I dropped a post over at Francis’s place today. Give it a read!
Election night looms before us. Four years ago, we had the Hail Mary pass of all Hail Mary passes. At the time, I thought that America had reached peak divisiveness. Years of Social Justice crusades across the Internet lost steam. Salty tears flowed from the Bluechecks like a flood of Biblical proportions. But what truly happened? Was this a fluke? Was it the last gasp of old America? Tonight is when we will learn that. All your base are belong to Trump, indeed (and this may have been my finest meme-making work):
Once is an accident. Twice is a pattern. Tonight will tell us which it really was.
Events did not deliver the change we sought in 2016. I can’t blame Trump for that, as much as I’d like to. A media and pop culture establishment fused with Woke Corportatism to become some kind of Frankenstein’s political monster. Trump’s attention span – such that it is – was spent fighting that monstrosity almost every day. Oh, we had our share of wins. We got our judges – and should we fail tonight, well, that is the last roadblock we have left. That’s not nothing.
But now we are on the verge of Civil War, or something akin to it. I’ve never seen divisiveness of this sort in my country in my entire lifetime. We’ve gone from the occasional beatdown in a protest, to burning neighborhoods and roving gun battles in the streets. Perhaps the political Rubicon has been crossed and it’s too late, no matter who wins. Political rage is everywhere.
The polls would tell us to have no hope. Even FiveThirtyEight gives Biden an 89% chance of victory, compared to 2016 where Nate at least offered a 1 in 3 chance for Trump. Are the polls completely wrong? The possibility is very strong, in my opinion. With the emotional charge of politics today, in the middle of what may be a major political realignment, how can a pollster even account for all of the variables? How can the pollster be more accurate than a flip of the coin under these circumstances? The statistical models of the past may have worked in a pre-divisive environment, but I highly suspect everything is off, now. Of course, tonight will tell us that, too.
Statespoll tries to compensate for these factors as best they can with their modeling. They believe Trump is likely to win. But it’s unclear to me that this is any more likely to be right than Nate Silver. A coin flip may be a better prognosticator than any of them.
2020 has tested the fabric of America in a way, in my opinion, even the 1960s did not. In some ways, Kurt Schlichter’s split of America scenario may be overly optimistic compared to what lies before us.
Before 2016, I had many Lefty friends – perhaps more than Rightist ones. After all, as a DJ and a software developer working in the city, my environment has been one of perpetual Leftism, to the point that I started this blog primarily as a way to express things I could no longer say to people I cared about – and still expect to keep the peace. That reason has largely evaporated. Most of them are long gone, now. Denouncing me one at a time as a hater, bigot, Nazi, or whatever. Of the few that remain, most of the time we dance around the subject entirely. They know what I am, and I know what they are, but we pretend we do not know. It’s a shallow way to live, but I take pride in the fact that I never told them to get lost, or pushed them away.
Always it comes from their side, not mine.
Will that continue? Perhaps with me. I am not built in such a way as to tell people in my life to fuck off due to their politics, and that is, in some ways, a weakness. Though of late I have stopped talking to them and kept my distance in the hopes that, perhaps, sanity will return. But will that continue with the rest? A thousand events all across the country, from Kenosha to the Biden Bus incident show that Rightists are becoming as hostile in turn as Leftists have been these last few years. I can’t fault them. One of the prevalent themes in Tom Kratman’s books is the notion that your enemy will learn from your actions. He will become like you. If you do something to him, he will learn, and do it to you in turn. I don’t like these things that are happening, just as I would not want to do some horrible thing even to an enemy. If the enemy does it first, however, you must do it, or something of equal or greater magnitude, in turn. Otherwise he will never learn.
Otherwise you become the chump hitting “Keep Faith” every time your opponent hits “Betray”. Perhaps Betraying in turn will teach him a lesson, or perhaps not, but at least you’ll be even in the latter case.
If you believe this is an American phenomenon alone – and I doubt many of my readers do – take note of the fact that Chile may need to bring back Augusto Pinochet after this business:
Vox freely admits that Pinochet’s reforms brought prosperity and economic growth to Chile. Are they going to throw that all away for Venezuela-level equality? It’s hard to tell, I don’t trust anything the media spouts these days. But if so, I wonder if Chile has another Pinochet. If the choice is to let your country fall to Socialism and have mountains of dead bodies, or throw a couple thousand Communists out of helicopters, well, is that really a difficult choice?
I prefer freedom over any of that, this goes without saying. But if politics has taken freedom completely off the table, and the only options are your boot stomping on my face, or my boot stomping on yours, what choice do you really expect me to make? Leftists think Trump is a dictator. They wouldn’t know a dictator until he put them in front of the firing squad. Trump isn’t even remotely close. As far as I know, he has killed zero Communists. But as the old saying goes: play stupid games, win stupid prizes. If you WANT a military coup and dictatorship, scapegoating roundabout 50% of the American population – the ARMED 50% – is a pretty good way to risk ending up with one.
If Trump wins tonight, I fully expect a meltdown of near-Biblical proportions. If Biden wins, well, the news outlets saying this would be the less violent option may prove to be right in the immediate short term. In the long run, a Kamala Harris shadow presidency is, in my opinion, as likely as not to end up in a Kurt Schlichter scenario, and ultimately may prove worse on the violence and stupidity scale.
Either way, I still hope Trump pulls it out. If we can manage a few more years of relative prosperity, maybe my own family will be better insulated against the shitstorm I think is waiting for this country in the coming years. I hate that we’ve ended up here, with a country full of people denouncing their neighbors as Trump supporters, throwing away friendships, family, marriages, and careers over this. But I have no control over events. None of us do.
We’re all passengers on the Titanic. Some of us are even shouting to the crew that there’s an iceberg ahead.
Nobody seems willing to turn the wheel.
And it might be too late to do anything about it anyway, now.
May God be with you, my friends.
Many of my readers will remember an incident back in 2017, where a Right-wing protest and a Left-wing protest confronted one another in Berkeley and the “Based Stick Man” (Kyle Chapman) broke his stick over the head of a Lefty antagonist. At the time, this was so notable it became a meme. Gifs of the moment the stick broke on the Lefty’s head became associated with Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy VII Limit Breaks, and other such things. Eventually a graphic novel of the event was even proposed.
In other words, this was a notable event. It was different enough from the norm of political discourse in the country to receive national attention.
Today, there are probably several stickmen hitting people over the head at political protests and rallies every week. The Frog has been slow-boiling these past three years. Achieving notability today means pulling an AR-15 and a handgun out on a mob breaking into your neighborhood, or killing two antagonists and wounding another as happened in Kenosha, or getting shot by a ‘security guard’ after some kind of argument at a protest.
Neighborhoods burn, naked women display their genitals at the cops, people fight in the streets, and we have the occasional open gun battle making its appearance. Hitting someone with a stick is nothing, now. From 2016 to 2020 we’ve gone from relatively normal protests and rallies, to dead bodies rapidly becoming expected in protests increasingly degenerating into street fighting. At this rate, a Beer Hall Putsch from the Left should Trump win wouldn’t even faze me. I more or less expect that it is more likely than not in the event of a Trump victory in the election.
In the last few years, the entire tone of political interaction in America has been poisoned. I remember the days where I could have have political discussion with Leftist friends, and they might disagree with most of what I said, but it was not a particularly big deal. The very same people are now posting things like “if you don’t believe systemic racism is the greatest problem facing America, don’t even talk to me! This is not up for debate!” Or another one: “it’s okay to disagree about favorite pizza toppings, but not over support for Black Lives Matter!”
Political opinions have been elevated to “fact” status by the political tribes. So if my opinion on universal healthcare differs from a Leftist’s opinion, I must be wrong, because it’s a fact that universal healthcare is superior. It’s not up for debate. Socialism is superior to Capitalism. Not up for debate. Trump is a racist. Not up for debate. The illegal immigrants being held until they can be returned to their countries of origin is the exact same thing as concentration camps, this is a fact not up for debate, and this means that Trump is Hitler.
Again, not up for debate.
The moral surety of the political tribes is what disturbs me the most. It is one thing to say “I think X is more likely to be true than Y” and act accordingly. It is quite another matter to say “X is definitely better than Y, and any disagreement means you are evil, and I have moral license to do whatever I want to force your obedience.”
Some people blame the political poison on Trump, and this might have carried water if the behavior originated with the MAGA tribe. It largely, however, originated with the political Left in recent years. It’s to the point that the Washington Post ran a piece about how only a Biden landslide victory could stave off the political violence. It was an implicit admission that if the Left doesn’t get their way, they will burn it all down (or at least threaten to). What is also implicit in this is that the political Right is starting to respond in kind (and the Kenosha shootings are tacit evidence that this worm is turning).
Now, I am cautious of using any one single graph as gospel. But this is nonetheless an interesting datapoint:
The trend here is worrisome. The Kenosha videos were fascinating in that if you listen closely, it sounds like there are other shooters other than Kyle Rittenhouse. No one else was shot aside from those involved with Rittenhouse, of course, but it was interesting that we had a city burning and some kind of roving gun battle in the streets. I mentioned earlier that this was the crossing of a political Rubicon. Protests haven become street brawls (Based Stickman gives us a rough timeline of when this began). And street brawls are starting to mutate into open war (Kenosha). Kyle Rittenhouse may be similar to Based Stickman in that he marks a point of departure, where history can say “this is when things really went off the rails”.
From 2016 to 2020, we went from large-scale (but mostly peaceful) protesting to street brawls and gun violence. Where will we be in 2024? When will the frog jump out of the pot? The whole tone and emotional tenor of political discourse has radically shifted.
America is heading rapidly toward something like Civil War (albeit nothing like the previous one). I see no signs that it will diminish, no matter who is elected in November. Trends continue until they don’t. We don’t know where the inflection point will be, or what it will look like. Tomorrow this could all calm down, though I don’t think it is very likely. But if the trend holds, America is in for some seriously dark times.
Keep your ammo dry, my friends. There’s a non-trivial chance you’re going to need it soon. The Culture War is starting to turn into something much worse.
The riots have, in this blogger’s opinion, crossed a Rubicon into what might escalate into something resembling a Civil War. Yes, people say “the war is coming” with relative frequency in Right-wing circles, and up until now, said war has not come.
But look at this video and tell me that things have not changed:
For reference – because the video is muddled a bit – I will narrate what happened as best I can tell from the various videos and pictures I’ve seen. The guy on the ground with the rifle was assaulted by a guy with a skateboard, and another man with a handgun (see picture of his mangled arm and handgun here). Rifle-guy shot both. Skateboard-guy died of a chest wound, and handgun-guy had a fair chunk of his arm blown off, and ran to the police for protection. The irony of that last point should be lost on exactly no one.
A gun battle in the streets followed. Watch the whole video.
Elsewhere, another gun battle occurred at a used car dealership, in which one person was shot in the head and killed: see video here. One gun battle in the streets we might write off. Two? It’s getting a lot more difficult.
Roving gun battles in the streets between political factions is an escalation we have not seen since at least the 60s, and even then, there is, IMHO, a palpable difference. The rioters, while having some centralized targets like police stations and courthouses (which have been the targets of a ‘siege’ of sorts in Portland), are also engaging completely random targets like used car dealerships, which have nothing to do with any political motivation, save that they are there. Back in the 60s – at least from what I know of it – you had more of a counter-culture vs Establishment mindset. And while there is some of that here, there’s also a lot of essentially random looting, violence, arson, and otherwise that has no real justification – and it’s everywhere. We had it in my hometown. Any sizable city in America has probably experienced at least some of it.
We have random diners accosted in various locales, told to join the rioters in a fist salute to Black Lives Matter, or be surrounded by an angry, threatening, screaming mob. Black Lives Matter protesters roam through suburban neighborhoods demanding that homeowners give up their homes and property to the mob. Remind me just who are the fascists here?
It seems to me that we might have crossed the Rubicon, and Civil War, or something akin to it may be inevitable at this point. If true, I don’t imagine the conflict would be anything like the first war between the states – the geographic and demographic issues are more urban vs. rural than they are North vs. South. Let’s posit for a moment that Trump wins reelection. Does anybody think the violence will lessen if that eventuality happens?
What is Biden wins? I wonder if we might see an escalation there, too – some kind of emboldened strategy for revenge on the Trumpites. But of the two options, Biden probably represents less violence in the very near term – with potential for things to get more ugly should the Democrats attempt some kind of political crackdown on the Right (a possibility I think is very likely).
In any event, one blog I follow has a running “minutes to midnight” style summary of where we are on the Civil War clock. And we’re in stage 9… out of 10. With 10 being open warfare. At least according to his barometer, anyway. I don’t think he’s wrong, and if anything things have gotten worse since he wrote the last post.
Did we cross the Rubicon over the last few days? Only history will tell us for certain. But me? I think it’s very likely that we just did.
Keep your ammo dry.
Had a little fun with these…