One Friday night about a month ago, I sat down to write out 10 reasons why I thought the United States was headed towards a domestic conflict. My goal was to flesh out some ideas that many of us have considered intuitively, but provide some research and structured thinking to them. I got to the fifth reason and realized that it was an exercise in futility because I didn’t need 10 reasons. You likely don’t, either.
Demographically, culturally, fiscally, we’re hemorrhaging as a country. Studies show that most immigrants, legal or illegal, have a political predilection towards larger, more authoritarian government. They do or will vote Democrat. That’s why amnesty is the death knell for the right-leaning electorate. And amnesty is only a matter of time, which means the GOP as a nationally viable party could have an expiration date within your lifetime. Several states, including Texas, were decided by fewer votes than those states have illegal immigrants. Amnesty pushes those states blue, which then push a far Left agenda in a Democrat-controlled Congress. That writing is on the wall.
Without amnesty, studies show that larger percentages and greater numbers of future generations are slightly or consistently liberal. Millennials are the least white voting generation on record; Generation Z is less white than Millennials, and these two groups are or would vote for Leftist populists (like Bernie Sanders) in far greater numbers than previous generations. If we look at political leanings by generation (graph below), we can see the decline in percentage of those mostly or consistently conservative. (Look at each generation in 2017, for instance.) The opposite is also true: the Baby Boomer generation in 2017 had a greater percentage of mostly or consistently liberal than the Silent Generation; Generation X had a higher percentage than the Baby Boomers; and the Millennial generation has a higher percentage than Generation X. Each generation is becoming more liberal due wholly to immigration. Because immigration is little more than importing future Democrat voters, I don’t see how the GOP hangs on to anything outside of regional power without a cultural resurgence (like Reagan, for instance).
This is the bloodless coup that makes the revolution possible. The Left couldn’t seize power any other way.
We hear that Generation Z is the more conservative than the Millennial generation. If true, that trend is largely driven by whites. Generation Z is the most diverse generation on record; nearly half are minorities. Given voting patterns among minorities — and I’ll be happily wrong — I remain skeptical that Generation Z will be the conservative savior voting class in another decade.
Fiscally, for all their gnashing of teeth, President Trump and the Republican Congress are being just as reckless in their spending as their predecessors. We’ll have a trillion dollar deficit this year, followed by a recession around 2020 which is likely to rival 2008. Many Americans are going to be out of work again; unhappy again, needy again, and looking for answers. We know from history that high youth unemployment is a recipe that increases the likelihood of civil unrest, at a minimum. These are economic conditions with social consequences; namely more reason to be unhappy with the way things are, or will be.
This is not a prediction of “the end of the world as we know it” but a prediction of some very turbulent times ahead which may be a few short years away.
Given the gift of hindsight, we understand that the pendulum swings — left to right and back again — almost like clockwork. Sometimes it swings farther than we’d like, but there seems to always be another election cycle around the corner. But history shows that all political systems are eventually disrupted, and so the question that Americans have before them is What happens when the pendulum stops swinging?
America is no stranger to political conflict, violent or otherwise, although we have certainly seen darker days. There have been local rebellions, small wars, strikes, riots, and massacres in virtually every decade of the 20th century. The Long Hot Summer of 1967 alone had riots in 159 cities — the late 1960s may be the most violent period, domestically, in the past hundred years. The 2010s so far have been a turbulent decade, yet domestic political and cultural unrest have not erupted into sustained violence that pushes us past irrevocable conflict. Political and social violence will always be a part of America, until America exists only in history books. As is the way of all empires, America, too, will end one day.
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Historian Victor Davis Hanson last year opined on the collapse of America and the multicultural conflict that’s brewing. He wrote at National Review:
History is not very kind to multicultural chaos — as opposed to a multiracial society united by a single national culture. The fates of Rwanda, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia should remind us of our present disastrous trajectory.
Either the United States will return to a shared single language and allegiance to a common and singular culture, or it will eventually descend into clannish violence.
With that, here’s where I stopped with my five reasons.
- When Americans believe the ‘Social Contract’ is failing them, they seek to revise or leave it. The Social Contract states that citizens give up some power to the state so that the state can enforce law and order. This is the foundation of “liberal democracies”, whereby the people give legitimacy and authority to the government in exchange for some security. This is not a referendum on the merits of the social contract, however, what we’re seeing is a “contract” under some duress. When terms of the contract can’t be revised through politically-engaged social movements, it’s changed through violence. We can observe this in the lead up to the American Revolution (e.g., “no taxation without representation”) and again concerning States’ Rights prior to the secession of the South (e.g., Lincoln’s election despite not carrying a single Southern state). More recently, the Obama administration was radical. It heavily favored international interests at the expense of the nation; it weaponized neo-liberal policies against traditional America. Obama ‘fundamentally transformed’ the terms of the social contract, and Americans, through the election of Donald J. Trump, showed their desire to have the social contract reformed. At some point in the near future, some Americans may find the current social contract so intolerable — or consider the prospects of changing the terms through politics so unfeasible — that they decide to fight over it.
- As America becomes ungovernable, it will split into governable factions. One concept I’ve talked about before is that of exponential difficulty in governance. In 1790, America had just under four million citizens, or about 153,846 citizens per Senator and 61,538 citizens per Representative. In 2018, there are 3.2 million citizens per Senator and 737,931 citizens per Representative (based on an estimated 321,000,000 citizens). As the nation has grown, we’ve become more poorly represented. This is a large dilution of representation (especially considering that the interests of so many non-citizens are represented so widely). Similarly, government has grown exponentially, but our representatives’ ability to govern has not kept exponential pace. This means that as the nation grows more complex, it also becomes more ungovernable. As Johns Hopkins professor Michael Vlahos describes it, recent political events represent an “existential shift” in the nation. Let’s look at two specific cases. In 2011, the Texas state legislature considered passing a bill that would outlaw patdowns by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents in Texas airports — open defiance to federal laws. That move triggered federal authorities so badly that the Department of Justice threatened that the TSA would be forced to ban all flights out of Texas if the bill were passed. “Either Texas backs off and continues to let government employees fondle innocent women, children and men as a condition of travel, or the TSA will cancel Texas flights,” one Texas legislator summarized. When Texas was put to the test, the state decided that it was governable after all. Now let’s look at California’s sanctuary state situation. California is being openly ungovernable over federal immigration laws, and its state authorities cannot be made to enforce federal laws. If this is the hill that California is willing to die on, then they’re going to have their chance. Should they remain defiant and the Department of Justice is unable to end that defiance of federal law, then we could see other states follow over this and other matters. Secession is being floated as an alternative. Imagine what red states will do when faced with an indefinite, and perhaps permanent, period of Democratic rule after amnesty gets passed.
- As Americans move father apart politically and ideologically, they will likely favor alternatives to the ‘united’ states. Twenty-three years ago, Pew Polling began asking a series of questions aimed at measuring the political sentiment of the nation. As of 2017, their study shows a widening ideological gap among several key factors. In fact, in the past 23 years of polling, these gaps have never been wider. According to Pew, “the average partisan gap [on all issues] has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points.” And Pew also notes that the percentage of democrats and republicans who view the other party unfavorably has also grown — in fact, it’s more than doubled since 1994. Nearly half of all participants viewed the opposition party as unfavorably. Ultimately, this study shows that more Americans are moving either further left or further right on most issues. This is probably why, in recent years, more publications have focused on both amicable and violent separation in America.
- Societies collapse when decisions beneficial for elites in the short term are bad for the people in the long term. Anthropologist, environmental icon, and UCLA professor Jared Diamond made an observation in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed that societies (in this case, empires) can collapse for a number of reasons. Diamond argues that when elites make poor decisions — especially so when those elites are insulated from the consequences of their poor decisions — they create fault lines that lead to future instability and collapse. Diamond calls this a “blueprint for disaster”, yet this is exactly what Americans have observed of their politicians for decades. (Here’s a report entitled, “LAWS THAT DO NOT APPLY TO CONGRESS” which appears to be published by the Democrat-led House Rules Committee. It clearly shows a laundry list of laws that apply to the public, but not to Congress. This is how Congress insulates themselves from their own poor decisions, ensuring poor decisions in the future which will inevitably lead to collapse.) Furthermore, our four to six year political cycles ensure that every politician focuses on short term popularity (i.e. re-election) in favor of ensuring long term national success. This incentivizes the electorate to support what Bastiat called Legal Plunder — government theft against one class in order to support another class. (“As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes.” – The Law, 1850) This system of short term decision making and the use of government as a blunt force instrument against political enemies will continue indefinitely until brought to an end, which leads to my next point.
- Eventually, government will grow so powerful that one political party is likely to not give up power. This is what conservatives widely feared under the Obama administration, and it’s what liberals fear under the Trump administration. It’s what each political party is likely to fear during every administration past this juncture, and eventually one will finally be correct. It was my fear that the Obama administration had created such a powerful executive branch that he would not be willing to give it up to a Republican. Whether through an incompetent conspiracy (now being revealed through revelations that Obama-era apparatchiks planned and supported a soft coup against President-elect Trump) or the sheer will of the American electorate, the neo-liberal power structure couldn’t hang on. Maybe this is a lesson that another administration will take to heart as it go to greater lengths to ensure partisan succession in a future presidential election. Through the growth of government, it bears to reason that every successive president wields more and more power, until eventually one is no longer willing to allow his political opponent to use that power against his party. When liberals accused Bush of ushering in a dictatorship, I didn’t think they were that far off base, considering the effects of the Patriot Act and domestic surveillance (and how easily that could lead to a dictatorship), followed by the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and I’m a veteran of both). When conservatives accused Obama of ushering in a dictatorship, I didn’t think they were far off base, either. But now after all the hand-wringing and accusations of Trump ushering in a dictatorship, I wonder just how long it will be until a future president seizes the reigns and actually becomes a dictator. The key assumption is that the power of the executive will grow to represent a point of no return, at which point no one wants to give up Frodo’s ring. And that’s when we’re going to have a major domestic conflict, either top-down or bottom-up in nature.
There are assuredly other reasons to believe that conflict could happen at some point. We haven’t mentioned the potential for a black swan event, such as a political assassination, a terror attack, a world war, a cyber attack, or any other case of systems disruption; a “national emergency” where a president could invoke war time powers and wreak havoc on the peaceful transfer of power.
For me, these are enough reasons to establish that conflict is at the end of our trajectory. It could be two years, or it could be twenty, but we’re already seeing a low grade domestic conflict marked by sporadic political violence. And we know that things could certainly get much worse. Given what’s likely to occur in the future, is there any reason to believe that the social climate in America improves? I don’t.
Always Out Front,
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