I was having a text conversation this morning with someone who was decrying the increased likelihood of political violence following the upcoming midterm election. Given the level of Republican fuckery over the last few years and the already demonstrated propensity towards violence of the extremist element among them, I’d say it’s almost unavoidable. Perhaps it won’t be immediately following the next election, but sooner or later I fully expect to see levels of domestic terrorism in the United States on par with The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the last half of the 20th century.
It’s not a future I’m particularly looking forward to, but it feels definitively on brand for America. We are, after all, a country founded in part due to a violent rebellion against a three-penny tax. In 1794, the ink of our Constitution barely dried, federalized troops were called out to put down a rebellion in Western Pennsylvania, again, over taxation. Sixty years later, we fought a bloody, four-year civil war. All the years before and after are pock marked with acts of individual and group violence. It ebbs and flows as a common thread through the history of the Republic.
I can’t deny the nagging feeling that we’re on another up swing towards conditions that will almost certainly be worse than anything seen in living memory. Just because we haven’t personally experienced it, though, we shouldn’t pretend that this is something altogether new and different. The only real question in my mind now is whether this generation will develop the will and personal fortitude of a Washington or Lincoln and put down this latest accumulation of rabble before they manage to do any lasting damage.