On Wednesday, Donald Trump made history as a twice-impeached president. One could argue that Article 1, “Incitement of Insurrection,” reflects Trump firing the first shots of Civil War 2.0 with red MAGA hats and Trump 2020 banners replacing the Confederate flag.
Given the intense partisan political and cultural divide between red and blue America, such a conflict was inevitable, flammable, and waiting for a spark. Yet, nobody foresaw the opening battle would be an attempted siege of the Capitol — followed a week later by Trump’s second impeachment.
Moving into Joe Biden’s inauguration week, we will learn whether hard-core MAGA militia members are as dedicated to giving their lives and shedding blood for Trump as Confederate soldiers were for “The Cause.”
Follow Trump “to the ends of the earth”
For instance, “I say, take the hill or die trying” was a reader comment on MyMilitia.com — a site that “urged violence if senators made official the victory of President-elect Joe Biden,” as reported by ProPublica. In its piece titled “Capitol Rioters Planned for Weeks in Plain Sight. The Police Weren’t Ready,” the authors cite an extremist pro-Trump leader threatening violence after writing on Parler a week before, “If D.C. escalates…so do we.”
Such bravado, even if limited to extremist pockets, is compatible with what Eric Trump told the Associated Press on Tuesday — that “his father will leave the presidency with a powerful brand backed by millions of voters who will follow him, ‘to the ends of the Earth.’ ”
Eric’s assessment of loyalty is reminiscent of what his father famously said at an Iowa campaign stop on Jan. 23, 2016: “Polls say I have the most loyal people, did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
Not OK. And it’s why, five years later, Trump galvanized the actions of his most extreme cult-like loyalists into attacking the Capitol after two months of repeatedly hearing the president spew charges of election fraud to his 88.7 million Twitter followers.
Unfortunately, the most violence-prone of the thousands of mostly peaceful protesters who gathered for the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally were inspired to show “loyalty” by doing the president’s dirty work as Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden.
For those MAGA militia members, the only truth is “Trump truth” — the president “won in a landslide,” and the “election was stolen.” In Trump’s name, these patriots are “taking back their country,” so let the fight begin.
However, impeaching Trump for a second time does not solve another problem fueling Civil War 2.0. The issue at hand is the millions of Trump voters angry with Republican Party leaders who have recently turned against the president. They see Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Liz Cheney as the worst offenders, and on some days, Sen. Lindsey Graham too, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy leaning in that direction.
In MAGA-land, showing loyalty to Trump is always paramount. Since 2016, the grassroots of the GOP were conquered by the “Trumpican Party,” which grew in strength and zeal.
As proof of Trump’s domination, an October Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 54% of Republican voters supported Trump over the party — compared to 38% who were Republicans first.
This week the numbers have flipped. An Axios-Ipsos survey reported that “a majority of Republicans in the poll — 56% — consider themselves traditional Republicans; 36% call themselves Trump Republicans.” Still, that 36% is a powerful, influential bloc of voters who will follow Trump “to the ends of the Earth.”
Greatest president since Reagan or Lincoln
Is there hope for my former party? Having been an active and loyal Republican for over four decades, I can attest that, in the past four years, if one did not believe that Trump was the greatest president since Reagan or Lincoln, you had better find a new party. (That’s the reason I am currently politically homeless, waiting for an “under new management” sign or perhaps even a new party to be formed by disgruntled former Republicans, of which there are millions.)
Fortress Washington looks like Civil War 2.0 has begun
With Trump’s abandonment of leadership, the nation’s capital has physically been transformed into a fortress. Not since the first Civil War has the “Union” military presence throughout Washington, D.C., been at today’s levels. There are over 20,000 troops deployed for Biden’s inauguration, with an IED threat making headlines. When will it be safe for these soldiers to disperse — weeks, months? Years? (Never?) Moreover, the FBI is warning of inaugural-related violence throughout the nation with state capitals also on guard. Let’s hope our global enemies don’t further complicate matters. Undoubtedly, our national turmoil makes us a soft target while the twice impeached president runs out the clock.
Another passion-stirring event that could explode Civil War 2.0 is the Senate impeachment trial. Soon-to-be Minority Leader McConnell announced that the trial is delayed until after Trump leaves office, thus placing it in Chuck Schumer’s lap. Indeed, “split-screen” optics with Trump’s trial and Biden’s new administration initiatives would send an off-kilter message to the nation and the world.
Can GOP leaders “purge” Trump?
The critical question is whether two-thirds of the Senate will vote to convict, and bar Trump from holding public office again. If they do, then McConnell could theoretically “purge Trump” from the party and win back control of the chamber in 2022. But if Trump is acquitted and wants to run in 2024, McConnell should consider the findings of a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted Jan. 8–11, which showed support is strong for a Trump comeback: If the Republican primary for the 2024 presidential election were held now, Trump would win 42% of Republican voters. (The poll was taken before impeachment, which could improve those numbers.)
By comparison, the same question, asked Nov. 21–23, found that 54% chose Trump. Though the latest survey shows a decline of 12 percentage points, that still leaves a significant chunk of Trump voters not wanting to “purge” their leader, thus illustrating why Civil War 2.0 is likely to continue.
The “Big Lie” is fueling Civil War 2.0
And here is another reason. Last Friday, Biden referenced the “Big Lie” concept that originated with Joseph Goebbels. He was one of Adolf Hitler’s henchmen who infamously said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
The Big Lie this time was perpetrated by an insecure president who could not accept defeat and fears the “loser” label. Despite recounts, court rulings, and state certifications to the contrary, Trump truth prevailed among his devotees. Now, “Experts warn that Trump’s ‘big lie’ will outlast his presidency,” a CNN headline announced this week.
How big was the big lie? A December Quinnipiac poll found 77% of Republicans believed the election results were riddled with widespread fraud. Overall, “60% of registered voters polled believe that Biden’s victory was legitimate, but 34% do not.”
The big lie is a big problem for Biden, who must resolve the fraud-charge issue, with Republicans help, for the good of the nation.
Only 23% of Republicans believe Trump incited Jan. 6 violence
More Trump truth: A CBS/You Gov poll released Wednesday found that only 23% of Republicans “think Donald Trump encouraged violence at the Capitol” compared to 59% of all Americans, 90% of Democrats, and 58% of independents.
Such opinion gaps are why our nation will be fighting Civil War 2.0, alongside a pandemic of Biblical proportions and a wounded, weak economy, for some time to come. Then, there is the explosive, passionate issue of free speech. With high-tech giants de-platforming conservatives on major sites and shutting down right-wing alternatives such as Parler, a new “Battle of Gettysburg” could be in the making.
The list of catastrophic problems plaguing our homeland awaiting the new 78-year-old president is seemingly endless.
“A house divided against itself will not stand”
Biden’s stated goal is to unify, and that stance should be applauded. Moreover, unification is necessary, considering President Abraham Lincoln’s pre-Civil War warning that “a house divided against itself will not stand.” And it did not, at least not without a fight.
Even though Lincoln’s words (quoting Jesus) are an overused cliché, they remind us of the devastation unleashed 160 years ago. And since we are one nation under God, let’s pray for national unification at this critical juncture.
Let that be our new “cause” and one that must not be lost.