What if the only way to avoid a renewal of the Civil War is for Republicans to win?

I’ve become increasingly wary of political discussions with passengers in the Pittsburgh area. Too many are absolute Trumpist wackos, too many are in COVID-19 denial, too many are anti-vaxxers, too many say of the 2020 general election, “A lot of shady stuff happened there.”

But I had a passenger yesterday who, after some back and forth, I found was in agreement that we are very likely headed for violence in this country.[1] Indeed, if one trusts a number of recent polls, it appears a lot of people think that such violence may be justified and that a lot of, though fewer, people think that the January 6 coup attempt was justified,[2] which seems to suggest strongly that if those people ever fail to get their way in an election again, they may very well indeed attempt a repeat of that coup attempt.

Indeed, the only way I see of avoiding that outcome is if, indeed, the Republicans succeed in their sustained and wide-ranging effort to ensure minoritarian rule,[3] an effort that Democrats have seemingly and consciously acquiesced to,[4] thus rendering such an attempt unnecessary.

My passenger, however, takes his thinking a step beyond mine and boldly thinks that there will be some tragedy that brings Amerikkkans together. When I pointed to the COVID-19 death toll, surely such a tragedy at over 800,000,[5] it became clear he felt simply that the tipping point had not yet been reached.

He might be right. There certainly is a systems logic there, though I think it more likely his thinking, although clearly educated, draws on faith. The obvious question is if not any of the milestones in the death toll we have already breached, what number will be high enough? He can’t say and it’s really unfair to ask.

But whatever Trumpists say about abortion, it’s hard to argue that their willingness to resort to violence, which is indisputably in evidence,[6] signals any reverence for human life whatsoever. Which raises the next question: What possible tragedy could, as my passenger suggested, bring “us” together?

Meteor explosion

So here I am, oblivious. It looks like there was a meteor explosion practically right over my head[7] and I didn’t notice.

I replied that I hadn’t noticed anything in Upper Saint Clair. Other folks replied that they’d heard and felt it near South Hills Village[8] and off South Park Road.[9] Neither of those places are all that far from me, certainly not when “residents respond[ed] from Stowe Township, Hampton, Carrick, Avalon, Fox Chapel and Aspinwall, as well as the South Hills” to an event that likely occurred over Washington County,[10] which is the other direction, from where I am, from South Hills Village.

I have no excuse, no explanation.

Joyce Hanz, “National Weather Service says meteors are likely to blame for New Year’s Day boom in Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 1, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/fox-chapel/it-wasnt-an-earthquake-allegheny-county-officials-say-the-widespread-shaking-loud-boom-was-something-else/



Melody Schreiber, “America Quits the Fight Against Covid,” New Republic, December 31, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/164909/america-omicron-surge-quit-covid-fight

Paige Lavender, “Texas Gov. Asks For Federal Help With COVID Testing, Treatments As Cases Climb,” Huffington Post, January 1, 2022, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/texas-covid-federal-help-greg-abbott_n_61d0ab5ce4b0bb04a639a997

Michael Bachner, “Up to a third of Israelis predicted to get COVID in next 3 weeks; tests running out,” Times of Israel, January 2, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/up-to-a-third-of-israelis-predicted-to-get-covid-in-next-3-weeks-tests-running-out/

Shaun Lintern and Gabriel Pogrund, “NHS struggles as sickness takes out 1 in 10 staff,” Times, January 2, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nhs-struggles-as-sickness-takes-out-1-in-10-staff-x29mwv5rw

Donie O’Sullivan, “One of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s verified Twitter accounts permanently suspended from Twitter,” CNN, January 2, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/02/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-twitter-suspension/index.html

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A hot U.S. civil war turned cold, now lukewarm, may turn hot again,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/19/a-hot-u-s-civil-war-turned-cold-now-lukewarm-may-turn-hot-again/
  2. [2]Rachel Bade and Zack Stanton, “4 startling polls you should read about Jan. 6,” Politico, January 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/01/02/4-startling-polls-you-should-read-about-jan-6-495559
  3. [3]Avery Anapol, “Judge orders Trump admin to explain how it decided to add citizenship question to census,” Hill, July 3, 2018, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/395400-federal-judge-says-trump-admin-acted-in-bad-faith-with-citizenship; Tara Bahrampour and Robert Barnes, “Despite Trump administration denials, new evidence suggests census citizenship question was crafted to benefit white Republicans,” Washington Post, May 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/despite-trump-administration-denials-new-evidence-suggests-census-citizenship-question-was-crafted-to-benefit-white-republicans/2019/05/30/ca188dea-82eb-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html; Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner, “Government lawyers step up effort to get a citizenship question on 2020 Census, court filing shows, ” Washington Post, July 5, 2019, source; Tara Bahrampour, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, “Reversing course, Trump administration will look for a way to add citizenship question to 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-contradict-his-own-administration-on-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/03/b720bb94-9da4-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html; Tara Bahrampour et al., “Trump administration scrambles to save citizenship question on census,” Washington Post, July 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-scrambles-to-save-citizenship-question-on-census/2019/07/04/238fe3fa-9e85-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html; Robert Barnes, “On Census citizenship question, Supreme Court’s conservatives appear to be united,” Boston Globe, April 23, 2019, https://www2.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2019/04/23/census-citizenship-question-supreme-court-conservatives-appear-united/tB1KUI3oACQAIAjQxVyXRL/story.html; Noah Bierman and David G. Savage, “Trump administration abruptly gives up fight over citizenship question on the census,” Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-census-trump-citizenship-20190702-story.html; Noah Bierman and David G. Savage, “Citizen question may be back on 2020 census as Trump administration reverses course again,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-census-immigration-tweet-supreme-court-20190703-story.html; Sarah Binder, “Mitch McConnell is wrong. Here’s the filibuster’s ‘racial history,’” Washington Post, March 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/24/mitch-mcconnell-is-wrong-heres-filibusters-racial-history/; Aaron Blake, “Trump just admitted something he probably shouldn’t have about the census citizenship question,” Washington Post, July 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/05/trump-just-admitted-something-he-probably-shouldnt-have-about-census-citizenship-question/; Aaron Blake, “The Justice Department just pulled its lawyers from the census case. That could signal something ugly ahead,” Washington Post, July 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/justice-department-just-pulled-its-lawyers-census-case-that-could-signal-something-ugly-ahead/; Hayes Brown, “Stacey Abrams’ run for Georgia governor will test GOP voter suppression,” MSNBC, December 2, 2021, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/stacey-abrams-run-georgia-governor-will-test-gop-voter-suppression-n1285261; Philip Bump, “Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election,” Washington Post, May 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/04/despite-gop-rhetoric-there-have-been-fewer-than-two-dozen-charged-cases-voter-fraud-since-election/; Marjorie Cohn, “Supreme Court Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act,” Truthout, July 2, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/supreme-court-drives-a-stake-through-the-heart-of-the-voting-rights-act/; Mike DeBonis, “Stepping up Trump clash, House votes to enforce Barr and McGahn subpoenas,” Washington Post, June 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/stepping-up-trump-clash-house-to-vote-to-enforce-barr-and-mcgahn-subpoenas/2019/06/11/a1343cea-8c4f-11e9-b6f4-033356502dce_story.html; Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-voting-john-lewis/2021/11/03/de00974e-3cc5-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; Lindsay Ellis, “After Scathing Criticism, U. of Florida Will Let Professors Testify Against the State,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 5, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-scathing-criticism-u-of-florida-will-let-professors-testify-against-the-state; Garrett Epps, “Is the Citizenship Question Dead?” Atlantic, June 27, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/court-wants-real-reason-citizenship-question/592864/; Garrett Epps, “The Census Case Could Provoke a Constitutional Crisis,” Atlantic, July 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/census-case-could-provoke-constitutional-crisis/593425/; Elizabeth Findell, “Texas Senate Passes Voting Bill, as Democratic Rivals Push Federal Bill,” Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/texas-senate-expected-to-take-up-vote-on-election-legislation-11626176054; Colleen Flaherty, “Just the End of the Beginning,” Inside Higher Ed, November 8, 2021, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/11/08/uf-says-professors-can-be-paid-experts-theyre-suing-anyway; David Gans, “Selective originalism and selective textualism: How the Roberts court decimated the Voting Rights Act,” SCOTUSblog, July 7, 2021, https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/07/selective-originalism-and-selective-textualism-how-the-roberts-court-decimated-the-voting-rights-act/; Amy Gardner and Amy B. Wang, “Georgia governor signs into law sweeping voting bill that curtails the use of drop boxes and imposes new ID requirements for mail voting,” Washington Post, March 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/georgia-voting-restrictions/2021/03/25/91009e72-8da1-11eb-9423-04079921c915_story.html; Barton Gellman, “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun,” Atlantic, December 6, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/01/january-6-insurrection-trump-coup-2024-election/620843/; Josh Gerstein, “Justice Department replaces attorneys in census citizenship-question battle,” Politico, July 8, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/08/justice-department-census-citizenship-question-battle-1399523; Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro, “Supreme Court nixes California disclosure law in blow to dark-money opponents,” Politico, July 1, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/01/supreme-court-california-disclosure-law-donors-497554; Ted Hesson and Josh Gerstein, “Why Trump will likely lose the census citizenship fight,” Politico, July 8, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/08/trump-census-citizenship-2020-1573574; Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung, “Trump fumes as Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question,” Reuters, June 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-census/trump-fumes-as-supreme-court-blocks-census-citizenship-question-idUSKCN1TS1BL; Andrew Jeong, “University of Florida bars faculty from testifying in voting rights lawsuit against DeSantis administration,” Washington Post, October 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/30/florida-voting-rights-desantis-lawsuit/; Jon Kamp, “Texas GOP Lawmakers Send Voting Bill to Governor’s Desk,” Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/texas-gop-lawmakers-send-voting-bill-to-governors-desk-11630449811; Seung Min Kim, Tara Bahrampour, and John Wagner, “Trump retreats on adding citizenship question to 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-to-hold-news-conference-on-census-as-he-mulls-executive-action-to-add-a-citizenship-question/2019/07/11/c0eb7cb6-a3c8-11e9-b8c8-75dae2607e60_story.html; Scott Lemieux, “How the Supreme Court’s Arizona voting rights decision will affect challenges to Georgia’s law,” NBC News, July 1, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-supreme-court-s-arizona-voting-rights-decision-will-impact-ncna1272928; Lawrence Lessig, “Why the US Is a Failed Democratic State,” New York Review of Books, December 10, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/10/why-the-us-is-a-failed-democratic-state/; Sam Levine, “Is the US supreme court having a liberal moment? Not on one crucial issue,” Guardian, July 11, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/11/supreme-court-justices-liberal-conservatives; Ruth Marcus, “The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation,” Washington Post, November 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/28/supreme-court-decisions-abortion-guns-religious-freedom-loom/; Ann E. Marimow, Matt Zapotosky, and Tara Bahrampour, “2020 Census will not include citizenship question, Justice Department confirms,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/2020-census-will-not-include-citizenship-question-doj-confirms/2019/07/02/0067be4a-9c44-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html; Joseph Marks, “My Pillow cyber symposium is yet another font of election fraud lies,” Washington Post, August 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/11/cybersecurity-202-my-pillow-cyber-symposium-is-yet-another-font-election-fraud-lies/; Eva Ruth Moravec, “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs law creating new voting restrictions as opponents sue,” Washington Post, September 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/07/abbott-texas-voting-restrictions-signs-bill/; Eva Ruth Moravec and Elise Viebeck, “Texas House advances GOP voting restrictions, which Democrats had blocked for weeks by fleeing the state,” Washington Post, August 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/27/texas-gop-voting-restrictions-democrats-house/; J. M. Rieger, “The Trump administration has changed its story on the census citizenship question at least 10 times in four months,” Washington Post, July 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/trump-administration-has-changed-its-story-census-citizenship-question-least-times-four-months/; David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html; Jessica Schneider, “Federal judge permanently blocks Trump admin from adding citizenship question to 2020 census,” CNN, July 16, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/politics/judge-permanently-blocks-citizenship-question-2020-census/index.html; Jessica Schneider, “2nd federal judge blocks Trump admin from adding citizenship question to census,” CNN, July 17, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/17/politics/2020-census-citizenship/index.html; Felicia Sonmez, “House votes to hold Attorney General Barr, Commerce Secretary Ross in contempt for failing to comply with subpoena on 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-to-vote-to-hold-barr-ross-in-contempt-over-2020-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/17/8dbeb35c-a89c-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html; Felicia Sonmez and Matt Zapotosky, “Plaintiffs seek to block Justice Department from changing lawyers in census citizenship case,” Washington Post, July 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/plaintiffs-seek-to-block-justice-department-from-changing-lawyers-in-census-citizenship-case/2019/07/08/307182d6-a1e6-11e9-b732-41a79c2551bf_story.html; Paige St. John, “Election watchers snap photos of workers, challenge voter signatures as recall nears,” Los Angeles Times, September 10, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-10/election-chiefs-wary-of-california-recall-vote-fraud-claims; Nicholas Stephanopoulos, “The Supreme Court showcased its ‘textualist’ double standard on voting rights,” Washington Post, July 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/01/supreme-court-alito-voting-rights-act/; Sarina Vij, “Why Minority Voters Have a Lower Voter Turnout: An Analysis of Current Restrictions,” American Bar Association, June 26, 2020, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/voting-in-2020/why-minority-voters-have-a-lower-voter-turnout/; Ariane de Vogue and Maegan Vazquez, “Trump faces ‘limited paths forward’ on census citizenship question,” CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/politics/census-path-forward-white-house/index.html; Eugene Volokh, “Is the Government Required to Count the Number of Citizens in Each State?” Reason, April 25, 2019, https://reason.com/2019/04/25/is-the-government-required-to-count-the-number-of-citizens-in-each-state/; Hansi Lo Wang, “Trump Administration’s Census Citizenship Question Plans Halted By 3rd Judge,” National Public Radio, April 5, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/05/700982993/trump-administrations-census-citizenship-question-plans-halted-by-third-judge; Hansi Lo Wang, “An Independent Review Of The 1st 2020 Census Results Found No Major Irregularities,” National Public Radio, September 14, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/09/14/1035449920/2020-census-results-by-state-data-accuracy-quality-metrics-apportionment; David Wasserman, “The Cook Political Report’s 2021 Redistricting Overview,” January 26, 2021, https://cookpolitical.com/redistrictnopaywall; Michael Wines, “Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Citizenship Question Throws Case Into Chaos,” New York Times, June 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/us/census-citizenship-question.html; Matt Zapotosky, “Second federal judge blocks Justice Dept. bid to replace census attorneys,” Washington Post, July 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/second-federal-judge-blocks-justice-dept-bid-to-replace-census-attorneys/2019/07/10/4a82fb80-a35a-11e9-b732-41a79c2551bf_story.html; Matt Zapotosky, Seung Min Kim, and Tara Bahrampour, “Federal judge rejects Trump administration’s bid to swap out lawyers for Census case on citizenship question,” Washington Post, July 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-rejects-trump-administrations-bid-to-swap-out-lawyers-for-census-case-on-citizenship-question/2019/07/09/d12f811e-a24f-11e9-b7b4-95e30869bd15_story.html; Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner, “Trump asserts executive privilege to shield documents on census citizenship question,” Washington Post, June 12, 2019, copy in possession of author
    Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger, “Trump, Elder’s campaign falsely claimed fraud before California votes were counted — a growing GOP tactic,” Washington Post, September 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/15/trump-elder-california-recall-fraud-newsom/
  4. [4]Steve Benen, “As Senate Democrats reach a deal on voting rights, what happens now?” MSNBC, September 14, 2021, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/senate-dems-reach-deal-voting-rights-what-happens-now-n1279115; Philip Bump, “Biden warns that American democracy is under threat — a message targeting many in his own party,” Washington Post, July 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/13/biden-warns-that-american-democracy-is-under-threat-a-message-targeting-many-his-own-party/; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162974/democrats-voting-rights-bill-dead; Ed Kilgore, “How a Filibuster Reform for Voting Rights Could Happen,” New York, September 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/how-a-filibuster-reform-for-voting-rights-could-happen.html; Maya King, David Siders, and Daniel Lippman, “‘We’re f—ed’: Dems fear turnout catastrophe from GOP voting laws,” Politico, July 26, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/26/democrats-gop-voting-laws-crisis-500726; Sam Levine, “Voting rights advocates frustrated by ‘same-old, same-old’ meeting with White House,” Guardian, December 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/voting-rights-advocates-frustrated-meeting-white-house; Abby Livingston and Carla Astudillo, “Sen. Joe Manchin, key Democratic holdout on federal voting protections, coming to Texas for fundraiser hosted by several GOP donors,” Texas Tribune, June 16, 2021, https://www.texastribune.org/2021/07/15/joe-manchin-texas-fundraiser-republicans/; Amanda Marcotte, “Kyrsten Sinema’s run out of excuses: Supreme Court leaves Senate Democrats with little choice,” Salon, July 2, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/07/02/kyrsten-sinemas-run-out-of-excuses-supreme-court-leaves-senate-democrats-with-little-choice/; Manu Raju, “Democrats cut deal with Manchin to get party behind long-shot voting overhaul bill,” CNN, September 14, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/14/politics/democrats-manchin-voting-overhaul-bill/index.html; Jack Rodgers, “Biden Justice Department Won’t Wade Deeper Into High Court Fight of Arizona Election Laws,” Courthouse News Service, February 16, 2021, https://www.courthousenews.com/biden-justice-department-wont-wade-deeper-into-high-court-fight-of-arizona-election-laws/; Greg Sargent, “The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse,” Washington Post, December 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/10/manchin-filibuster-protecting-our-democracy-act/; Theodore Schleifer, “The Los Altos Shrink Taking Over Washington,” Puck News, September 21, 2021, https://puck.news/karla-jurvetson-goes-for-broke/
  5. [5]Heather Hollingsworth, “US COVID death toll hits 800,000, a year into vaccine drive,” Associated Press, December 15, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-united-states-41fd85092ef5571515afbb923b8a06ef
  6. [6]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html
  7. [7]Joyce Hanz, “National Weather Service says meteors are likely to blame for New Year’s Day boom in Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 1, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/fox-chapel/it-wasnt-an-earthquake-allegheny-county-officials-say-the-widespread-shaking-loud-boom-was-something-else/
  8. [8]Adam Casto, “We heard and felt it throughout our house on the opposite border of USC by BP and SHV,” Twitter, January 1, 2022, https://twitter.com/adam_casto/status/1477359457822818306
  9. [9]James Veliky, “We did. Off South Park Rd,” Twitter, January 1, 2022, https://twitter.com/JamesVeliky/status/1477383281876348929
  10. [10]Joyce Hanz, “National Weather Service says meteors are likely to blame for New Year’s Day boom in Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 1, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/fox-chapel/it-wasnt-an-earthquake-allegheny-county-officials-say-the-widespread-shaking-loud-boom-was-something-else/

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