Nobody wants what’s coming, so nobody wants to see what’s coming.
On the eve of the first civil war, the most intelligent, the most informed, the most dedicated people in the United States could not see it coming. Even when Confederate soldiers began their bombardment of Fort Sumter, nobody believed that conflict was inevitable. The north was so unprepared for the war they had no weapons.
The consequences of the breakdown of the American system are only now beginning to be felt. January 6, 2001, wasn’t a wake-up call; it was a rallying cry. The Capitol police have seen threats against members of Congress increase by 107%. Fred Upton, Republican representative from Michigan, recently shared a message he had received: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your family dies.” And it’s not just politicians, but anyone involved in the running of the electoral system. Death threats have become a standard aspect of the work-life of election supervisors and school board members. A third of poll workers, in the aftermath of 2020, said they felt unsafe.
An incipient illegitimacy crisis is underway, whoever is elected in 2022, or in 2024. According to a University of Virginia analysis of census projections, by 2040, 30% of the population will control 68% of the Senate. Eight states will contain half the population. The Senate malapportionment gives advantages overwhelmingly to white, non– college-educated voters. In the near future, a Democratic candidate could win the popular vote by many millions of votes and still lose. Do the maths: the federal system no longer represents the will of the American people.
The right has recognised what the left has not: that the system is in collapse. The right has a plan: it involves violence and solidarity. They have not abjured even the Oath Keepers. The left, meanwhile, has chosen infighting as their sport.
- Stephen Marche is the author of , and, forthcoming, . He writes a column for as well as regular features and opinion pieces for , and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenMarche