With racial tensions, inequality, and populist rage set to boil over, some fear America could be on the path to a violent confrontation between the angry Trumpies and the equally angry lefties. Before we decide to start this war, we must ask: who would win?
As police shootings and street protests stoke a national climate already heated by xenophobia, terror attacks, and the unexpected success of an anti-everything brand of politics not seen in generations, many have compared 2016 to 1968, a year marked by assassinations, riots, and questions about the continued success of the American experiment. It is still early, though. By the time this is all over we may be more inclined to compare 2016 to 1860, when half of America got so pissed at the other half that a bloody civil war ensued.
This, of course, is the worst case scenario. But it’s always good to plan ahead.
On the Right: Low-income white workers who were on the losing end of globalization and have become convinced that immigrants and non-white people are to blame; Billionaires; White nationalists; Angry grandpas; Fearful grandmas; Survivalists; Fox News viewers; “Car guys”; Inveterate racists who have no excuse.
On the Left: Black Lives Matter activists; Bernie Sanders voters; Aging hippies; College students and professors; Legal and illegal immigrants of all nationalities; Occupy-style perma-activists; Confused self-identified pacifists.
On the Right: They own more guns. They may also be able to claim a higher percentage of military veterans and law enforcement officers in their ranks. They are more willing to blindly follow a charismatic leader into battle, leading to a more coherent fighting force. They watch a lot of UFC. They carry the revolutionary zeal of notable groups like the Confederacy and the Nazi Party.
On the Left: They have a higher average education level, which could be useful for designing bombs and crafty booby traps. They have a younger average age, making them more physically fit on average. They carry the revolutionary zeal of notable groups like the Maoists and the Khmer Rouge.
On the Right: High proportion of elderly crackpots could hold back fighting units when traveling for speed and distance. High proportion of rural residents could be a drawback in urban battles, when skills like navigating sidewalks and subways are necessary. Anti-intellectual tendencies could result in hostility towards “outside the box” guerilla tactics. Affinity for Donald Trump holds no combat value whatsoever.
On the Left: Widespread lack of military or contact sport experience could lead to panic in the ranks when the violence begins. High proportion of urban residents could be a drawback in rural battles, when skills like living off the land or not being scared of bugs are necessary. Reggae music is an ineffective pre-war motivational tool.
On the Right: Mass shootings. Head-on assaults on mosques, quinceanera parties, and college dorms. Lots of gunfire, everywhere. Occasional arson of libraries (they haven’t figured out the internet stuff yet).
On the Left: Guerilla warfare. Elaborate ruses designed to entrap jeeps full of enemies into concealed pits. Hit-and-run attacks on churches, VFW halls, and high-rise office buildings. Lots of Molotov cocktails, homemade spears, and gunfire that is somewhat sporadic due to relatively low gun ownership in this fighting cohort.
The Left’s purist ideology and youthful vigor will inevitably wane under the withering fire of The Right’s mob-like bloodlust and superior weaponry. The inevitable ugliness of the conflict will tend to erode the morale on The Left, where philosophical approval of violence is mixed at best, whereas the religious and racial zealots of The Right will only grow more emboldened, easily integrating this new war into their longstanding intellectual framework of patriotic genocide of The Other. We can expect that the next civil war, like the last one, would be explosive, bloody, and long. But we can’t expect that the good guys would win this time around. In the final calculus, The Left is better off parlaying its domination of the media into social victories that can be leveraged for peaceful political gain. It’s the only real choice, unless we all want to get massacred.
Now what we need to do is take away their guns...