According to the latest US polls, almost half of all Americans expect a civil war in the country. Democratic and Republican voters have become increasingly hostile to each other, considering each other “evil.” Political experts are already debating EU-like models: Could the United States become a union of divided states?
Overall, 44 percent of all US citizens fear civil war-like conditions in the near future – 39 percent are worried among Democrats and even 53 percent among Republicans. By similarly startling numbers, Americans also endorse the assassination of politicians they perceive as “damaging to democracy.” There is hardly an issue in the United States that seems united anymore: neither on the recognition of the last election results, nor on abortion laws, climate change, gun controls, pandemic measures, school curricula or minority and gay rights.
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The results of the most recent opinion poll by the civil rights association Southern Poverty Law Center caused an uproar: More than half of all Republican voters expect a second civil war in the near future. In the same poll, 44 percent of all young Democratic men supported assassinating politicians they felt were “harming the country.” Among young Republicans, 40 percent supported the assassination of MPs they see as a threat. Only voters over 50, in a large majority and regardless of gender or party affiliation, expressed their fundamental opposition to assassination attempts on politicians.
The division of the United States continues. According to the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll, 91 percent of all Democrats currently want Donald Trump to be criminally charged for his role in the storming of the Capitol – among Republicans the figure is only 19 percent. Overall, 58 percent of all Americans support a complaint against the former president.
Further surveys show: Americans only want to live where neighbors share their political stance. Over 40 percent think voters from the other party are “evil” and almost as many find the idea of their child marrying a spouse from the other party “staggering”.
Results from many constituencies confirm this trend: so-called “red” (i.e. republican) residential areas are becoming increasingly “redder” – the “blue” (democratic) constituencies, on the other hand, are becoming “bluer”. The number of constituencies in which a presidential candidate received more than 80 percent of all votes rose from 6 percent in 2004 to 22 percent in the last 2020 election.
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“Are we facing a civil war?” are currently asking more and more political observers in the US media and are debating possible outcomes. A scenario of two separate nations with a “red”, republican state and a “blue”, democratic state, seems unlikely to most analysts.
Rather, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich sees parallels to England’s exit from the EU. “What America is going through right now is akin to Brexit — a lumbering mutual decision to go our separate ways on most issues, but to stay together on a few big issues (like defense, finance, political rights),” he said Political scientist in a Guardian editorial. He goes on to say, “America is on the fast track to becoming two versions of America.”
For political author Andrew Tanner, a split in the United States into independent territories seems inevitable: “Americans are irreconcilably divided on the crucial issues. And our two-party system only reinforces that. A country that cannot adapt to the changing times dies. The US would certainly not be the first powerful country to collapse. Countries live and countries die.”
What would such a split in the US look like? In one of Tanner’s versions, the West Coast and the Northeast could become two independent, politically liberal countries. But the political expert thinks the model of a union of 16 autonomous metropolitan states – with their own political systems and judiciary – is more likely. “A structured regionalism is America’s only chance to get through the coming decade halfway intact,” he writes in an analysis for the “Medium” portal. “There is also no reason why the constitution must assume only one federal capital in Washington.”
For many Americans, Washington is a symbol of complete detachment anyway – far from any realities in the rest of the United States, says Tanner. The end of the capital as the seat of the federal government makes perfect sense. “Would the proposed split of the US federal government into autonomous regional governments create earthquake-like changes in American history? Naturally! That’s what it’s supposed to be.” And that’s the only way he thinks America’s survival is possible: “The longer the USA doesn’t change, the worse everything gets. Until the country dies.”