Or will The Trumpian States of America “Be Best” — proving that a cult-of-personality-worshipping population, their heads filled with magical thinking and white rage can operate like an actual country.

Personally, I give the TSA about six months before things begin falling apart. The brain drain they suffered at the experiment’s start has left them with fantasists & sycophants to solve all their problems. Trump having succumbed to one of his various physical ailments, the TSA is now broken up into fiefdoms run by Ivanka, Junior and even Barron. He and Tiffany have had to team up to avoid getting eaten by their siblings. Another fiefdom is run by Mitch McConnell and the remnants of the Republican Party.

Mitch lives in a castle. He doesn’t care what’s happening outside of it. Same goes for every other Republican muckety-muck. They cashed out. The country doesn’t make anything that anyone wants so the cash flow’s mostly negative (hey — they do have a little mineral wealth and Mount Rushmore driving their “tourism industry”!) The great natural wonders aren’t so great or natural anymore — since plundering them was considered de rigeur.

Life in the TSA is cheap and nasty. It’s mostly white people in-breeding more of that “white superiority that isn’t”. Religion has replaced science in the classroom. Parsimony has replaced every ounce of Christian charity. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone’s just another flavor of Alpo.

Meanwhile, across the border, life is hard still because it will take a while to undo the profound, systemic damage Trump caused. But, the damage made systemic change both necessary and easier. Ironically, conservative fear of socialism has created the very “socialized” America that scared them and in record time.

Health CARE is now a right of everyone in America. UBI is a fact of life as is either a fully-paid-for college education or whatever training program someone needs to fully prepare their skill sets. Our bottom line will have shifted from money to people.

That’s renewed the world’s view of America as the place where innovation happens. All those great minds are now turning to climate change and how to mitigate it. Slowly, we turn to face all our other problems too. Removing the racists from our population has definitely helped our racism problem — but everyone has the potential to be racist. It’s hard-wired into us (the potential). We still have to teach ourselves to combat it every single day.

The result? A dynamic country filled with hope and promise. An America way closer to living up to its ideals than ever before.

And then one day, there’s a knock at the door. It’s stragglers fleeing the TSA, looking for asylum.

Behind them, we see more stragglers — looking hungry, fearful and hopeless. The good news? Our strong, prosperous version of America can help them. And will.

When we get to the end of THAT Civil War — the one that ends with our banging economy and their whimpering — I hope we have the good sense to get our historians writing. This time, in addition to winning the war, let’s win the damned peace.

At least let’s make our movie version of what happened better than theirs. Not that it will be hard.

The Truth Is, America’s Never Actually Been Very Good At “Democracy”

As shocking as it is that we’ve come to this, it’s even more shocking that, to a third of the country, “this” makes them happy. They’re glad America has come to this.

Racists are never going to like Democracy because every election is a gamble — that is, if you let everybody vote. The whole point of voter suppression and gerrymandering is make the gamble almost negligible as a gamble. If less Democratic voters turn out because they 1) couldn’t register or 2) registered but couldn’t spend ten hours in line to vote, that’s as good as a vote against whatever the Democrats wanted. This is not a new game. And though it’s wrong to shame the victim — and the Democrats have always been the Republicans’ victim — the Democrats have known since Nixon (and before) how Republicans ticked. After a while, one has to stand up for oneself because no one else is going to.

On the day he resigned from office because of Watergate, Nixon’s approval rating sat around 29%. His guilt was so undeniable that a delegation of Republicans (including Barry Goldwater — the conservative’s conservative) went to Nixon to tell him he had to resign. That’s how bad it was then. The 30% is still there. They’ve filled out a bit but they’re still very much there.

So, a third of the country couldn’t care less if America sinks into authoritarianism. In fact, they’d celebrate if it happened. With a (theoretical) 70% majority, you’d think the rest of us would have long ago figured out how to keep the crazies in check. But half that 70% doesn’t care about politics (or didn’t). In America, we think 50% – 60% of the voters showing up at election time is success. Hopefully the days of disengagement are over. But, for now, all we can point at is our history.

Come election time, too many of us stay home. In 2016, 138 million of us voted. Unfortunately that was only 56% of eligible voters. That’s over 40% of American voters never showing up to meet their most basic, most important, most innately democratic responsibility as American citizens.

Source: Pew Research Center

Ben Franklin saw us coming. As he observed 240 years ago — Republic’s are wonderful things — if you can keep them. They don’t get kept by accident.

Keeping a republic alive and well is damned hard work. Of all Americans, the people who’ve worked hardest to keep our republic alive are African Americans. They should have bailed on us eons ago. But they understood how important liberty was because they didn’t have it. It wasn’t just a word to them or an abstraction. It was something they wanted above all else. Nothing fancy — just the equal treatment before the law that the Constitution theoretically guarantees.

We kinda screwed the pooch right at the beginning. “All men are created equal” and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. You can’t hold those two ideas in your head and not lose your mind. And look how hard we made it for women to vote. Where’s the “democratic” in that?

The truth is, we’ve always talked a better game about democracy than we’ve ever delivered. Good thing that’s fixable. First thing we need to do is shut up. That is, white men need to shut up. We need to step back from the controls and let others have a go at it. After they finish fixing the mess we made of it, who knows? America might finally live up to its own ideals.

If we followed the lead of African American women especially — they will have been the true saviors of American democracy — we might even get good at democracy eventually. That’s not guaranteed. But, if white men listen — if we let the genius of E Pluribus Unum (that’s what makes America exceptional — diversity, not white guys and their money) wash over us — we might could learn how to be better.

The Failure That Is “Both Sides Do It” Journalism

When we get to the “How the HELL did this happen?” phase — after the bad actors are all safely in prison — we’ll need to turn our focus on the American news media and the myriad ways they failed us and their own Constitutionally mandated obligation to be our final check on power. American journalism failed us — repeatedly and tragically.

It all starts with an unsupported insistence that “both sides do it”.

When a Donald Trump violates the Constitution (and the oath he took to uphold and protect it), he’s doing it for a political reason: to undermine the Constitution’s integrity so as to hold onto power. Political. Nakedly so.

When a Democrat responds to Trump violating the Constitution by saying, “Hey, look — the President is doing something he shouldn’t be doing!” that is NOT a political response regardless of the “D” next to the Democrat’s name. It’s an act of patriotism. It’s an act of law abiding citizens demanding Just like an assault victim who cries out for help while being attacked does not “become” their attacker (“both sides do it”) just because they pointed out that they were BEING attacked. The attack victim, like the Democrat (who’s electoral win was stolen — and with it the Will of the American People) has been wronged. And while, in reporting the story, it’s incumbent on the press to be fair and even-handed, “fair and even-handed” does not mean giving credence to bullshit.

Both Sides Do It journalism assumes — without any evidence — that “both sides have an argument”. Both sides may have a point of view and both sides may try to explain why they did something but, if we’re talking criminal behavior, one of those two points of view is going to want to obscure the truth for obvious reasons. When the climate debate first started (before putting climate deniers on TV became verboten), news panels frequently put climate scientists up against climate deniers in a 50-50 presentation.

Understand — just like words and grammer make a language, so do images and video editing. Since the advent of motion pictures, audiences have learned a new language — the visual language. One of the things a modern audience intuits without being told — an argument presented 50-50 visually must be an argument where both sides have equal validity.

That’s what putting a climate denier in the same-sized frame as a scientist does — it visually validates them and their bullshit. Unintentionally — but clearly and (to a modern audience) distinctly. But that’s not a problem to Both Sides Do It journalism since all that matters is that climate deniers have a point of view. And it’s not their job to “judge”. It’s their job to “present the facts”.

Ah, but what if YOU can’t discern what the “facts” are? Or, worse, what if you suck at passing what little discernment you have on to your audience? What if your inability to tell what’s real from what’s bullshit has you reporting nonsense as truth? What if that nonsense has to do with coronavirus? What if your inability to discern truth from bullshit (because journalism school taught you both sides do it) gets people killed?

There’s a voice I can’t get out of my head. It’s become, to me, the signature sound for how terrible the press has handled this. It’s MSNBC’s Alex Witt. Alex is a decent person — I’ve not a doubt. But she’s a piss-poor “journalist”. That’s mostly because she exemplified “Both Sides Do it” journalism. “But aren’t they just playing politics” is a quintessential Alex Witt question — asked not out of intellectual curiosity but out of abject intellectual laziness.

What does that even mean? Does Alex assume that both sides do things for entirely cynical reasons? Does she honestly think that both sides see power the same way and treat people the same way? Is this the world this “professional journalist” has observed for a good, long (for Alex) professional career? Of course not.

To a degree, I don’t blame Alex. She didn’t invent “Both Sides Do It”, she just does it well.

The truth is both sides wouldn’t handle our response to the coronavirus the same way. One side wants to ignore stone cold reality and “get America back to work” regardless of how many people die “to save the economy”. The other side believes in science and doesn’t want one person to die who doesn’t have to. Whole other way of thinking.

There’s nothing radical in these observations. Over the past three years, one side has consistently behaved one way while the other side consistently behaved the exact opposite. Both sides don’t “do it”, in fact, both sides “do their own thing”. That’s what American journalism should have been reporting all along.

Both sides don’t have a Watergate in their past and both sides will not have a Trump-Russia, a Trump-Saudi Arabia, a Trump-North Korea, a Trump-corruption and a Trump-Treason in their present and future. Both sides don’t obstruct justice as easily as they breathe and both sides do not suppress the other sides voters.

Both sides don’t hand proprietary polling data to the Russians (via Oleg Deripaska) and both sides don’t have secret phone calls with Vladimir Putin where even the translator notes must be destroyed.

Both sides don’t botch the response to a human tragedy like coronavirus because they’re worried about “their numbers”.

Both sides don’t see tens of thousands — more likely hundreds of thousands — of dead Americans as “victory”.

Both sides don’t shrug off things Donald Trump says or tweets (like “Liberate Virginia”) because they’re just words.

Both Sides Do It journalism breaks the first rule of journalism right out the door — it starts with a totally flawed premise. Both sides may do “things”, but those “things” are not the same. Some of those “things” are anti-democratic to their core. They’re authoritarian and cruel and must be stopped right here, right now. Both sides do not do it.

Both Sides Do It fails not only as journalism, it fails as storytelling. It fails at being good for anything.

Let’s remove it from the conversation.

Please.

Abuse Of Power Is The Republican Brand & The Republican Brand Is Abuse Of Power

There’s no similar string of corruption on the Democratic Party’s side: Watergate… Iran-Contra… The Iraq War… Trump-Russia-Trump-Ukraine (it’s the same thing). It’s not because the Democrats aren’t “creative” enough. They’re plenty creative. They just spend most of THEIR creativity on improving the Commonweal, not raping & pilaging it like pirates at a free-for-all.

Both sides do not abuse power the way Republicans do. In fact, both sides do not abuse power. The reason Republicans impeached Bill Clinton wasn’t because he was abusing power. Ironically, that’s what the Republicans were doing — going after Clinton because of a blow job. The American People got it then just like we’re getting it now.

Republicans must abuse power in order to keep power. They’d try to hold onto power using the value of their ideas but — even they know that’s a non-starter. Gerrymandering is an abuse of power. It’s the minority abusing power to disempower the majority so that the majority can’t express its voice. Voter suppression is even more flagrant abuse of power. It only works for the powerful, ya see? It’s impossible for the powerless to do the same thing to the powerful.

Republicans are keenly aware of the demographic handwriting on the wall. By 2050, estimates say, white people will officially be a minority in America. White people (the conservative Christian ones) have decided they won’t go quietly into minority-hood. They declared culture war on the rest of us — and deliberately set out to hijack our Democratic Republic first by capturing the judiciary. You can see Moscow Mitch McConnell hard at work cramming unqualified but ideologically compliant baby conservatives info lifetime appointments Mitch flat out denied President Obama.

Apparently in an election year, it’s up to We The People to, um, decide who we want as SCOTUS judges (nevermind that we already ELECTED a POTUS to do that very thing). I bet Mitch feels the exact opposite if another opening suddenly appears in 2020.

Republicans abuse power like the rest of us breathe.

We all know what Trump and the Republicans are up to — the ultimate abuse of power — permanent one-party (the minority party) rule.

It’s Christmas and Republicans hope like hell that that’s what they find under the tree. It’s incumbent on We The People to make sure Mitch and his fellow travelers find only coal in their stockings.