The debate over whether a second civil war might break out in America is over, because the Republican National Committee has officially declared it.
Meeting in Salt Lake City Thursday, the Republican National Committee passed overwhelmingly, and without public discussion, a resolution decrying “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” in the January 6, 2021 sack of the U.S. Capitol. This was by way of condemning Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for joining the Congressional committee investigating the almost successful coup attempt. RNC Chairwoman (and Senator Mitt Romney’s niece) Ronna McDaniel later “issued a statement saying that she meant only to refer to those not involved in violence at the Capitol,” but this contradicts the plain words of the text and is anyway a distinction without a difference, as the January 6 investigators are pursuing those who attempted to overthrow the U.S. government, a violent enterprise by its very nature, whether or not the plotters personally got their hands dirty attempting to lynch the Vice President and members of Congress.
As I and others have already pointed out, the GOP has already in effect become exactly like foreign terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the IRA, in that it has a “political wing” that engages in so-called legitimate political discourse, and an “armed wing” that murders and spreads terror; in this case, the hundreds of heavily armed “militias” (fascist paramilitary formations) that have been proliferating since the 1990s, and which “mainstream” Republicans have long vocally defended. Thursday’s RNC resolution formalizes this structure: the January 6 “patriot” stormtroopers with their gallows and their trousers pulled down to take a dump in the Capitol are recognized, valued members of the Party.
One immediate implication of this development is that it no longer matters what happens with Trump, at least in terms of the broader sweep of events. He can run in ’24, or not. He can be indicted and arrested (in which case, he has already told his supporters, they should storm the Bastille and free him), or he can continue to enjoy the fruits of his countless crimes unmolested. He can have an aneurysm on the golf course tomorrow (in which case, millions will believe that Deep State Democrats assassinated him, further inflaming their rage against other Americans), or live on another ten or twenty years. It is irrelevant, because the official position of the Republican Party is that they alone are the legitimate rulers of the country, and if they are temporarily out of power, the “patriots” of their military wing are well within their rights to retake power by force. This means a second American civil war has already begun, just as the first American civil war began long before the first casualty at the Battle of Bull Run, and before the firing on Fort Sumter, with the “secession” of the Southern states. The two conflicts don’t much resemble each other; we won’t see opposing, uniformed armies clashing on a formal battlefield, but rather a chaotic shambles as in Iraq, Syria, or Somalia.
According to the new book How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them by political scientist Barbara Walter, experts in that field of study currently judge a country to be in a state of civil war if at least one thousand people are killed each year in political violence. It no longer even qualifies as much of a prediction to say that violence on that scale, or larger, is quite likely this year, or the next, in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.