Q&A Friday #107: Could We See More Political Violence Or A Civil War In The US?

Q&A Friday #107: Could We See More Political Violence Or A Civil War In The US?

Question: The left leaning media has been talking alot about how the political dialog has been getting hasrher than it’s ever been before. I’m not sure I buy into that. I think that with the advent of the internet, we are just seing more voices and more opinions. With more opinions, comes more nastiness, something that is exacerbated by the anonymous disconnect that the internet provides. But let’s run with that for a second.

But something that is undeniable is that the left is pushing harder than ever to get their agenda put in place. Do you feel that the increased nastiness in politics, assuming it really even exists, combined with the increased agressivness of the left might ever lead to sectarian violence here in the US? Could we be facing the posibility of a second civil war? Why or why not? — Johnny Wadd

Answer: Politics has always been a nasty business, but the culture created by the Internet has made it nastier. There’s anonymity; so people don’t have to associate their real names with attacks. There’s also distance; people are too far away to get the punch in the nose that they deserve for the things they’ve said. Conversations also tend to degrade down to the lowest common denominator. So, you can have nine normal people and one idiot, and that one moron can turn everything into a nasty shout-fest. Combine that with a niche-oriented media that’s extremely effective at demonizing the opposition and presenting a slanted view that makes the other side’s position seem incomprehensible, and it leads to an extraordinary level of viciousness — and it doesn’t stay contained on the Internet. The type of conversations you see on the net have spilled over into “real life” and impacted the way people interact with each other in other settings. in other words, our culture has coarsened considerably because of the Internet.

As to political violence, honestly, I’m surprised we don’t have a lot more of it. We have people throwing food and glitter at their political adversaries, shouting them out, going to their houses, and deliberately trying to initiate confrontations with each other. The rhetoric, if people really believed what they were saying, would lead to violence as well. If Bush were really another Hitler, who was behind the World Trade Center attacks, and started a war just to enrich his business cronies, then how immoral would it be to pick up a gun and do something about it? The mainstream media can hyperventilate all it wants about people using the words “targeting” and “crossfire,” but if liberals believed their own line of hype about conservatives, they’d be literally trying to murder us.

Going from there to “Civil War” may not be an impossible leap, but it is a big leap. If political violence did become much more common, the Constitution were completely tossed aside, the government tried to ban guns, or the country went bankrupt, I think you could see widespread political violence and maybe even another Civil War. How likely is it? Still not very, but probably more likely than it was say, a decade ago, before the Internet really took off.

On the other hand, everything tends to be cyclical in politics, including the harshness of the rhetoric. Hopefully, at some point, the sort of rhetoric and assault-style politics of the Left will become less popular, even among liberals, and the situation will improve.

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