America is more divided than any time since the civil war. Everyone’s heard this fact lobbied about, or intuited it from the world they see around them. According to Pew Research yesterday, there is currently a 36 percentage point gap in political values between the right and the left. While people argue the micro-level political issues (which, by the way, we’ll never move in either direction because our political system moves with the pace of a thousand year old turtle), they miss the macro-level problem: the divisiveness itself.
We’re repeatedly seeing violent clashes at political rallies that can only lead to further division. The dangers of this are obvious and there are two key problems. One, there’s a danger of militarization on the political spectrum, which is already taking place. Taken to its natural conclusion, this means the probability of violent clashes with people from an opposing political ideology will increase. Right now this is Antifa vs the Alt Right. If we continue going down the path we’re on, it will be the left vs. the right.
Second, there’s the danger of outside state and non-state actors taking advantage of the situation. As we can see taking place in Syria where the U.S. and Russia are both trying to exert influence in the future of the country, a big part of the consequences of a civil war is mommy and daddy fighting over custody rights. In 2010, a Russian analyst named Igor Panaran theorized exactly what that would look like in the case of an American civil war:
Given the stakes of this divisiveness, it’s important to ask ourselves two key questions: 1) What’s causing this? and 2) How can we reverse it?