I posted an intentionally provocative question to Facebook and Twitter yesterday: “Honest question… If an actual communist, such as Bernie Sanders, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, became President, would you be willing to take arms to oppose them?”
I don’t have much of a presence on Twitter as of yet, so I had virtually no response, but I got a fair amount of feedback on Facebook. My mother told me I’d descended into a dangerous realm of right-wing extremism, a number of extreme-leftists debated whether or not Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are communists, some other leftists defended communism, and most of the conservatives who answered gave a version of either ‘maybe,’ or ‘not just because they were elected, but I’d watch what they did very closely’, which to me is another form of ‘maybe’.
I was not advocating for civil war, but civil war has been in the news a great deal lately, on both the left and the right. I’ve recently written both about communism (satirically), and about how the lack of a legitimate civil discourse, is making civil war possible. To be blunt, the question came up – so I asked it.
How rational is this question, to ask, in America today? It is rational enough that I am not alone. Here is the New Yorker, asking the same question: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war. Here is the LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-walker-second-civil-war-20170820-story.html. Here is The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/22/american-politics-civil-war-alt-right-left-wing. Here is The Nation: https://www.thenation.com/article/are-we-on-the-verge-of-another-civil-war/. Here is Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-susan-k-smith/the-coming-of-americas-civil-war_b_9501120.html.
I could list articles all day long, in which the media, on both sides of the political aisle, is asking the same thing I asked – are we heading to a civil war, and if so, what trigger will kick it off?
Much of the left is already in a civil war (albeit without guns). We have never been more politically opposed than we are today, at least in my lifetime, and I’m not convinced that we are less politically opposed today than we were, as a nation, in 1860. The only real difference today is that, were there a civil war, the battle lines are harder to draw.
But even then.. California would be on one side, along with New York, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and probably a half-dozen states along the North-Eastern seaboard. The South, and most of the West (though not the coast) would be on the other side. Less than half the states in the country would be split.
When more than half of the country, geographically speaking, can be easily put into one camp or the other, there is absolutely no political discourse left between the left and the right, and much of the left is already essentially engaged in a civil war (without guns) against the President, isn’t it fair to ask what might spark an actual fight?
We know the answer on the left. If Trump is re-elected, I have no doubt we’ll see bloodshed. How much bloodshed we’ll see is up for grabs, but I do not see the radical left putting up peacefully with another four years.
I don’t know what the answer on the right is. What point is ‘too far’ for conservatives? I have a sneaky suspicion that it would have something to do with communism, and anyone who has heard Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ interview on SXSW knows that she has taken the gloves off. I listened to the whole one hour and twenty minutes of it, and she was unapologetically coming out as a communist.
Bernie is more complicated. Bernie has never actually called himself a communist (nor been as open about his policies as AOC has been), but he did honeymoon in the Soviet Union, did advocate making the United States follow the Soviet Union’s lead, did call breadlines good, and has said things that indicate support for central planning. He is also a fervent supporter of AOC, and now that she has outed herself, I’m calling him out too.
They are communists, and in the case of AOC, unapologetically so. And Bernie is the early front-runner to be the DNC nominee.
Communism is a revolutionary idea, and is completely incompatible with the United States Constitution. It should not be possible to press for communism, in the United States, given that elected officials have to swear an oath to defend the Constitution, but that does not stop people from swearing to defend the Constitution, even when their intent is to either make it go away, or to just ignore it, and though someone like Bernie Sanders could be impeached for violating his oath of office, there is no political will to remove anyone just for violating a document half the country wishes did not exist.
The notion that the rise of socialism in the United States, particularly as it begins to take a political turn to actual communism, might cause a violent response from the right, seems obvious.
My mother’s shock and horror at my seemingly extreme question isn’t entirely misguided, either. We should all be shocked, and horrified, that we live in a country, today, where such a question is rational to ask. I’m not crazy, but the state of our nation is, and unless we talk about it, it’s only going to get worse.