“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
--18 U.S.C. § 2384
In the light of the Super Tuesday Primary Election results, we can begin to think in concrete terms about how this election year might ultimately play out. While we still face a number of possible surprises, and anything may yet happen, the overwhelmingly most likely scenario is a Trump vs Clinton general election. I believe, as do other astute observers, that Donald Trump faces a hard cap on the level of electoral support he will enjoy. I would be very surprised if he could count on as many as 60 million votes. As always, the bizarre electoral college process could render this meaningless, but it's hard to imagine Trump garnering more than 170 electoral votes.
And that will be that. In the America at the end of the second decade of the twenty first century, the tribal divide will be complete, the utter inability of the federal government to govern will on rampant display, and a number of states will begin to experiment with de facto secession. Some percentage of those 60 million Trump voters will participate in acts of civil disobedience, takeovers of federal land as in Burns Oregon, and even acts of terrorism. The overriding question at this point is the balance between a comfortable American lifestyle of barbecue and beer and football on the flatscreen on Sunday and a revolutionary's willingness to fight and die for a cause. If enough angry, frightened, deluded white men decide that this is their moment, there is no lack of weapons. It's almost like everything in the last fifty years has been carefully calibrated to bring us to this point. The guns, the diversification of American society, the rise of women in the workforce and in culture, the growth of extreme religious beliefs, the ubiquitous power of digital media - everything has brought us to a 'perfect storm', where the deeply loathed Hillary Clinton takes presidential power from the equally hated Barack Obama and the conclusion is there's no future for these true American patriots.
What if a state - say Alabama - offers sanctuary for domestic terrorists from federal arrest and prosecution? What if their judiciary orders the arrest of federal law enforcement personnel? What if President Clinton activates the Alabama National Guard and the Governor orders them to stand down? Will the administration cut off funds? Enforce economic sanctions? Blockade the state? What will other deep red states do? What will the Republicans in congress do?
The problem is that conservatives, and their political arm, the Republican Party, have always been loathe to legitimize a Democratic President. They hated Bill Clinton, and even tried to impeach him. They hated Obama, and never stopped trying to make him powerless. These extreme political behaviors have hardened over the years as the population coalesced around two specific sets of ideologies, forming tribes that hated, feared and demonized each other. In this toxic witch's brew of anger and distrust it would not take much of a flashpoint to change the future of America in a single spasm of violence.
Of course, this is all speculation. None of it will necessarily happen. But when you consider the pent-up hatred, anger and frustration of not just losing, but losing to CLINTON will engender, it's hard to see the next four years as a peaceful time in America.