Is America Headed Towards Civil War?

Is America Headed Towards Civil War? November 10, 2020

I’ve lived in two divided countries in my life. Once in Frankfurt, Germany while serving in the army from 1986-1989, and also in South Korea for two years while teaching English in the late 90s. Being isolated from family members and friends behind a wall of political differences is a future Americans do not want to flirt with.

Will Americans be building another wall like the Berlin Wall? / Image by Ira Gorelick from Pixabay

The German people became divided after World War II, between essentially, communism in the east and democracy in the west. They remained divided for over 40 years but began unifying around the time the Berlin wall came down in 1989. My tour in the army ended just a few months before German citizens from both sides started jackhammering this symbol of their division into chunks of concrete you can still by on E-Bay.

The Koreans have been split by their own wall on the 38th parallel for 70 years. The North Koreans live under authoritarian rule while the South Koreans enjoy life in a thriving, free democracy. In many of the conversations I had with my students they expressed sadness that their people were divided. Many of them also lived with family members who still retained memories of being separated from fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, other family members, and close friends.

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How would America be politically divided?

As it’s shaping up, very much like how Germany and Korea were divided. And if we look to the past week’s elections, it is easy to make reasonable assumptions. On the one hand, Republicans in the last four years have been supporting Trump, who by all accounts has become more authoritarian and dictatorial during his time in office. On the other side, we have everyone else who supports President-Elect Biden, whose leadership style epitomizes grassroots democracy. Which means, he seeks to lead not as a ruler, but rather in the spirit of service to his country, which requires him to compromise and work with the members of other political parties to achieve the best results for the American people.

Obviously, I have a bias towards Biden in that I value the traditional way presidents have governed during my lifetime. My bias is grounded by a strong aversion to the alternative; I do not want to serve an authoritarian president who commands my loyalty. And besides, history is clear as to poor quality of life people have who live under the thumbs of a dictator, as opposed to those who live in a thriving democracy. We have enjoyed the later for hundreds of years. We just barely escaped reverting into authoritarian rule. Fortunately, Biden won the elections, so the pendulum of government will swing back in the direction of a more traditional, democratic style of leadership.

What remains to be seen, is what percentage of Americans in the coming years will still prefer a shift toward authoritarianism over democracy.

About Scott Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is freelance writer and the author of the novel "Blind Guides and “Picking Wings Off Butterflies.” Thinkadelics is about discussing the benefits of being a freethinker with insightful tips, newsworthy posts, and in-depth features. You can read more about the author here.

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28 responses to “Is America Headed Towards Civil War?”

  1. You’ve obviously learned nothing from your experiences in life. Trump wants to shrink government. Biden wants to grow the power of government. He’s said so all along in his campaign. You are either incredibly dishonest or incredibly naive.

  2. Less government does not equal more freedom. When government regulation disappears, corporations and churches get the “freedom” to so whatever they want and people suffer.
    As I write this, the Supreme Court is trying to take healthcare away from reasonable government control and into the hands of corporations who value money over human lives.
    When environmental regulations disappear, corporations get the “freedom” to poison us.
    When the government no longer has responsibility, the control does not go away. It merely passes into the hands of another institution that does not have our best interests in mind.

  3. > Trump wants to shrink government. Biden wants to grow the power of government.

    Rubbish. Republicans always grow the government and spend like drunks. Democrats try to reduce the government and the debt. Decades of experience have proven this, starting with Reagan and Bush who blew $5 trillion and added it to the national debt.

    Study some history.

  4. Historically, that is correct. Republicans typically overspend and increase the deficit while the democrats decrease it. For a supposedly smart business man, Trump has now plunged our economy into a 3.9 T debt.

  5. I’m with you there. And I really don’t see how the size of a government matters as much as whether or not it is meeting the needs of the people and staying on budget. And as you point out, there are areas where we need governmental oversight like with healthcare and environmental issues.

  6. Yeah, lots of tyrants want to “shrink government” — by getting rid of all parts of the government that resist or obstruct the would-be tyrant’s will.

  7. Look on the bright side. Trump famously drove casinos into bankruptcy. The US came out somewhat more intact, despite his best efforts.

  8. “As it’s shaping up, very much like how Germany and Korea were divided.”
    Germany was divided by a victorious coalition who were trying to prevent it from being a menace again, and who later fell out and tried to shape their respctive dides in their own image.
    Korea was also divided by the victors in a war, further entrenched when one side trying to conquer the other, again with outside interference on both sides.
    How is either situation “very much like America”, where the split is between urban and rural areas?

    As for Tom Thumb- Germany has national health care, free college, required five weeks vacation and mandatory union presence on company boards. South Korea has lesser social benefits, but at least has national healthcare.

  9. As I see it, a civil-war-type succession is impossible without there being actual geographic boundaries between the two sides. There are “blue” enclaves (cities) in seas of “red” (rural areas). Where would the battle lines be? All I see now is lots of invective, mostly by Republicans who actually mostly won, aside from the presidency itself. Poor losers.

    If the Republicans want to secede they’ll have to do it on a state level, and I think the fastest way to do so is for “red” states and “purple” states with (currently) Republican governments to effectively outlaw the Democratic Party. How could they do that? Simple: Pass a law to which no one can reasonably object.

    “No candidate of a political party advocating murder or theft shall appear on any ballot for public office.”

    “Any” includes ballots for local, state, and national office.

    “Murder” of course would elsewhere be defined as including abortion.

    “Theft” of course would elsewhere be defined as including payments from the state treasury to individuals for welfare, or unemployment payments not adequately covered by insurance, or uninsured health care. These are all “theft” from the public purse, paying money to, or for the benefit of, individuals.

    Thus codifying anti-choice and libertarian values into black-letter law.

    This would affect no other current laws. No elected official would actually be prohibited from doing these prohibited things, just that official party platforms and associated campaigns could no longer advocate for them on pain of losing their ballot positions.

    Would this law and these definitions pass legal muster? As long as there remains an option for write-ins on ballots, I think it might. At least with the current Supreme Court makeup.

    Just a “Thought for the day.” Enjoy.

  10. As you mention, both of these countries went through an extensive processes in becoming divided nations. No one drew a line in the sand and said, “Everyone who wants to follow so-and-so and live by this form of government step across, and everyone else stay put.” The parallelism I was trying to draw was that both countries split between two forms of government. One side chose a form of democracy, freedom and inclusiveness with the rest of the world, while the other chose a more authoritarian /dictatorial form of life.

    What we are witnessing happening in America between the choices of Trump versus Biden is a similar ideological division, the type that can lead to civil war. Trump clearly has an authoritarian or dictator style of leadership which in many respects caters to inclusiveness and white, nationalistic yearnings. Biden on the other hand, is as homemade as apple pie, old-school democracy. With this post I wanted to highlight that those who support Trump, (and to some degree what the Republican party now stands for), are expressing their desire to embrace an authoritarian leader and his form of rule. As it so happens, they can look towards N. Korea or E. Germany or other countries today to ascertain if that is really they type of country they want to live in.

  11. Logistically, I think it impossible too that the country could be divided between two sides. You suggest an alternative possibility, that states could become either red or blue. On some levels this has been happening for some time. I live in the northwest in part because it’s a freethinking / liberal / artistic hub. I once lived in the Bible belt, but moved to escape the fundamentalism.

    Trump broke some norms while in office, but he also helped to expose a few holes in our democracy. He also severely weakened the cohesiveness and influence of the federal branch, which has bound Americans and states together in the “united” way we are familiar with. There used to be a certain reverence and respect most Americans had for our leaders in Washington, and the citizens and states looked to them for guidance and inspiration. Not so anymore. If they are leading by example, their example is “every man and woman for themselves”. Which translates into “every state and citizen for themselves”. So perhaps we have reached a turning point where states will become more predominately red or blue, and if you don’t like living by the rules in one state, you just move.

  12. Scott, you are from a military family and then joined the military. Me, too. For us, “just move” is an option because we’ve done it, grown from it, and are the richer for it. A cultural shock once I settled down was how many people around me who don’t have that experience just can’t conceive of moving. It breaks their brains.

    One negative for moving is losing a support system. It might not be much, but most people manage to cobble together a loose affiliation of relatives, friends, and friendly neighbors to help, particularly with children. When my oldest went to school for the first time (as opposed to daycare and preschool), what absolutely FLOORED me was how family-unfriendly the school schedule was. The kids were constantly being dismissed 2 hours early, dismissed 3 hours early, off on random days and in school during federal holidays. They were off all week for Thanksgiving and the parent-teacher meetings were during the day–no children allowed (so what do you DO with them?) PTA meetings were held at 10 am on Tuesdays. The school calendar is so profoundly unfriendly to working parents at a time when the vast majority of parents are in the workforce.

  13. It is already a civil war — a cold civil war of ideas.

    The ideas are: American Revolution (Red) vs French Revolution (Blue)

    Red = freedom, individual rights, private property, small watchkeeper government, everyone pulls his weight [s/] and voluntarily cares for those who absolutely are unable. The pursuit of happiness. Note: you have to ignore Trump the person, Trump the anomaly, to see this as the Red agenda. We are glad he is gone, and the score is 2-to-2 in Washinton.

    Blue = all the red values thrust way down — trashed — in favor of forced egalitarianism, giant government controlling the citizenry, cheapened money, forced deliberate inflation, “care” nationalized to the extent of 75% of gov spending.

    There is no Red uprising at the election of Harris/Biden, even though we are armed to the teeth (400 million registered firearms) and trained. If things were reversed, and Trump was eking out the election, the armies [s/] of the Blue would have already rioted, looted, killed, and burned their cities.

  14. I have two grandkids that are in Kindergarten and 3rd grade I would hate to be going through what their parents are right with schooling during COVID. They are both being homeschooled, except the boy in kindergarten finally gets to go to real school for a few hours a day on Thursday/Friday. School is so different now, especially compared to going in the islands! When I was in the 7th grade I had friends who I would stay with in Eva Beach. Even though I was that young, I’d catch a city bus to Highland Jr. High, which was above Pearl City.

  15. “A cold civil war of ideas” is a good way to express it.

    I would disagree with a few of the ways you characterize the values of what Red and Blue stand for, but for reasons that are tough to explain. I happen to think that most Americans share similar values, but we’ve come up with some bad labels to characterize the other party. By “we” I mean the media, politicians, and others. Take the “pursuit of happiness” which you included as a Red ideal. It’s a Blue ideal too, but each political party governs in a different way and implements different policies to establish their vision of that ideal.

    Trump is definitely and anomaly. I miss and value the Republican party of a few years back before Trump’s term. The Republicans should regroup and disavow all the “un-American” influences he has brought to the party. Democrats as well, should also treat him as an anomaly, and recognize many of the valuable policies the republicans have to offer.

    As to whether or not the Red is more inclined to violence than the Blue, I’d like to see the results of that study! Personally, like most republicans who didn’t vote for Trump, we didn’t violently appose the results of the 2016 elections. Overall, I do think democrats are more inclined to trust the voting process. We are even less inclined to believe a QAnon conspiracy theory or Trump’s attempts to destroy the legitimacy of our elections processes. So, while I would not have been happy if Trump had won reelection, I would have accepted the will of the people.

    Stealing an election, or course, would be a different matter, and one I suppose all patriotic Republicans would not condone.

  16. Scott, thanks for the civil reply….

    I’d say Blue is soft for the idea that people have the right to have happiness provided upon them, and Red knows it is not fair to make others provide it for oneself. There is a fundamental difference there, not just “a different way, different policies.”

    My claim about the two armies is not a study…I am sure you had tongue in cheek for that comment. Seriously, the Blue army has already sortied in the field to the tune of over thirty people dead, millions of dollars of destruction of property, and a climate of hateful confrontation and vicious cancelation as a norm in certain cities.

    What battles has the Red army waged this year so far? I’d say the Red Army status is: “Mr President, stand up against the looters and we will stand down, but we will always be ready and vigilant.”

    Aside: my brother and I cooked up an idea: Rand Paul and Tulsi Gabbard should resign from their respective parties and form a new one. I wouldn’t care which one became Pres and which one Vice.

  17. Scott, where in Ewa Beach did you stay?

    School is different now, in the pandemic, but it was also very, very different from what we had when my kids started school in late 1990s. The school schedule is completely illogical and hostile to working parents.

    Like you, I rode the “city bus” all over the island for a quarter. Those were the days, huh?

  18. About the only thing I remember was that it seemed like a friends place who lived in military housing. But as far as a street and address I couldn’t say. This would have been around 1971-73.

  19. Yes, I was being tongue and cheek, and when we talking generalities it helps to think of there being a red and blue army.

    Like you, I don’t condone violence, especially rioting and the destruction of property. Overall, I think most of the protesting we have seen are individuals in support of BLM, and in a more general sense, they are standing up for social injustice and racial equality. So I don’t view those who are standing up for these values as anarchists protesting American values, but rather as frustrated citizens who are trying to call attention to the fact that many forms of social injustice and inequality exist. Unfortunately, there were looters and other proponents of violence that took advantage of these protests, and tarnished their effectiveness.

    This might be an oversimplification … “I’d say Blue is soft for the idea that people have the right to have happiness provided upon them, and Red knows it is not fair to make others provide it for oneself.” But feel free to elaborate. I’m as “liberal” as a liberal can be, but I’ve worked my ass off. I expect no handouts, and I’ve never taken advantage of social safety nets. On the other hand, I have a special needs son that needs all the help he can get.

    There’s a prevailing attitude among many Americans that everyone has the same rights and opportunities to succeed and enjoy the American way of life, but nothing can be further from the truth. Until America achieves this ideal people will still feel the need to fight for it.

  20. Linda, I don’t wish to be patronizing, but you should try not to be so stressed out. Relax, I’m not your enemy. I think your mind is filled with a lot of hate, and that must be very tough to live through each day.

  21. Iroquois Point was the military housing in Ewa Beach. The base is closed now and it’s all rental property (or so I hear). We lived just off the beach.

  22. Which side has been out bullying and intimidating those that oppose there vision, which sides supporters where out looting and destroying private and public property, which side causes all this unrest it not trump supporters, but people like you can’t see past your liberal views and don’t see a world where there is a opposing view.

  23. I’d like to know what you think now after Biden has gone crazy with the executive order pen. I’m sensing buyer’s remote from folks around here.

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