Our Second Civil War | Opinion

This country is at war with itself. The last few decades laid the groundwork for our accelerating polarization and tribalization, and now, America's political Left and Right no longer share much, if any, common ground. The question today is whether this can end without open conflict. Hopefully it can, but it's far from certain.

I wrote Winning the Second Civil War: Without Firing a Shot last year to avert the possibility of escalating political violence. Without a viable chance of a truce—and after months of violent unrest by the political Left in America's major cities—both sides seemed increasingly willing to use any means necessary to secure their goals. The long-simmering culture war had run out of accommodations and the action in the streets and elsewhere was becoming more extreme.

The woke Left was in a much stronger position, having taken control of the permanent bureaucracy of government, the media and social media, all levels of education and our popular culture. They had been very successfully waging a long war of fundamental transformation since the days of the Cold War. When Barack Obama was elected president, many thought he could be the great uniter, but the opposite was true.

Obama threw gasoline on the fire. He told activist groups they truly were oppressed. He told us Trayvon Martin looked like the son he never had. He criticized the police and weaponized his administration against conservative groups. Obama unleashed the social justice warriors and the fires burned higher.

Donald Trump was elected in part due to his opposition to the America-bashing mentality of the Left. He proudly proclaimed he would "make America great again" and he pulled no punches when talking about it. This fighting spirit brought a whole new cohort into the political game. They would "build the wall" to secure our border and make left-wing political elites pay for their corruption and malfeasance.

Trump's victory enraged the Left. The hate was palpable and for four years the Left deployed every instrument of state and civilian power against the president and his administration. It created falsehoods like those in the Steele Dossier, which were then amplified by the media and used by the state in an attempt to bring him down. But all of that—and two impeachments—failed.

Donald Trump rally
FLORENCE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 15: Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds on January 15, 2022 in Florence, Arizona. The rally marks Trump's first of the midterm election year with races for both the U.S. Senate and governor in Arizona this year. Mario Tama/Getty Images

After the voting was done in 2020, many had a sense that the rules had been abused. Democrats used COVID-19 to justify an unprecedented increase in alternative voting measures and their previous abuses of power made it easy for many to envision a stolen result. That came to a head on January 6. That day brought violence and rioting, but most involved were peaceful protesters—at worst they were trespassing while in Trump gear.

But that event was too ripe for the Left to not exploit it. Democrats have called it an attempted coup and an insurrection and now have filed charges of sedition against some participants. The government's own evidence shows the alleged conspiracy was not designed to overthrow the government but to prepare for a fight against Antifa, which many of the president's supporters expected to show up or to respond if, in a long shot, President Trump invoked the Insurrection Act.

The abuse of power and treatment of those arrested as if they were political prisoners in an American gulag has only fueled more anger. And the efforts of the Biden crew to use the events of Jan. 6 as an excuse to crack down on political opponents have made things even worse.

The window for a peaceful end to this division is not unlimited. While actual open conflict is still highly unlikely, it is not out of the question. Some have even proposed a national divorce, breaking the United States into separate countries of Red and Blue. That would-be solution faces many hurdles, and there are more likely scenarios.

One possibility is the expansion of federalism and voluntary separation as members of the Right abandon blue states and cities. They find life under Democratic rule to be oppressive and even hellish. In a new remote work paradigm, employees no longer have to suffer crime and misery in metro areas and many are voting with a U-Haul. In addition, the dismal failures of the Biden crew have made election success for Republicans much more likely.

The victory, and immediate action, of Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia are bringing hope to many. It feels like a groundswell of those who have seen how everything woke turns to, well, the stuff all over the streets of Democrat-led cities. The resurgence of the Right must be swift and merciless in releasing the stranglehold of the Left on our institutions.

If it is, then this Second Civil War can actually be won without a shot fired.

Jim Hanson is Executive Director of America Matters. He previously served in U.S. Army Special Forces and is the author of Winning the Second Civil War: Without Firing a Shot.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.