By Robert Reich
With Trump’s Big Lie largely unchallenged by Republican lawmakers, the Republican Party has swung almost entirely into the Trump camp. Over 70 percent of registered Republicans believe Trump won the 2020 election. Trump has worked to purge from the state and national party anyone he considers insufficiently loyal to him. His closest supporters have become so extreme that they are openly supporting authoritarianism and talking of Democrats as “vermin.”
Meanwhile, more than a third of Americans now say violent action against the government is sometimes justified — considerably more than in past polls dating back more than two decades. But a plurality of the people who feel this way are Republicans. Only 23 percent of Democrats think violence is sometimes justified, while 40 percent of Republicans say it is.
Some fear a violent clash in the 2024 election if Trump runs and loses. Three former top generals recently warned in the Washington Post of their increasing concern about “the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.”
Talk of potential civil war can be dangerous and distracting. As Fintan O’Toole recently wrote in The Atlantic, in a critique of a new book “The Next Civil War” by the Canadian novelist and cultural critic Stephen Marche, such prophecies can be self-fulfilling and corrosive, making people more fearful of one another. They also distract attention from chronic but less spectacular problems the country faces.
Even without a violent civil war, the chasm separating red and blue America has become so wide that the question arises: Can we continue to inhabit the same nation?