It may be possible for America to survive a second Clinton Administration, but only if true patriots are willing to shed blood to achieve our nation’s redemption. If Clinton is elected, only violence can redeem what our apathy has lost.
Republicans have been toying with this kind of hyperbole since the 90s, but it has mostly been confined to the margins. It might have remained there if leaders had possessed the courage to confront this kind of thinking. They didn’t. Instead they quietly and cynically stoked white outrage, imagining it was a tamable beast that they could ride to power.
That opening paragraph is no AM radio rant. It’s not some misspelled, ALLCAPS Facebook post from your crazy uncle. It summarizes comments made by an ambitious Republican Governor this week at the Value Voters Summit.
Beyond the reddest of the red states, very few people appreciate the level of hysteria building at the edges of the Republican Party. Election results this fall are likely to sweep away any delusion among white nationalists that they can “restore” their country through the democratic process. Get ready to see them explore alternatives.
Our system is far more vulnerable to political violence than we realize. Hype over international terrorism has obscured a remarkable fact – we have been living through a remarkable period of domestic calm. More Americans are killed every year by falling TV sets than by terrorists. Toddlers accessing their parents’ guns rack up a higher death toll than political violence. Oblivious to rising rage and over-estimating their power, establishment political figures will be surprised by their own weakness when faced with organized domestic violence.
Today, what we often call political violence is generally just random individual violence dressed up in a cause. The Orlando nightclub shooting, the San Bernardino shooting, the church attack in Charleston, these were acts carried out by disturbed loners. They differ from the Columbine school shootings or the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan only in the perpetrators’ garbled themes. These incidents emerge not from strategy, organization, or protected political cover, but from a background level of violence. They are a default, the static produced by a violent culture saturated in cheap weapons.
As recently as the 60’s the country was awash in organized political violence aimed at achieving specific policy outcomes. Perhaps nowhere in the country was political violence carried out with more success and impunity than in the South. National news captured a few high-profile cases like the Birmingham church bombing and the deaths of visiting civil rights workers, but there was virtually no coverage of the bulk of the paramilitary campaign. Seldom were these acts investigated or prosecuted as they were commonly carried out with the complicity of local authorities.
When FBI pressure forced the Klan and other mainline terror organizations to moderate in the mid 60s, splinter organizations like the Silver Dollar Group stepped up their violence. The Greensboro massacre against labor organizers in Greensboro, NC occurred in 1979. The Cold Case project has attempted to document and investigate more than a hundred unsolved murders, but no one knows the full death toll. The political impact of this terrorist campaign has never been gauged.
On the left, a kaleidoscope of violent groups emerged in the 60’s. Some were almost comically addled, yet still deadly. Bizarre groups like the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army carried out high profile attacks that were difficult to predict or suppress.
As frustration grew over the pace of civil rights reforms, the Black Panthers promised a more muscular approach to black liberation. Efforts to suppress the Panthers led to military-style engagements across the country. In 1969, a massive para-military raid on the Black Panthers’ headquarters in Los Angeles was carried out by an innovative new police unit created specifically for these kinds of tasks. It was the first engagement for a “SWAT” team.
As recently as 1979, Councilman Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a colleague on the San Francisco city council angry over their politics. Until the late 70s, it was not at all uncommon for political groups to leverage violence as a strategic tactic. The practice declined across the political spectrum in the 80s. Organized political violence is now rare, though it has persisted at a kind of low-boil in anti-abortion circles. As this era of relative calm comes to an end, keep an eye on anti-abortion activists. They are the most likely starting point for a re-emergence of strategic violence.
How is this era of relative calm likely to be broken? To avoid inadvertently sketching a blueprint, you won’t see much detail here. However, a few of the outlines are already clear.
It will probably start on the right, but will not be confined there. The most volatile event, something likely to be noticed and remembered, will probably resemble the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve. However, instead of being located in the middle of nowhere and perpetrated by a band of misfits, it will happen in a major city with tacit (or perhaps even semi-accidental) support from local political figures.
It will probably occur in a red state, creating pressure on a Republican Governor and Republican local administrations who will struggle to find the political will to act. Their dithering (if not outright sympathy) would place on the onus on Federal authorities, inviting a conflict on a very troubling scale.
Governor Bevin and others like him may come to regret their intemperate remarks. Republican political figures who have stoked this kind of hysteria will find themselves in a very difficult position when people start taking their comments seriously.
Our era of relative calm reflects an era of relative political success. That success is coming to end as the Republican Party descends into chaos and its refugees push the Democratic Party toward the middle. Frustration on the chaotic right and the disenchanted left are fuel for trouble. Responsible leaders could defuse the tension, but instead they are stoking outrage.
We have been relatively fortunate in recent years to enjoy a period of political calm. Thanks to political figures like Matt Bevin and political entertainers like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, that calm is probably coming to an end.