States’ versus federal rights battle makes civil war scenario possible

Jordan Reid is the founding editor of Ramshackle Glam.
Liberal Opinion

Jordan Reid

Author; Founding Editor, Ramshackle Glam
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Prior to the 2016 election of Donald Trump, most Americans would have thought a second civil war an implausible scenario. Then January 6 happened, and, more recently, controversial Supreme Court and legislative decisions on abortion and gun control. Heated discussions around hot-button issues like racial equity, immigration and climate change are all further dividing a polarized nation. Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid fears a civil war is, in fact, a real possibility, and shares her reasons why:

Like many of you, I’ll never forget Election Night 2016. I put my children to bed, whispering to my two-year-old daughter, “When you wake up, you’ll discover that a woman can be anything,” and settled with my cocktail for a joyful evening, and ended up several hours later crying in the bathtub. I remember calling my parents the next day and saying to them something along the lines of “We are going to have the second Civil War,” and them saying something to the effect of “Slow your roll.” We were all upset, but we still believed that the guardrails of democracy would hold and that saying anything else was merely histrionics.

This whole “Are we actually going to have a new Civil War” question, I’m not gonna lie, it does occasionally keep me up at night. And while I may have first said it more or less so someone would say “Oh come on, things aren’t that bad,”  I can’t help but increasingly, terrifyingly, believe that it may come to pass.

In October 2020, Business Insider published a poll saying that the majority of Americans already believed we were in the midst of a  “cold” civil war. 

While the United States used to qualify as a “full democracy,” it is now considered a “partial democracy” along the lines of Somalia or Haiti. That said, most of the entities calling for civil war are private entities with limited power, not public ones with the ability to compel citizens to do their will.

The conflict is also less between states than within them — specifically, between metropolitan areas, which tend to go blue, and more rural populations, which are overwhelmingly red. Government officials remain in a position to penalize citizens who engage for anti-democracy acts. This isn’t a fun topic but on the pro-side, a second Civil War likely won’t look how we imagine. On the con-side, a second Civil War likely won’t look how we imagine.

Like many of you, I’ll never forget Election Night 2016. I put my children to bed, whispering to my two-year-old daughter “When you wake up, you’ll discover that a woman can be anything” and settled with my cocktail for a joyful evening…and ended up several hours later crying in the bathtub. I remember calling my parents the next day and saying to them something along the lines of “We are going to have the second Civil War,” and them saying something to the effect of “Slow your roll.” We were all upset, but we still believed that the guardrails of democracy would hold. And that saying anything else was merely histrionics.

This whole “are we actually going to have a new Civil War” question, I’m not gonna lie, it does occasionally keep me up at night. And while I may have first said it more or less so someone would say “Oh come on, things aren’t that bad” – I can’t help but increasingly, terrifyingly, believe that it may come to pass.

In October 2020, Business Insider published a poll saying that the majority of Americans already believed we were in the midst of a  “cold” Civil War. 

Last fall, the University of Virginia Center for Politics released a poll finding that a majority of people who had voted to reelect  Donald Trump in 2020 now wanted their state to secede from the Union, and also found that a whopping 41% of those who had voted for Joe Biden agreed with the statement that it might be time to “split the country.” 

Now, to be clear, I don’t think we’re going back to the 1860s, with citizens grabbing their muskets and running out to defend their country, but the recent overturning of Roe V. Wade shows just how deeply the problem of states’ rights versus federal rights runs in this country. 

We are already seeing states pass legislation with major implications within their own borders that differs wildly from that passed in neighboring states, and the toxic political atmosphere that has been stirred up in the past few years has only made that idea of extreme measure more palatable. 

Oh, right. And as of right now, there are 393 million guns in civilian possession in the United States, and private militia groups are flourishing. 

While the United States used to qualify as a “full democracy,” it is now considered a “partial democracy” along the lines of Somalia or Haiti.  

That said, most of the entities calling for civil war are private entities with limited power, not public ones with the ability to compel citizens to do their will

The conflict is also less between states than within them – specifically, between metropolitan areas, which tend to go blue, and more rural populations, which are overwhelmingly red. 

Government officials remain in a position to penalize citizens who engage for anti-democracy acts. This isn’t a fun topic but On the pro side, a second Civil War likely won’t look how we imagine. On the con side…a second Civil War likely won’t look how we imagine.


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