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Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent

No, We're Not on the Brink of Civil War. But the Reasons Why We're Not Are Far From Entirely Reassuring.

Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the U.S. is not on the brink of civil war. But the explanation for that is far from entirely reassuring.

The deeply polarized and highly partisan tone of recent politics has led some pundits to fear that we may be on the brink of another civil war. In reality, any such conflict is highly unlikely. But the reasons why are far from fully reassuring. Political scientist Morris Fiorina, a leading expert on American public opinion, has an excellent article explaining why the "brink of civil war" meme is greatly exaggerated:

Recent articles here and here by Victor Davis Hanson—my colleague at the Hoover Institution--paint a frightening picture of the United States as a country teetering on the edge of civil war..... I am happy to report that the available data provide grounds for feeling much more sanguine about the state of our country. Although they are noisy and harmful to our politics, the kinds of people Hanson criticizes are many fewer in number than generally believed. They are what political scientists call the political class, a small minority of self-appointed activists, demonstrators, donors, partisan media commentators and office-seekers. Given that such people are the public face of politics, many Americans understandably take them as representative, but they are statistically abnormal—what we call "outliers."

To understand contemporary American political life, you should begin with the realization that most of the people blabbering on cable television, venting on Facebook, and/or fulminating on Twitter are abnormal. They are abnormally interested and involved in politics, they tend to occupy the policy extremes, and they are abnormally opinionated... Consider some numbers. As of today, there are about 235 million eligible voters in the United States. About one percent of them subscribe to either The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Liberals rail against Fox News and conservatives against MSNBC; they should take consolation in the fact that the Fox viewing audience is about one percent of the eligible electorate while news shows on MSNBC fall short of that. Sean Hannity's is the highest-rated political show on cable television with an audience of about 1.5 percent of the eligible electorate. On the other end of the spectrum Rachel Maddow gets a bit over one percent. Anderson Cooper 360 draws in a paltry 0.4 of one percent. Granted, these small audiences may spread the word to some non-subscribers and non-viewers, but even taking such second-order effects into account, the simple fact is that the ranks of the politically interested are surprisingly thin.

Fiorina goes on to point out (correctly) that most Americans do not align with the ideological extremes of either party, and that the self-described distribution of liberals, moderates, and conservatives has changed very little over the last few decades. He is also right to emphasize that the kinds of people who avidly follow political news (and the kinds who tend to read blog posts like this one!) are highly unrepresentative. Fiorina could have added that the actual rate of domestic political violence in America today is still much lower than that of the 1960s, when both far-right and far-left groups engaged in it on a far larger scale than anything we have seen in recent years. Yet we did not come close to civil war back then, either.

The reasons for optimism about a potential civil war are far from reassuring when it comes to their implications for other aspects of American politics, however. As Fiorina emphasizes, the biggest factor tamping down war fever is that most Americans simply aren't that interested in politics, and don't follow it closely. This is actually rational behavior for most voters: if your only reason to keep track of government and public policy is to be a better voter, that's not much of an incentive to do so, since the chance your vote will make a different to the outcome of an election is extremely small. Widespread political ignorance of this kind reduces the quality of government policy, and renders voters vulnerable to deception and demagoguery, of the sort that we often see on both right and left. The dangers of this kind of ignorance are exacerbated by the enormous size, scope, and complexity of modern government, which make it difficult for rationally ignorant voters to effectively monitor more than a small fraction of its activities.

The small minority of activists that Fiorina refers to are generally much better-informed than the average voter. But they also tend to be highly biased in their evaluation of political information. Instead of acting as truth-seekers, most behave as loyal "political fans" of Team Red or Team Blue, overvaluing anything that supports their preexisting views, and discounting anything that cuts against them. This kind of bias has been on full display in recent days, when commentators' opinions on the veracity of the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been closely correlated with their general political alignment. Such "motivated reasoning" is particularly common in an era when (as Fiorina recognizes) the two parties are more polarized than in the past, and partisan hatred is unusually high.

Biased activists/political fans are unlikely to cause a new civil war. But they do wield political influence disproportionate to their numbers. That further reduces both the quality of political discourse, and the quality of the policies advocated by both major parties. We should be happy that a second Civil War is unlikely to break out anytime soon. But there is much less cause for celebration when it comes to the overall state of American democracy.

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  • GabrielSyme||

    Counterpoint:

    The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

    You don't need a huge percentage of the country to be politically active or informed for a civil war. The average Joe cares about having a steady job, food on the table, and a glimmer of hope of retiring by the time he's 80. Bread and circuses, basically. Risks to those, whether from political sea changes, economic recessions, space aliens, or anything else, are the sorts of things that will trigger the next civil war. The politically uninformed and uninvolved will be forced into it whether they like it or not, and they'll side with whoever seems most likely to fix everything.

  • Armchair Lawyer||

    More likely the "politicially uninformed" will just vote for who they think will give them their best choices.

  • Mesoman||

    Yep, typically only 5 percent need to be rebels.

  • KevinP||

    An interesting article on this subject:

    Why Democrats Would Lose the Second Civil War, Too

    http://townhall.com/columnists.....o-n2459833

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Ah, I would point out that you could probably have said the same about Ireland during the "troubles", so I don't actually find this very reassuring.

    Also, one of the defining characteristics of the SJW's of the left, is that they're interested in you, even if you're not interested in them. They don't permit anyone a separate peace. You're either with them, or the enemy.

  • Longtobefree||

    And some of those who think they are with them are also the enemy, if necessary - - - - - - - -

  • JoeGoins||

    For what it's worth, you probably should fix your profile. Your name is in orange because you put your home address were most people insert a website (email, company page, etc.) The website displays your address if we place the cursor on your name.

  • Furd Turgeson||

    I was really hoping that zooming in on that address in Florida would show a "fuck you" cut into a cornfield or something.....

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't know from SJW's, Brett. All I see is you turning your opposition into your enemy.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Haven't noticed what's being done to florists and bakers who just don't want to be part of a SSM? The left's world view doesn't allow for opting out of its victories.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The left keeps arguing for things, even after they win one of their arguments!

    You know what doesn't permit a separate piece? Democracy. The right passed all these laws I don't like about drugs, and torture. It sucks. But that's how it works.

    If you want to argue cakes are a moral horror like slavery, good luck.
    But I would note that even in the face of slavery, the North were the ones using policy; it was the South's desire to maintain the status quo that lead to their beating up a Senator and deciding it was time to break up the Union and start shooting up forts.

  • CE||

    Forts the North could have peacefully abandoned, rather than insisting on continue to collect tarriffs from a population that no longer wanted to be ruled by them.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The North sure could have surrendered when the South threatened violence. In retrospect, probably not a good move.
    But which side took up arms against policies they didn't like? The one who was into the policy of slavery. And the side that stuck to peaceful political means was the side trying to end that institution.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "The right passed all these laws I don't like about drugs..."

    Right?

    1914: The first recorded instance of the United States enacting a ban on the domestic distribution of drugs is the Harrison Narcotic Act[6] of 1914. [Wilson was President]

    1935: President Roosevelt hails the International Opium Convention and application of it in US. law and other anti-drug laws in a radio message to the nation.

    1937: Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. [New Deal democratic congress]

    1951: The 1951 Boggs Act increased penalties fourfold, including mandatory penalties. [Truman president, Democrtaic congress]

    In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted into law by Congress. [Dem congress but Nixon president so half a point]

  • Sarcastr0||

    Ugh. Yeah, you got me Bob, and it's a fair point. The political coalitions of today do not extend continuously back and I was being beyond facile to dumb.

    They are just the vanguard of continuing the war on drugs now, they didn't pass them. But it still supports my point about both sides, and everyone in between, having to lump some stuff you don't like in a democracy.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "having to lump some stuff you don't like in a democracy."

    Like the 1994 crime bill? Those poor Dems sure lump alot, eh?

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's almost as though the Clintons aren't model leftists.

  • bernard11||

    I wasn't aware that florists or bakers, or anyone else, for that matter, were being forced into same-sex marriages.

  • Armchair Lawyer||

    This may be tough for you, but let's give it a try.

    Different people can have different opinions and different beliefs about things. And that's OK. Understanding that different people have different beliefs, and being OK with it, and coming to say "I don't think that way, but you're entitled to your own beliefs" is a very important element in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.

    If there is a reasonable way for your beliefs and theirs to co-exist, this is generally the best option. Attempting to force your beliefs/ways on others generates conflict.

    Let's give you an example. The Little Sisters of the Poor. They were opposed to providing certain sorts of birth control, based on long standing religious grounds. They're a little group. An easy way around this would be to just give them a religious exemption. Then their beliefs are respected, and you can co-exist happily. Alternatively, you can "force them" via legal (or other) means to violate their beliefs. This generates conflict.

  • Armchair Lawyer||

    This may be tough for you, but let's give it a try.

    Different people can have different opinions and different beliefs about things. And that's OK. Understanding that different people have different beliefs, and being OK with it, and coming to say "I don't think that way, but you're entitled to your own beliefs" is a very important element in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.

    If there is a reasonable way for your beliefs and theirs to co-exist, this is generally the best option. Attempting to force your beliefs/ways on others generates conflict.

    Let's give you an example. The Little Sisters of the Poor. They were opposed to providing certain sorts of birth control, based on long standing religious grounds. They're a little group. An easy way around this would be to just give them a religious exemption. Then their beliefs are respected, and you can co-exist happily. Alternatively, you can "force them" via legal (or other) means to violate their beliefs. This generates conflict.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Haven't noticed what's being done to florists and bakers who just don't want to be part of a SSM?"

    Not to mention that the new standard of bigotry is not wanting to suck a girl's dick.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Maybe expand your media diet. You didn't used to be this hard core.

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Sarcastr0: "Maybe expand your media diet."

    TwelveInchPianist's point is pretty in-your-face, but it's not crazy. The Left-liberal world has been quick to adopt the trans-movements points pretty much down the line (you may disagree with me on this, but you'd be wrong). The newest trend in claims of transgendered people is that all the following people are transphobic and in need of re-orientation: [a] a straight cis-gendered man who says he'd never have sex with a MTF transgendered person (MTF-T), even one who has a penis, [b] a straight cis-gendered woman who says she'd never have sex with a FTM-T, [c] a gay man who says he'd never have sex with a FTM-T, [d] a lesbian who says she'd never have sex with a MTF-T (with a penis), and even [e] a cis-gendered person who'd like to have sex with a transgendered person because it would be kinky,

    I've run across this multiple times and am a little surprised you haven't.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    Yup. It's a perfectly predictable extension of the claim that folks ought to look beyond the shape of someone's genitals and treat them as the gender they identify with. People who buy into this claim ought to be prepared to follow through. All and all, it's not an unreasonable view, but it requires more commitment than I'm willing to demonstrate.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The 'newest trend' eh? Sounds to me more like the right making mountains out of some performative Internet molehills. I go on liberal websites and see a lot of trans activism, but nothing like that.

    Trans rights don't include the right to force you to want to have sex with them, as TiP implied. Respecting everyone's individual kink is part of the whole mindset.

  • mad_kalak||

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well, that's sure a data point turning into a trend.

    Non-FOX News makes it look more like a debate specific to the adult film industry than some wider initiative.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    And August Ames was a terrific piece of ass too. Fuck those SJWs.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Trans rights don't include the right to force you to want to have sex with them, as TiP implied."

    I never implied any such thing. I said that you will be considered bigoted if you decline to have sex with a trans person.

    And their argument is a good one. Trans girls want the same thing other girls want, to be flirted with, go out on dates, make out, engage in heavy petting, and, eventually go to someone's place and do what comes naturally.

    In every other case, it would be very odd to suddenly freak out on the last part because of the shape of the person's genitals. If you buy the trans premise, trans exclusionary dating becomes very difficult to defend.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Respecting everyone's individual kink is part of the whole mindset."

    Note the recent case of the SJW magazine writer who got fired for, inter alia, refusing to have sex with a woman unless she was wearing eye makeup.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Jezebel is not the vanguard of much these days, but good lord, did you read the article in question?
    Inter alia is doing a LOT of work there. To the point your post was deceitful. Becuase the guy the article about was coercing women in his workplace into sex. There's a text message that was pretty awful as well. .

    You're working hard to bring up stories for your narrative, but so far it's extremely anecdotal, and sometimes not even that. Your 11:35 strawman reasoning says more about your views of the left than reality.

    The trans premise is that genitals do matter, hence the importance of surgery!
    Your trendwatching is like when people satirized gay marriage doomsayers by saying everyone will have their gay spouse assigned via SorosMail. What's happened to you, man?

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Inter alia is doing a LOT of work there. To the point your post was deceitful. Becuase the guy the article about was coercing women in his workplace into sex."

    Why was his refusal to have sex with the woman without makeup characterized as "abuse" in the article? There were a couple of legit instances of abuse in the article (choking) but they were conflated with perfectly innocuous traits that were characterized as abuse. This is precisely the problem, that anything that ticks a woman off is abuse, just like post-coital regret is rape.

    "The trans premise is that genitals do matter, hence the importance of surgery!"

    I'm not sure you've been following much trans stuff. Lots of people transition without surgery. Many folks quite reasonably believe that they shouldn't have to alter their bodies to be treated as the gender that they identify with.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It was very much part of a much larger pattern. Being a dick to that woman was a small part of his generally troubling behavior.

    I won't say I follow carefully (I don't have much interest in the trans subforums), but there is chatter and I am aware that gender is fluid enough to encompass folks with or without surgery, and various levels of crossdressing and whatnot.

    Enough to know that essentializing the subset that are women with penises is serving an entirely narrative purpose, not a truthful one.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When right-wing authoritarians have control, they engage in statist womb management, wall-building, gay-bashing, ardent campus censorship, torture, abusive policing, voter suppression, government micromanagement of clinics, bigoted and authoritarian immigration practices . . . yet Brett Bellmore claims to believe that the anti-immigration, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, campus-censoring, vote-suppressing, gay-marriage-banning, drug-warring conservatives just want to be left alone.

    Authoritarian, stale-thinking right-wingers are among my favorite faux libertarians.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib's neuroses on stark display again.

  • Mesoman||

    Funny... defending innocent life is "womb management."

    Allow a few to refuse to participate in gay marriage against their will is "gay bashing."

    Ardent campus censorship - surely you jest, Rev. Except, I know you don't - you appear blind to the incredible irony and hypocrisy of that accusation.

    Voter suppression - a leftist pejorative meaning: reducing election meddling.

    Micromanagement of clinics... oh wait, we covered that already.

    Bigoted/authoritarian immigration practices: leftist cant for "upholding our national sovereignty."

    The stale thinking is yours, Rev - your charges are the same you always bring to the discussion.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Care to compare the freedom of expression on 10 strong liberal-libertarian campuses with the situation on 10 mediocre* conservative-controlled campuses, Mesoman?

    (Mediocre is about as good as it gets on conservative-controlled campuses. Teaching nonsense and shackling students and faculty with dogma and censorship relegates conservative-controlled schools to the third and fourth tiers and sketchy accreditation.)

    The liberal-libertarian side has Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Williams, Columbia, NYU, Princeton, Wellesley, Penn, and Amherst, or 10 other representative schools.

    The conservatives can send in Biola, Hillsdale, Liberty, Franciscan, Wheaton, Regent, Grove City, Ave Maria, Ozarks, and Dallas, or 10 similarly dismal representatives.

    Freedom of expression. Quality of institution. Academic freedom. Viewpoint-based discrimination in hiring, admissions, and academics. Allowance of dissent. In which areas are you prepared to have conservative-controlled schools stand for comparison, Mesoman?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Mediocre is about as good as it gets on conservative-controlled campuses

    And liberal urban school districts. Actually, those only wish they could achieve mediocrity.

  • CE||

    Berkeley used to defend freedom of expression. Now they riot if any right of center wants to speak on campus.

  • GabrielSyme||

    >Mediocre is about as good as it gets on conservative-controlled campuses.

    BYU is ranked #66 in the country, and its business and accounting programs are consistently ranke near the very top

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Mediocre is about as good as it gets on conservative-controlled campuses.
    BYU is ranked #66 in the country

    Is that intended as a refutation, a rebuttal, or a surrender?

  • GabrielSyme||

    Well I'd argue that BYU's football team is usually mediocre, but otherwise no, 66th best university in the country is way, way above mediocre. There are roughly 2,600 accredited universities in the US, and BYU is is the top 3%

  • Buddy Bizarre||

    I didn't receive my copy of the Right-wing nut job newsletter this month. Does anyone know who is assigned to pickup the dear Rev. & deliver him to the re-education camps when the civil war starts?

  • DjDiverDan||

    Well, if a civil war does come, at least I'm on the side with the most guns and ammunition. I have no desire to start anything, but no reluctance about helping finish whatever does start.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Pretty much my attitude. I don't think a civil war is likely in the immediate future, (Mainly because, at 59, my planning horizon is starting to get fairly short...) but Syme's link, (I'd seen it before.) is quite sound; Civil war is not as infrequent an event as people like to think.

    I think the most likely portrayal of what we might see is John Ross's "Unintended Consequences". Though it may have been a bit optimistic in the way it ended.

    You'd likely see escalating levels of terrorism directed against the government, not the set piece battles leftists imagine when they fantasize about the Air Force mowing down militia types.

    Not that this doesn't require anything like a majority of the population to be involved. It takes a lot less than a majority to render a country ungovernable.

  • ||

    Yep. Look at the way two nutcases with an M4 managed to paralyze D.C. back in 2002, and the way two jihadists with a pressure cooker and a pistol managed to paralyze Boston in 2013. 1,000 semi-competent people could bring America to its knees.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Imagine a few million such people across the country.

  • Longtobefree||

    Please consider what is not in the calculation above; the deep state of federal employees.
    Then dig through the archives on the web for the total number of armed federal agencies who have no reason to be armed. Add in the number of guns and ammunition bought during the Obama reign, but not distributed. The left will not need to unleash the army.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Nonsense. The Park Services are not going to volunteer to subjugate the masses, especially when their families live among the masses. Even the semi-militarized bureaucracies don't have the firepower to do more than provoke a nasty reaction.

  • bernard11||

    What do you think would be the casus belli?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Probably gun control again. It seems to bring out the jack boot in Democrats like nothing else does.

    But it could be the Antifa getting too bloody in public, and some Democrat controlled city or state refusing to do anything about it. Then Republicans start packing at political events in self defense, and the police are ordered against them, not the Antifa, when the next attack happens.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    I have suggested for some time that the 1A requires no weapons at political assemblies, by any of those assembling, on either side. That's what a right to "peaceable assembly," has to mean—a right to assemble politically without fear of armed initimidation. Care to join me in that advocacy, Brett?

  • mad_kalak||

    You're about a century to late to the table, review Presser v. Illinois.

  • ||

    Same. I have no desire to start any war, but the left will not leave these to our choice.

  • OtisAH||

    Considering you literally posted a few days ago how excited you are for a civil war, your confession you don't want to "start" one certainly lines up with the likelihood you are a coward. I guess it's back to fantasizing about getting prison-raped in your own home for you General Armchair.

  • ||

    I'm excited in the sense that I'd rather get it over with, than delay the inevitable for 50 more years. I also like the prospect of conservatives inflicting pain on the liberals who brought us to that point. After the conservative side wins, they shouldn't let the leadup be water under the bridge. They would need to do a mass extermination of the leftist traitors that started it

  • mad_kalak||

    ARWP, while I support commies being thrown from helicopters as much as the next guy, how are we going ID these "leftist traitor" for extermination. What criteria do you propose?

  • OtisAH||

    He doesn't have any criteria because he'd never actually be involved.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Anyone who voted for Obama twice should be on a watchlist.

    /partially sarcastic

  • OtisAH||

    Yup, a coward. And your cowardice is likely why you remain in closeted, too.

    Coward is as coward does.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    War's over, pal.

    You and your left-behind, bigoted, half-educated, gullible, fellow right-wingers -- and emptying, can't-keep-up communities -- have lost. Most of what you have left is muttering bitterly about all of this damned progress, reason, science, and tolerance. Oh, and pining for illusory 'good old days.'

    Some of you are perceptive enough to recognize this.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib's lack of historical knowledge grows starker as he becomes more senile.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Feel free to trade your unconvincing libertarian drag for a clown suit, Red Rocks, and describe for us the issues on which you contend conservatives are going to reverse liberal-libertarian dominance and win the culture war.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib thinks that surely the Optimates will remain in charge forever now that the pesky Gracchi brothers are dead!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Americans have encountered -- and overcome -- repeated waves of ignorance and intolerance.

    What is different about this time, and will enable the half-educated, bigoted, superstitious, gullible, unaccomplished, and insular to prevail against education, tolerance, science, modernity, reason, liberty, and inclusivity?

    I see our latest batch of bigots -- who seethe against everyone from Muslims to journalists, gays to professors, Hispanics to educated women -- as nothing special. No better, and no more likely to succeed, than those who targeted the Irish, Jews, blacks, Italians, atheists, Asians, women, Hispanics, Catholics, eastern Europeans, agnostics, gays, or others.

    America has been vindicating liberal-libertarian preferences against the wishes and efforts of right-wingers throughout my lifetime. I recommend preparing for another half-century of progress.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Arty, for a long time, perhaps too long, I have stayed my hand and allowed you and your kind to persist. The day will come when I say "no more". I am not alone. There are MILLIONS of us. With capabilities your stunted mind can scarcely imagine.

    One of us can destroy a thousand of you. For you are weak, cowardly, incapable, and poorly armed and trained.

    To put it bluntly, if you live to see another sunrise it is BECAUSE I ALLOW IT!

    But please, continue with your progtarded delusion. It will make your eventual awakening all the ruder.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I'll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I've been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I'm the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You're fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that's just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little "clever" comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn't, you didn't, and now you're paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You're fucking dead, kiddo.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib got the homeless guy at the library to type out a manifesto for him.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Open wider, conservatives.

    Your betters have more progress to shove down your whimpering throats.

    Be nice, or someone may decide that your bigotry warrants sending that progress down sideways.

    Don't you guys ever tire of losing?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib makes the case for going "the full Kent State".

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    #TeamPurple

  • DaveH||

    The question not addressed is the percentage of outliers in the 1850s US. One might predict that then, as now, most people just wanted to get on with their lives.

  • Rip Murdock||

    The alt-right on Free Republic are forever warning that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" but none of them seem to want to start the watering. Basically they are arm chair generals (aka "cowards"), all talk and no action. I have always wanted to ask them what it would take to push them over the edge, except it seems they have already gone over.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I have always wanted to ask them what it would take to push them over the edge, except it seems they have already gone over

    Maybe when they pull a Steve Scalise?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    If the midterms go poorly for the progtards I think they will become exponentially more violent. Perhaps enough to justify taking the gloves off and putting them down.

  • Flight-ER-Doc||

    When professors say things like "white Republican senators who were at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's hearing Friday should be castrated and endure a miserable death."

    How can war be far away? She may only be one professor, but she has influence over dozens to hundreds of students.....

    There is no more reason, or fair discourse. The far left hates everything that I consider to be part of America.... Well, OK. In the mean time, I'm willing to fight, knife to the hilt, to defend America against these enemies.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Don't make your opposition into your enemy because of some nuts.

    There have always been nuts, and other nuts who essentialize the first nuts as exemplars of their opposition.

    Don't be nuts.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Don't make your opposition into your enemy because of some nuts

    "Don't take it seriously when these people say they want you dead."

  • Sarcastr0||

    Fringe nutters talking about killing the other side have been a thing since at least the Greeks. Take them seriously - as individuals. Don't take them seriously as the vanguard of some new movement. That's just paranoia plus a scapegoat.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Don't take them seriously as the vanguard of some new movement.

    You should really try to make your gaslighting less obvious.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yeah, I'm totally working to keep you docile as part of a liberal plot. Haha.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Passive-aggressively trying to pretend your fellow travelers aren't authoritarian assholes is the biggest tell.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Some nuts";

    Look, Sarcastro, the problem isn't that she's a nut; Society can survive having a lot of nuts around.

    The problem is that she's a nut, who has correctly concluded that she can get away with advocating the mass murder of her political enemies, and is teaching our youth.

    Sure, the university claims they're not doing anything about it because they value freedom of speech. That's BS, if she were advocating mass murder of 'gays', for instance, she'd be out of there so fast she'd leave a contrail.

    She's saying this because she's in an environment where her opinion isn't viewed as "nuts", maybe just a little edgy for now.

  • OtisAH||

    Of all the unintenionally hilarious things you post, Brett, your distressed "[the university professor is] teaching our youth!" is an unintentionally hilarious prize-winner.

  • OtisAH||

    Of all the unintenionally hilarious things you post, Brett, your distressed "[the university professor is] teaching our youth!" is an unintentionally hilarious prize-winner.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Nutty professors have been a stereotype for a long time.

    And if you think it only takes one prof making death threats against whitey to cause the youth to rise up, your lack of faith in younger Americans means you deserve to live in anger and fear.

  • mad_kalak||

    One? Here are some results from a duckduckgo search of "leftist professors calling for the death of white people". I doubt these results are inclusive of all events, but they are each discrete ones.

    George Ciccariello-Maher, a professor at Philadelphia's Drexel University, has a Christmas wish: Death to all white people.

    According to a professor at Trinity College in Connecticut, white people deserve to die. Slowly and painfully.

    Outrage at college professor for calling white people who are proud of their race 'inhuman', and writing 'let them f**king die' after baseball gun attack on Republican lawmakers

    Tommy Curry, an associate professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University.... "When Is It OK to Kill Whites?" quotes Curry as saying in the podcast, "In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die."

    ....professor at North Carolina State University says the solution to the problems faced by many blacks is the extermination of "white people off the face of the planet." Kamau Kambon

  • Sarcastr0||

    The plural of anecdote is not data. It's espcially not when you're soaking in confirmation bias like that.
    Unless, of course, you're pushing a persecution narrative you're super into.

  • mad_kalak||

    We are all just telling stories, Sarcasto, some of us with better data. So, yea, you implied that since it was just one kooky professor, nobody should worry. I showed it was more than one. That's twice now in this thread you've been shown to have poor data.

    Meh. I must admit, though, I did take a few moments to prove you wrong, just because of your "citations" yesterday.

    Back to the point. Given the leftist ideological makeup of academia, at least in the oh so aptly named liberal arts (a topic of much debate on this blog) Brett's concern that the youth of America are being indoctrinated is a legit concern. Perhaps if the professors were calling for death to a different demographic group you'd care. Or calling for a return to segregation. Or nuclear war. Pick you're poison.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Indoctrination is only a concern if you assume every liberals' main agenda is spreading liberalism. That's just not true.
    I don't know the politics of most of my profs in any of the schools I went to, and there is no sign that has changed.

    I care in as much as I want profs that call for that to suffer professional consequences. I don't care as in making it proof my political opposition are out to kill me.

  • mad_kalak||

    "Indoctrination is only a concern if you assume every liberals' main agenda is spreading liberalism. That's just not true."

    You start from a false premise. Indoctrination doesn't have to be 24/7 the main agenda. Further, for many, it is their main agenda. How, you ask? Their educators. Educators who job is to educate. If to them doing their job means that the leftist worldview is correct, then a priori they are "indoctrinating" unless they do a fair job in presenting alternate views, or we are talking about the hard sciences.

    "I don't know the politics of most of my profs in any of the schools I went to, and there is no sign that has changed."

    No offense, but when was the last time you took a university course, and your major was physics, where ideology doesn't enter the lecture because there is no conservative or liberal way to balance an equation. And as for no sign that it's changed? I got no answer for that, if you can't see the leftward trend of academia, which is something like 10 to 1 liberal whereas a generation ago is was something like 3 to 1, then I got nothing.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    America must get back to demonizing all forms of socialism and bring back the Red Scare.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The leftist worldview defines all, to a liberal eh?

    You're just back to painting your opposition as something they are not.

    I completed my last degree in 2015.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    You're just back to painting your opposition as something they are not.

    As liars? No, you and your are definitely that.

  • AmosArch||

    that most of the people blabbering on cable television, venting on Facebook, and/or fulminating on Twitter are abnormal. They are abnormally interested and involved in politics, they tend to occupy the policy extremes, and they are abnormally opinionate
    >>>>>>>>>

    I disagree partially. Anecdotally most people I know on the lefthand side of the spectrum tend to voice political opinions with varying levels of regularity especially online. From wizened grampas to petite teenie boppers they'll be slagging off 'Drumpf' and clutching pearls at the latest +100billion shared viral slight of an LGBT person getting the word 'homo' written on their receipt. OTOH the more conservative people I know tend to hide their opinions with a handful of exceptions. If you find somebody who doesn't seem political they're more likely to be conservative or extremely conservative than the other way around.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    OTOH the more conservative people I know tend to hide their opinions with a handful of exceptions.

    One of the great achievements of our liberal-libertarian alliance is that bigots and yahoos no longer like to be known as bigots and yahoos, at least not outside trusted environments such as private homes, militia meetings, and Republican Committee gatherings.

  • Mesoman||

    Rev, you're on a roll tonight. I taking you aren't getting any?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Things must be slow for him at the glory hole.

  • OtisAH||

    Both Amos and the Rev are way off here. Amos thinks, despite all objective evidence, that conservatives keep their opinions to themselves. Breitbart, LMFAOWars, the Gateway Pundit, The Weekly Standard, Reason!, and the rest will be upset to hear this news. But Rev thinking conservatives are still keeping on the downlow (politically, I mean) is equally incorrect. Trumpism has granted them the freedom to let their freak flags fly, and they are flying, baby, they are flying.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Fiorina could have added that the actual rate of domestic political violence in America today is still much lower than that of the 1960s, when both far-right and far-left groups engaged in it on a far larger scale than anything we have seen in recent years. Yet we did not come close to civil war back then, either

    That's because the white UMC liberals who were the vanguard of the New Left in the late 60s and early 70s were not interested in being martyrs; they expected the POCs to rise up and do their dirty work for them. One of the reasons that Weatherman and the Black Panthers fell out is the latter thought the former were pussies who wouldn't actually put their lives on the line. Nothing's really changed in 50 years, either.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Re purposing the never realized racialized fears of the 1960s is efficient, I guess.

  • mad_kalak||

    "the black main ain't afraid to throw a brick"

    White Riot - The Clash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvG3is7Bm1w

  • mad_kalak||

    Mis-remembered the lyrics

    White riot I wanna riot
    White riot a riot of my own
    White riot I wanna riot
    White riot a riot of my own

    Black man gotta lot a problems
    But they don't mind throwing a brick
    White people go to school
    Where they teach you how to be thick

    An' everybody's doing
    Just what they're told to
    An' nobody wants
    To go to jail

    All the power's in the hands
    Of people rich enough to buy it
    While we walk the street
    Too chicken to even try it

    Everybody's doing
    Just what they're told to
    Nobody wants
    To go to jail

    Are you takin' over
    Or are you takin' orders?
    Are you goin' backwards
    Or are you goin' forwards?

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Trading lyrics. I prefer Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"

    There's something happening here
    What it is ain't exactly clear
    There's a man with a gun over there
    Telling me I got to beware

    I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    There's battle lines being drawn
    Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
    Young people speaking their minds
    Getting so much resistance from behind

    It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    What a field-day for the heat
    A thousand people in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly say, hooray for our side

    It's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your life it will creep
    It starts when you're always afraid
    You step out of line, the man come and take you away

    We better stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, now, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, children, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Re purposing the never realized racialized fears of the 1960s is efficient

    So is observing modern progressives.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    And the fallout between Weatherman and the Black Panthers as well as other black power groups is well-known by anyone who's actually read the history of that era.

  • Sarcastr0||

    And yet America never fell to the long-hairs or the blacks. Miraculous. Better fear them now, though!

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Well, your clear lack of reading comprehension skills certainly marks you as a recent college graduate:

    That's because the white UMC liberals who were the vanguard of the New Left in the late 60s and early 70s were not interested in being martyrs; they expected the POCs to rise up and do their dirty work for them. One of the reasons that Weatherman and the Black Panthers fell out is the latter thought the former were pussies who wouldn't actually put their lives on the line. Nothing's really changed in 50 years, either.

    Maybe try reading a book whose central characters aren't teenage wizards.

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    There's the serious question of what a "civil war" would look like. The case of the U.S. Civil War, which involved control of territory, is at least initially uncommon. And a civil war doesn't just break out. It requires a time period of increasing tensions and hostilities, development of narratives and counter narratives supporting one side or the other, a breakdown of social control, and some sort of precipitating action (or a series of actions and escalating reactions).

    (continued)

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    (continued)

    It is common to have some combination of the following: multiple, long-term demonstrations and attempts to shut down of governmental sites. These often lead to a brutal crackdown. Regional governments may implement policies that violate those of the larger state. At some point, there may be an attempt to overthrow the government, or a region may elect to fully secede. This is followed by governmental use of military force to restore the power of the State, and it will include incarcerating large numbers of people, often accompanied by serious violations of human rights (e.g., torture, rape, killing; the usual things). The judiciary may be co-opted or have its power diminished. Then....in a lot of cases, people have been surprised that civil war actually came, and it seemed to be quickly.

    So where are we now? We are at the point of fine-tuning the narratives that separate the sides. Without mutual respect and the ability to tolerate losing, those in positions of power use ever more extreme tactics to advance their sides' interests at the expense of the other side -- which is no longer the "loyal opposition" but the "enemy." Public trust in major institutions has dropped precipitously. Militant groups have organized and have attacked people. Their number are still small, but they have substantial support among more ordinary people, who have been unwilling to call them down or attempt to intervene.

    (continued)

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    (continued)

    So far the judiciary -- which I'll argue has to some extent been co-opted -- has not been challenged, but confidence in SCOTUS has dropped. What happens when Kavanaugh is confirmed? What happens when Kavanaugh is /not/ confirmed? If a state or city (or an administration) were to, metaphorically, say f-bomb-you to a court decision, it would take us into new territory.

    Sure the general populace isn't as divided as the political class, but the general populace doesn't ever start these things. They may be uninvolved and not as interested as the political class, but they get dragged along.

    What are the major players, politically and culturally? The Left dominates the universities, the news media, the culture industries (film/TV/music), and the coastal regions, but has been stalled in its goals and is restive. The Right dominates the rest of the country, politically and culturally, but it feels itself to be under constant assault and threatened.

    We might not be so far from that precipitating action. If so--well the military enjoys high public confidence and tends to be very conservative. One would hope that it's adherence to the Constitution would be enough to constrain it were the worst to happen. We don't want to test that.

  • Chem_Geek||

    "Regional governments may implement policies that violate those of the larger state. At some point, there may be an attempt to overthrow the government, or a region may elect to fully secede."

    Well, the State of California is in open rebellion against the Federal government, and there is an attempted coup d'état underway against the duly elected Federal government...

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well, the State of California is in open rebellion against the Federal government, and there is an attempted coup d'état underway against the duly elected Federal government...

    With rhetoric like that, it's a wonder you haven't taken up arms to invade!

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    He's sharpening a narrative.

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Chem_Geek: "Well, the State of California is in open rebellion against the Federal government,"

    Two points:

    (1) California still follows Federal court decisions.
    (2) You are helping sharpen a narrative.

  • Soronel Haetir||

    I believe the cause will be financial. That as the promises governments have made come due and are paid with ever less valuable dollars the country will simply fracture. I do not believe it will be a simple left vs right but something much more complicated. Perhaps starting as coasts vs the center but that will quickly break.

    Thankfully I do believe we're still thirty or forty years from this point.

  • ||

    I think it's more like 15-20.

  • QuantumBoxCat||

    This article was so meta. Somin writing a piece that describes the commentary of the Conspirators here, as is evidenced with the recent articles on Kavanaugh.

  • mad_kalak||

    This comment slipped by me the first time. Yea, it's pretty funny I think.

  • CE||

    Just let the blue states secede this time. There never has to be a war if you allow peaceful secession into coherent politial units.

  • Soronel Haetir||

    Actually, I doubt there will be funding enough for serious warfare. Some nasty squabbles to determine borders but I really don't think anyone will be fighting to keep the whole together.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't see a lot of hunger in the Blue States to solve this via secession.

  • GabrielSyme||

    >I don't see a lot of hunger in the Blue States to solve this via secession.

    Supposedly about 33% of Californians support the idea: http://www.latimes.com/politic.....story.html

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    GabrielSyme: "Supposedly about 33% of Californians support the idea..."

    In years past, it was Texas that was hot to do this. In fact it still is!

    PBS: Should Texas Secede?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Those aren't the lefties in Cali who want to secede.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Still, half of Californians opposed the idea of succession, though Democrats were more inclined to support it than Republicans."

    Although this could be similar to the Man Show's petition to end women's suffrage.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Hard to say. I was tracking the State of Jefferson, wherein the northern rural part of Cali wants to join the southern rural part of Oregon. And Russian money was helping give it traction.

  • Doug Huffman||

    Why would we know what would start it, and why would we want to know, or, knowing, why on earth would we tell? Better that the progs and takers wake up in Hell thinking, "So that was it!"

    If there is to be bloody conflict then let it begin now while my grip is firm and my blood hot. Better me than my daughter. Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and guns and The Truth.

  • Sarcastr0||

    If there is to be bloody conflict then let it begin now while my grip is firm and my blood hot.

    Oy.

  • Sarcastr0||

    As expected, lots of folks in this generally more intellectual forum enthusiastically lamenting how they will soon have to lust for liberal blood (but they don't right now, no sir!). Yearning to purge your political opposition isn't generally a sign of the strength of your convictions; it only feels like it.

    But they have become the baseline; the frustrated rump of an already rump subgroup of the GOP. Been around since Clinton, in about the same numbers. The fact that their fantasies require the left to fire the first shot, and only then will the cleansing purge occur. That's why there will never be a conflict. Because the left won't go first, and the right won't go first. It's all sincere, but sincere grumbling.

    The next time someone gets up to a Bundy-esque clown show that'll probably be decried as a false flag by the Deep State.

  • ||

    Oh, yes the left will go first. Liberals have an insatiable desire to control us.

  • Sarcastr0||

    If we control as much of America as you think, we already control you without needing to fire a shot.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    But progressives are soft weak, and easily disposed of. Much like throwing away rotting garbage.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I don't feel bad about wanting to see marxists deposited in a landfill. Their dearest wish is to enslave me. Therefore they must go.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well, your lack of action is pretty disappointing then.

    Standard Internet Tough Guy talk, really.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The fact that their fantasies require the left to fire the first shot, and only then will the cleansing purge occur.

    Considering the Oklahoma bombing was a direct response to Waco and Ruby Ridge, you might want to rethink your snark.

  • mad_kalak||

    What Fiorina misses, and his Political Science chops are the best in the field, is that it only takes a small percent of the populace (less than 5% in some cases) to start a revolution/civil war that the rest of us get caught up in.

  • tkamenick||

    I'm reminded of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. You don't need a large number of people being leaders willing to back revolutionary changes. You need a sufficient (but fairly small) number of leaders and a large number of followers, which is not as hard to accomplish.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Some "activists" assaulted a GOP congressman in his office today.

    A Bernie volunteer tried to kill several GOP congressmen last year and would have if he had not selected one with a security detail.

    I say the left has already made the first moves.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    If the midterms go against them you will see much more. When these traitors act, Americans must respond with brutal, deadly force every time.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You revel in speculating your opposition will become your enemy.

    It's not healthy.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Nah, it's being aware via plain observation.

  • Rеv. Arthur I. Kirkland||

    Don't be too sure, Bull Cow.

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