Could We be Heading for a Post-Election Civil War?

  • October 31, 2020
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Could We be Heading for a Post Election Civil War – a Democratic article

The question of whether the United States is heading towards civil war is a terrifying one. However, it is one that must be considered given the current political climate.

The most obvious cause for a civil war would be a contentious election result. Something like the drawn out election of 2000 where Al Gore and George Bush needed multiple recounts and a Supreme Court decision to select a winner in Florida. While the 2000 recount didn’t lead to civil war, here’s why one in 2020 could.

The United States is more polarized than it was in 2000; so polarized that many scholars and pundits have said that Americans have not been this polarized since the actual Civil War in 1861, nearly 200 years ago. This level of polarization paired with the out of control pandemic could have disastrous consequences.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are convinced that the country is on the verge of a civil war, and even half of the country has already started stockpiling essential goods. This polling is extremely concerning because, if the majority of Americans believe the country is about to tear itself apart, it could very well happen.

What is even more concerning is that the people on the political extremes are the ones who are most worried about civil war. Polarization has gotten so bad that many see civil war as inevitable. Like many other issues, President Trump has only worsened the fears of a civil war. He has not only failed to disavow white supremacists such as the proud boys, but also the dangerous, and frankly deranged, Qanon conspiracy theory and its followers. Just to make it clear, the FBI considers Qanon a domestic terrorism threat.

Trump’s inability to repudiate white supremacists has already led to chaos. There was the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin where an out of state teenager drove with an AR-15 to “protect property”. In doing so he killed two people. The proud boys have frequently clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters throughout the country, especially in Portland, Oregon. There has even been an attempted kidnapping against Governor Whitmer of Michigan.

Trump refusing to disavow Qanon is honestly just insane because it is such an easy thing to do. They do not represent a significant voter base; most Americans disagree with the conspiracy theory. It would also reassure the nation that the President rejects this irresponsibility.

Trump has also refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power. Trump’s refusal to accept a loss is arguably the single most important thing that could cause a civil war. Trump is truly desperate to avoid a loss, so he is doing everything in, and out, of his power to ensure he wins.

Trump is constantly lying about the integrity of the election to cast doubt over the results. This is to try and get the results to the supreme court, where his newly appointed justice and the court’s conservative supermajority would vote in his favor, just like 2000. He even supported California republicans committing actual election fraud in his favor. The California GOP is putting up fake drop boxes in majority democratic neighborhoods in order to sway the results of the election. They are even refusing to comply with the state of California when asked to stop.

Not to mention that Trump has also rallied against mail-in ballots because he believes they will be bad for him. Not only has the GOP followed Trump’s lead, but even everyday citizens are also doing what they can to sway the election in his favor. A Pennsylvania mailman was caught throwing mail away in order to benefit Trump. Earlier in the summer, Trump tear-gassed protesters for a photo op with a bible – a disturbing signal that he is willing to use asymmetric force to get what he wants.

Amongst this doom and gloom, there is some good news though. The FBI has foiled the attacks on Governor Whitmer and internet companies are mitigating the spread of Qanon. Most Americans would wish to avoid a civil war and there is not an insignificant possibility that Joe Biden will win a landslide next week making it harder for Trump to characterize the results as “the most fraudulent in history”. One can just hope that Americans, and the country as a whole, regain their senses.

Written by Democratic Writer, Ali Lahrech

Point of Information

Civil War is unlikely, civil unrest is extremely likely – A Republican Response

Donald Trump has said a lot of things throughout his presidency. One of the most concerning to me has been his refusal to commit to the peaceful transition of power.

However, after nearly two and a half centuries of peaceful transition from president to president, Donald Trump will not be the first one to ruin that streak. Simply put, it’s going to be one man against the entire country. Julius Caesar marched into Rome with a legion of soldiers to claim his place as emperor of Rome. Mussolini did the same in 1922. Donald Trump will not march into Washington with a battalion of soldiers. The only way Trump may remain president despite losing the election will be through the Supreme Court. This is where the newly appointed Amy Coney Barrett, and the subsequent 6-3 conservative majority, on the court may come into play.

However, the idea that we’re on the verge of civil war is quite ludicrous. The average American is a patriot, a strong supporter of the constitution and the various institutions of our government.

Fringe groups such as Qanon have certainly proven themselves to be a danger, but they’re nothing more than fringe groups. Yes, they are armed, and yes, the possibility for violence is high. But that’s where I believe we are headed for, not for all-out civil war. It’s likely there will be sporadic attacks or instances of violence. The rise in weapon sales as mentioned by my colleague Kieran is disturbing. However, what is more disturbing is the fear-mongering that is going on across the country, whether it be on the news or on social media.

When someone goes on TV and says we’re on the verge of a civil war it causes a defensive reaction from people. Naturally, the first response is to arm themselves to protect themselves and their family. Just as Trump has a duty as the president to condemn these fringe groups, so does the media in not giving them the notoriety they seek.

The saddest part of this is that the people who will likely be most affected by this, the victims of the probable violence which will ensue following 3 November, are the average Americans who love their country and will accept the outcome of the election whether or not they support the winner. Donald Trump must take action and condemn groups such as Qanon and must commit to the peaceful transition of power; it’s the only way for him to somewhat save face for an otherwise disastrous presidency.

These next months will be a difficult time, but it’s when the country is at its lowest that the American people rally together to unify. I have faith in the American people, as despite our politicians being unable to get along, I know that the American people are capable of much more.

Written by Republican Writer, Sebastian Calcopietro

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A landslide of either way is the only thing that will save America – A Foreign Perspective

I fully agree with my colleague. I too am worried about the election aftermath. 

The Trump presidency has been a presidency like no other. Whenever he has had the chance to calm tensions down he has actively done the opposite. Refusing to condemn white supremacists, stoking racial tension instead of trying to heal them. It’s appalling. It is clear he thrives off division. It is also clear that Trump is willing to destroy democracy to stay in power. He has been sowing the seeds of mistrust in democracy just like he sowed the seeds of distrust in media.

A close result of either way would be terrible for America. It would mean contest from whichever side lost, claiming our polls and stats showed we won. I have more faith in Biden to not to do this as he wants to unite the country, not destroy it completely, but some of his more radical supporters might not heed him.

Another point showing that America is heading for a reckoning is gun sales are booming. Smith and Wesson, a US gun manufacturer, says that gun sales are ‘unparalleled’. It’s clear that the pandemic and protests fuelled these gun highs, as explained here. This is terrifying. Many more millions of people own the ability to kill each other, and in a world where America is possibly heading for civil war, this is very bad.

It might not even take a contested result to push America over the edge. It is not clear that the result of the election will be known quickly after 3 November. They could possibly be dragged out, leading one side to claim early and then the other to counterclaim. This would raise tensions as well.

It is clear that either candidate winning by a slim margin would have terrible consequences. The only thing that I can see that would save America from this path is a landslide. An incontestable result from either candidate would prevent the other from claiming fraud, thus preventing civil war. I doubt the Supreme Court would overturn a clear result, no matter the makeup.

To come back to Ali’s last point, it is clear that the US has gone far down the hole of hyper-partisanship for one election even with a landslide result, to fully regain its senses overnight. It will take a lot longer to heal from this. Trump did not invent hyper-partisanship and it will not be solved by his removal. He has definitely caused the volatility to rise, however.  

I am not very optimistic for the US coming out of this election. It is clear that no matter what, Trump will drag it out to the bitter end, dividing further as he goes.

Written by Foreign Perspective Writer, Kieran Burt

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Ali Lahrech
Democratic Writer | Website

Hi, I’m Ali and I’m in my third year at the University of Toronto. I’m studying International Relations as my major and Spanish as my minor.

 

I was born and raised in Washington DC to Moroccan parents. This gave me a unique lens with which to observe the country I was raised in. While I am an American citizen, I often have a different perspective than my friends and peers whose families have been in the United States for much longer than mine. Growing up in around DC also gave the unique opportunity of being at the heart of American politics. Ever since President Barrack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 I was hooked.

 

I have always been left of the American center and most closely aligned myself with the Democratic party. While I vote for the Democratic party, like many Americans I’m starting to feel more and more disillusioned with them and the two-party system. The 2016 election is was the catalyst for my dissatisfaction with the American political parties. I had seen the Republican party move further and further right while the Democrats hadn’t really moved left. They had essentially implemented a policy of appeasement towards the Republicans. In summation I was disappointed that the Democrats had bent the knee to Republicans rather than proposing and implementing bold and forward-thinking policies that would help Americans.

 

This disappointment and disillusionment started to transform into optimism after the 2018 midterms. I saw that there was still hope for a bright future for America. The Democratic party had started to shift leftwards, albeit at a snail’s pace. After the 2018 midterms I became a man possessed by American politics. As I dove deeper and deeper into American politics, I realized that we don’t know enough about it. This fact is why I think it is key for all of us, no matter our perspectives, to have a conversation with each other and most importantly listen to one another; so, we better understand one another and where we’re coming from.

 

Therefore, I look forward to sharing my perspective with POI and reading others’ with great enthusiasm.

 

 

Sebastian Calcopietro
Junior Conservative Writer at | Website
Hello, my name is Sebastian or “Seb” and I am currently going into my third year of
studies at the University of Exeter, completing a bachelor’s degree in International
Relations.
Kieran Burt
Conservative writer at | Website

Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.

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