WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2021
...about one of our two major breakdowns: Has Thomas Friedman gotten it right? Are we "closer to a political civil war...than at any other time in our modern history?"
Friedman makes that statement right at the start of his new column in the New York Times. Below, you see the fuller text. In our view, he's understating:
FRIEDMAN (5/5/21): President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t.
We are not OK. America’s democracy is still in real danger. In fact, we are closer to a political civil war—more than at any other time in our modern history. Today’s seeming political calm is actually resting on a false bottom that we’re at risk of crashing through at any moment.
Friedman says our failing republic is moving toward "a political civil war." He goes on to detail what he means.
We'd say he's understating. Beyond that, we'd say he's only managed to see one of our two major breakdowns.
Are we moving closer to a political civil war? Focusing on the Republican side, we'd say it's worse than that.
We'd say we've already reached the point of a silent secession. And that's just what's happening Over There, on the Trump/GOP side.
As his column proceeds, Friedman describes the widespread rise of The Crazy among the Republican base as Trump's claims about the last election gain purchase. After describing the nuttiness of those widespread beliefs, Friedman describes a possible future event—a type of event which could imaginably happen:
FRIEDMAN: Imagine if all or many of these ["voter suppression"] measures are passed—and in 2022 and 2024 Republicans manage to retake the House, Senate and White House with, say, only 42 percent of the popular vote, effectively establishing minority rule. Do you know what will happen? Let me tell you what will happen. Disenfranchised Democratic voters will not sit idly by. They may refuse to pay their taxes. Many will take to the streets. Some might become violent, and our whole political system could become paralyzed and start to unravel.
Yet, this is precisely the path that Trump’s G.O.P. is setting us on.
Could the GOP ever take the White House, and both branches of Congress, with something like 42 percent of the vote? At least on the presidential level, the GOP came scarily close to doing so last November, in an election where Donald J. Trump won 46.9 percent of the popular vote.
Candidate Biden managed to win the electoral college by virtue of scarily narrow margins in Arizona and Georgia. Given the oddities built into our electoral systems, things have bene trending this way since Campaign 2000.
In 2000, Candidate Gore won by 550,000 votes—and yet he lost the White House. In 2016, Candidate Clinton won by 2.9 million votes. She lost the White House too.
Four years later, Candidate Biden won by 7 million votes, and he came scarily close to losing. The system is trending in the direction of the "42 percent solution" Friedman now imagines.
If the GOP managed to produce some such outcome, would "disenfranchised Democrats" refuse to accept the outcome in the ways Friedman imagines?
We can't imagine why such things wouldn't happen. That would constitute a second silent secession, joining the one the GOP base has already engineered.
The current "silent secession" isn't being spoken out loud. That said, will the current GOP base ever accept the results of an election the GOP loses?
Under present arrangements, we see no reason to think that they will. We'd call that a "silent secession"—a type of secession which is already being played out in various ways, not excluding vaccination refusal.
Friedman imagines violence occurring if the GOP wins the world with 42 percent of the vote. We suspect that some such violence is already taking place.
We say that because we see two meltdowns occurring in our society where Friedman sees only one. We see The Crazy ruling the roost Over There—but we also see the banality which has taken hold in Our Town.
The craziness of the GOP base is tied to adherence to a Dear Leader, a classic human instinct. The banality on display in Our Town is tied to a different set of concerns.
We see that banality every day we we peruse the nation's newspapers. We se that banality every night as we watch Our Town's cable stars at work.
We wouldn't describe what we see in Our Town as "the banality of evil." The Third Reich engaged in behavior which can only be described as evil. That isn't the way Over Here.
The banality at play in Our Town is more "the banality of banality." That said, evil ends can flow, and are doing so now, from Our Town's preferred intellectual breakdowns.
(Our human brans are wired for this, top experts persistently say.)
Friedman ends today's column as shown:
FRIEDMAN: [W]ithout a war of ideas inside the [GOP], one that is won by principled Republicans, we run the real risk of a political civil war in America over the next election.
Things are not OK.
Unless more principled Republicans stand up for the truth about our last election, we’re going to see exactly how a democracy dies.
Friedman sees only one breakdown. He persists in believing that "political civil war" (and the death of democracy) remains a matter of risk.
At this site, we see two breakdowns—and we're inclined to think the game is already lost. We base this on the surprising things we're repeatedly told by major credentialed top experts.
What kind of intellectual breakdown is already underway in Our Town? In what way is the banality of our conduct lighting the way to our democracy's dusty death?
You're asking excellent questions! Tomorrow, we'll return to the violent arrest which occurred in Loveland, Colorado.
On Friday, we return to the banality of that front-page report about education at Manhattan's Grace Church School.
Tomorrow: Banality watch! Here in Our Town, our popular stars haven't said a word about what happened in Loveland
Friday: Banality watch! What happened next at that school