Sparking a second civil war: The question for 2024 elections isn’t who will win, but will America survive?
The attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election failed but insecurity, insurrection and anarchy still loom. Fear is mounting that the country could explode in two years depending on results at the voting booth — who is running and who loses their run for office.
When Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers, a national right wing group, testified during recent congressional hearings about the attack on the U.S. Capitol one year ago, he was blunt.
I think we need to quit mincing words and just talk about truths and what it was going to be was an armed revolution. People died that day, law enforcement officers died this day, there was a gallows set up in front of the Capitol. This could have been the spark that started a new civil war.
And, he has warned, the danger isn’t over depending on how former President Trump, a key figure and accused conspirator, insurrection catalyst, and others respond during the 2024 presidential election.
He and others from across the political spectrum — from progressive to conservative and liberal to right wing — say America is in trouble and could explode into an all-out civil war.
Mr. Van Tatenhove said he was no longer part of the Oath Keepers, which is composed of current and former law enforcement, military personnel, first responders and others who insist their obligation is to defend their interpretation of the Constitution above all else.
Called to testify, he told committee members his onetime group is dangerous.
I think the best illustration for what the Oath Keepers are, happened Jan. 6, and we saw that stacked military formation going up the stairs of our Capitol.
I saw radicalization that started with my beginning of my time with them and continued over a period of time as the member base, and who (organization leader) Stewart Rhodes was courting, drifted further and further right into the alt-right world, into White nationalists and even straight up racists.
Surveys show plenty of pessimism about America: A 2021 Zogby poll published by the Brookings Institution found that nearly half of Americans believed that a second civil war was likely.
White discontent is fueling an extreme and violent response, analysts like Sara Kamali, of the University of California Santa Barbara, warn.
She wrote about how and why the U.S.-based Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, individuals, and groups attempted a collective coup on Jan. 6, 2021.
White nationalists believe that White people and identity are under attack worldwide by immigrants, people of color and, increasingly, progressives and liberals who do not share their racist, religious, anti-government beliefs or conspiracy theories.
White nationalists want to “reclaim land as a White state governed and inhabited by White people only,” Prof. Kamali said. She also noted, “the Oath Keepers have consistently taken stances that are racist and have warned of an impending civil war in the United States.”
White discontent, division and danger
The seventh hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol focused on connections between White supremacist groups, supporters of then-President Trump and efforts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election lost by the GOP’s ruler.
During the hearings, the links between alt-right groups, like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Republican Party, and others were exposed.
While Mr. Trump may be a central figure in the volatile U.S. political equation, he is not the sole cause of the country’s problems.
Racism and unrepentant White entitlement are part of mainstream politics and an important part of the ideology of millions of Republicans, a majority of whom don’t see Joe Biden as a legitimate president.
Though Republican leaders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana have denounced White supremacy, several prominent Republicans still maintain ties to White nationalist groups.
On July 11, 2022, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have authorized federal agencies to monitor domestic terrorism within the U.S., including incidents involving White supremacy.
But the unwillingness to confront or even admit to a White domestic terror problem or threat is a longstanding one: As far back as the 1990s, Democrats and Republicans were loath to crack down on armed White militias in the United States. Though many of the groups were anti-government and called the federal government the enemy, political leaders appealed for understanding and respect for individual rights. Those who have warned about the danger of White right groups have often found themselves under fire, including those who have repeated these warnings over the last four years.
What was once seen as a fringe element is now part of “the allure of the White nationalist platform to elected officials and voters. Many successful local, state and federal elections in 2020 centered on perpetuating the Big Lie, the conspiracy theory embraced by many white nationalists that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump,” wrote Prof. Kamali.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, is co-chair of the Jan. 6 congressional select committee, which is led by Bennie Thompson, a Black Democrat from Mississippi.
Can America survive?
Beyond information exposed during the congressional hearings is a major question: Can the U.S. survive a national election in 2024?
Late last year, Newsweek explored the possibility of civil war after the 2024 elections in a country filled with millions of guns and millions of Whites who see their government as the enemy.
What might lead to large-scale armed threat or even violence around the 2024 elections? There may be only one narrow path to avoiding it: A comfortable, incontestable win by Trump, assuming he’s the Republican candidate. Democrats might despair at the loss, but it’s not likely that they will go into mass protests against what could be seen as a legitimate election win.
Citing the Armed Conflict Location and Evident Data report (ACLED), Newsweek continued, “But if Trump loses, by any margin, and is unable to overturn the results through legal or political means, it seems likely Republicans will declare the election fraudulent. In 2020, the conviction — against all evidence — that Trump had the presidency stolen from him brought an insurrectionist mob to the U.S. Capitol. … In 2024, that sort of mob, which will have been fed for four years on false claims of a ‘Big Steal’ and exhortations to fight back against tyranny, will likely be far, far larger. If gun-control laws are weakened by the Supreme Court, they will also likely be heavily armed. In addition to Washington, D.C., the ACLED report found that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Oregon face the largest risk of armed uprisings in contested elections, followed by North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, California, and New Mexico. But shortly after the January 6 insurrection, the FBI warned that all 50 state capitols were at risk.” The ACLED report stands for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
If Trump wins, but by a small margin that Democrats can attribute to Republican laws and tactics aimed at suppressing Democratic votes, massive protests around the country are inevitable. Democrats won’t have to stretch their imaginations to make that claim: In 2021, 43 states proposed more than 250 laws limiting voting access. For these and other reasons, America has been steadily dropping on the widely cited Freedom in the World ranking of countries by how democratic they are. The U.S. has fallen from the company of large, Western European countries to end up today alongside Ghana and Mongolia.
If police can’t or won’t deal with an armed uprising, the last hope for a peaceful resolution would probably be the National Guard and military. Only the governor can call out the National Guard in a state, and only the president can deploy the military. To send in the military to quell disturbances on U.S. soil, the president must invoke the Insurrection Act, last used in 1992 by then-President George H. W. Bush to help restore order during the Los Angeles riots.
Joe Biden would likely still be president at the initiation of election-related violence, so if the National Guard were unable to quiet things down in one or more states — or if a governor refused to call in the Guard — it would fall squarely on Biden’s shoulders to make that call. … The National Guard or military would almost certainly prevail in shutting down the worst of the violence and protecting the government. But two key questions arise: Would military leadership accept Biden’s orders to deploy against an armed uprising? And if it did, would the rank and file follow their commanders’ orders to take up arms against fellow Americans whose motivations might resonate with many of their own?
According to Barbara Walter, a member of the CIA’s Political Instability Task Force and author of “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them,” when standards used to measure foreign democracies were applied to the United States, America’s status was downgraded to an “anocracy.”
An anocracy is a hybrid, mixing both democracy and autocracy, as it transitions between one form of government to the other.
Ms. Walter, speaking at the virtual Upfront Summit 2022 out of Santa Monica, Calif., explained how the task force mission was to help the U.S. government predict “international political instability and political violence and when we put together the model, we thought of every possible variable that could put a country on the road to civil wars.”
An important variable “was whether the citizens in those partial democracies began to organize themselves politically around identity, whether they began to form political parties around ethnicity, religion and/or race as opposed to ideology,” Ms. Walter said.
All of those things are happening in America right now.
Although the congressional hearings have produced damning testimonies from White House insiders and rank-and-file Americans, the country remains bitterly divided over perceptions of Jan. 6, 2021, and the weeks leading up to it.
On day seven of the Select Committee Investigating the Attack on the U.S. Capitol hearing, how those attending President Trump’s Stop the Steal rally morphed into a frenzied mob of violent extremists and new testimonies provided insight into tensions not seen in American politics since the Civil War of 1860.
When you’re on the losing side that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it, and in the United States, there’s plenty you can do, and say so. You can protest, you can organize, you can get ready for the next election, to try to make sure your side has a better chance the next time the people settle their differences at the ballot box, but you can’t turn violent.
But violence has already occurred, and many Americans are planning for and calling for more violence.
Committee Vice Chair Cheney said a closed-door interview with former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone revealed additional information about the president’s behavior during the violence of Jan. 6. But, she stressed, lies from the highest levels of government have permanently changed the lives of those who rioted at the Capitol and the hearings show Mr. Trump knew the 2020 presidential election was not stolen.
According to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a joint session of Congress is to be held on the sixth day of January following presidential elections where the electoral votes are officially tallied by both houses of Congress and certified by the president of the Senate–the vice president of the United States.
Dr. Jared Ball, associate professor of Communication and Africana Studies at Morgan State University and a researcher of social movements and political organization, told The Final Call that a radical solution is needed if Black America is to survive the global agendas of the White elite.
“The hearings and the duopoly of (the) dominant political parties represent a charade (and) the struggle among the political elite to manage power,” he said.
A country moving toward civil strife, unrest and bloodshed
How much good have the two parties (Republican and Democrat) done for us for the last century in the way of freedom, justice and equality?” Messenger Muhammad asked on page 36 of his monumental book, “The Fall of America.” “Regardless of what party wins, the die is always set against us (the Black people in America). Injustice, crooked politics, and the breeding of corruption under crooked politics have been practiced ever since Adam to the present day rulers.
The United States of America is moving closer and closer to great civil strife, unrest and bloodshed. Although the American people are supposed to be citizens of one nation, the division between labor and management is growing more intense. The division between the haves and have nots is getting wider and wider and that breach is being filled with hatred.
The division between politics, right and left, so-called Christians, right and left, liberals, conservatives and all of the many causes that people are giving themselves to, whether social, religious or political, are now beginning to show signs of bloodshed.
People do not seem to be willing to argue their point and let truth prevail, but the frustration of arguments is leading to resolution of conflict by means of the gun. So, the weapons of war are being sold legally and illegally throughout the United States in unprecedented numbers. The proliferation of weapons of the assault kind are mounting in the Black and White communities.
Civil unrest in the future will not be able to be handled by the police. The police will be supported by the National Guard and the National Guard will be supported by federal troops. When this day arrives, and it will, the breakdown of law and order will be so great in America that it will be as the prophets foretold, ‘a time of trouble such as never was, since there was a nation even to that same time.’ Blood, as John the Revelator saw, ‘will be running in the streets even up to the horse’s bridle.’ This is a terrible prophecy, and it does not appear that it will be avoided or averted.
The most painful war America has ever fought was the Civil War, which pitted North and South against each other. It is 130 years from the conclusion of that war and, although a healing is taking place, many of the old scars still remain.