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I can’t remember ever hearing the two-word phrase, “civil war,” as much as I’ve heard it over the past year. Yesterday, at the latest, post-election, Trump-forever rally in downtown Washington, DC, the Washington Post reported that “podcaster David Harris, Jr. riled the crowd by suggesting if there were a civil war, ‘we’re the ones with all the guns.’”
This followed news reports that ultra-rightist Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, the day before, “posted photos taken inside the White House gates on the conservative platform Parler, adding that he had received a ‘last minute invite to an undisclosed location.’” White House officials denied that he had met with Trump or anyone else.
Is it realistic that Trump would have such a meeting? I’d say yes, given his desperation after all of the Supreme Court justices, including the three he appointed, summarily dismissed his latest loser lawsuit, clearing the way for the Electoral College tomorrow to officially elect Biden/Harris.
A desperate, anti-democratic, authoritarian, narcissistic, emotionally-depressed would-be dictator, with nowhere else to turn, could turn to extra-legal, extra-parliamentary action.
After all, in the months leading up to the November 3 election, he repeatedly and consistently declared that the elections were rigged. He called upon his supporters on election day to jam up polling sites. At the September 29th Presidential debate he said, “I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”
Did any of this happen on November 3? Apparently very little, if any. If it did it sure hasn’t been reported anywhere that I’ve seen, and you’d think it would be.
The fact is that for all of Trump’s bluster and bombast, for all the tens of millions of people who voted for him, the fact is that the November 3 election, held during pandemic times, was possibly the fairest, most transparent and most successful Presidential election ever. Masses of people were willing to vote for Trump, and to turn out for his rallies, but the evidence so far indicates that the percentage of those supporters willing to go beyond that is very small.
This is a critical point when it comes to the question of “civil war.”
Is the country very divided ideologically? Yes, although there’s a definite majority of voters, 51-47%, who support a center-left orientation.
Has Trump inflamed and hardened those divisions? Yes.
Is it therefore more possible than in the past that those divisions could lead to increased physical attacks on the Left and others by ultra-rightist, armed militias? Yes, but what the new Biden/Harris administration does about them is very key. If the federal government, acting via the FBI and the Justice Department, is willing to investigate and prosecute groups doing so, similar to what was done this summer when a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was discovered, it seems to me that this will definitely tamp down the domestic terrorism threat.
But more than this is necessary. What is needed is for a Biden/Harris administration to move to seriously enact policies on a wide range of issues that clearly and unmistakably are intended to improve the lives of working class people of all races and nationalities, urban, suburban and rural. There must be a willingness to take on the billionaire class and the deep-seated economic inequality that disproportionately affects people of color but affects people of all colors and cultures. We need Green New Deal-type initiatives and just transition policies that create jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors for the currently un- and underemployed and for workers displaced from a shrinking fossil fuel industry. We need a wealth tax on the 1% and shifting money from the military budget to programs that benefit working people.
In many ways, this is the harder work, given Biden’s historic ties to transnational corporations and the influence of the 1% over the dominant forces in the Democratic Party.
The Left must work with the Biden/Harris administration, but it must also be willing to speak up and bring pressure, including public pressure via action in the streets, nonviolent direct action, hunger strikes and more for a genuine people’s program. It is not an extreme statement to say that to the extent this does not happen, to that extent will popular disillusionment grow, the Trumpublicans be given political openings and the armed rightist militias be empowered and grow.
Let’s work to support Democrats Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia January 5 as we keep building a unified, grassroots-based, issue-oriented people’s movement, the prerequisite for forward progress after our historic defeat of Trump.
Ted Glick is the author of the recently-published “Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War.” More information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick