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The dis-United States of America

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, on September 8, 2021. (AFP)

More than 150 years after the Civil War ended some in the US are worried that another internal war might break out as the divide between the two main political parties, and their supporters, is very real, as can be deduced from the words of one side of the general public.

If Biden wins, we' comin' and we' comin' in strong.

... and if I feel I need to go overturn a fraudulent election, then nobody on earth is going to hold me back.

... the original Civil War has nothing on what's coming.

What are the causes of the rifts between Americans today and why some believe the nation is headed right for another civil war?

If there is one election outcome we can be sure of, it's that someone will want to secede, whether it was over slavery, the first black president or the worst white president, it turns out, the only thing more American than apple pie is the desire to divide that pie into smaller warring slices of pie.


According to a poll conducted in 2021, almost half of the respondents thought that America is going towards another civil war and other polls show how a large number of Americans want to break up the union.

A University of Virginia Centre for politics poll found that 52% of Trump voters said they've now favored red states seceding from the union to form their own separate country, compared with 41% of Biden voters who said the same about blue states.

large majorities of both Biden and Trump voters express some form of distrust for elected officials, media sources and even both they associate with the other side, a strong majority of Trump voters see no real difference between Democrats and socialists, and the majority of Biden voters, at least somewhat agree there's no real difference between Republicans and fascists.

Which states are more in favour of actually seceding from the United States?

Well, which state depends on who's in the White House.

When Trump was in the White House, the noises were coming from California. And now that Biden's in the White House, the noises are coming more from the American South.

But in general, many Americans, whatever their party might be, whatever state they're in, are beginning seriously to think about secession.

Frank Buckley, Professor of Law, George Mason University

For decades, the United States has broken up countries and nations around the world. It has destroyed most of the original inhabitants of the very land it is built upon and broken up neighboring Mexico to form the union of the United States, and now more than ever, it seems that the chickens are coming home to roost.

Well, we're very divided as a people, the last year, 2020, was a difficult year in so many ways for everyone, with COVID, and for Americans in particular because of the Black Lives Matter protests, the riots, the looting, the attack on the Capitol on January the sixth, our nerves are on edge in a way that we've not seen in America, I think, since the Civil War, since 1861.

Frank Buckley, Professor of Law, George Mason University

According to a poll released in July by Bright Line Watch, two thirds of southern Republicans say they support breaking away from the US and forming their own country with nearby states, while nearly half of Democrats on the West Coast would do the same.

A 66% majority of Republicans in 13 southern states, including Texas and Florida, are in favour of seceding from the union, half of all independents in the south are of a similar mind while 20% of Southern Democrats were also on board.

It also gave you a general who was incredible. He drank a little bit too much. You know who I'm talking about. So Robert E Lee was a great general and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn't be Robert E Lee. He was going crazy.

I don't know if you know this, but Robert E Lee was winning battle, after battle, after battle. And Abraham Lincoln came home, he said I can't beat Robert E Lee, and he had all of these generals, they looked great. They were the top of their class at West Point, they were the greatest people.

There's only one problem. They didn't know how the hell to win.

Donald J Trump, Former US President

Support for forming a breakaway country reached 47% among Democrats in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. A third of West Coast independents, 33%, were in favour of secession, along with 27% of West Coast Republicans.

Is it possible to secede under the US Constitution?

Nobody's really in favour of succession in the United States. There is a poll done by a reputable firm, and the poll takers themselves say the people haven't thought about this. It is more an expression of people's unhappiness with the state of political turmoil in America.

When Donald Trump was in office, we had a man who was deeply mentally ill, a lifelong criminal, and who was trying very much, not only to become America's dictator, but (also) to embolden white supremacist organisations, because Donald Trump has his whole life espoused white supremacy.

Since the election of Joe Biden, Donald Trump has tried to persuade people that the election was stolen. There's exactly zero evidence of this, and in fact, after the Republicans had an audit in Arizona, it showed that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by even more votes than before this partisan pro Trump group did its audit.

But clearly in America, there are millions of people who are very unhappy about their circumstances, and a good part this grows out of their economics.

And here's a key fact, in the year 2018, the most recent solid data we have, 90% of American households had a smaller income than in 1973. Now I'm obviously adjusting for inflation, but if in all those years from 1973 to 2018 your income didn't rise, it fell.

Of course people are angry and unhappy and it's a major problem that needs to be addressed.

David Cay Johnston, Investigative Journalist

There is a difference of opinion on the legality of secession of states, but most believe that states cannot legally secede from the Union.

After the defeat of the Confederacy the Supreme Court ruled that secession from the US is unconstitutional, which is why now seceding is incredibly difficult to do. if a state wanted to secede, it would likely have to amend the Constitution, and that would take either approval from two thirds of each branch of Congress or approval at a special constitutional convention, and then further approval from three fourths of the states, basically seceding is incredibly hard.


Cynthia Nicoletti, a legal history professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, believes that the Confederate President Jefferson Davis's trial was delayed for four years and ultimately dropped because there was concern that the prosecution could backfire and the case would raise troubling questions about the constitutionality of secession.

If he were then acquitted, it would mean that the union's war was unjustified,

So my topic today is about the legality of secession in the United States, which is the legal theory that precipitated the American Civil War. Secessionist argued that the Constitution contained illegal right for the states to depart from the federal union at will.

And 11 states did that in the winter of 1860 to 61 because of President Lincoln's election.

So President Abraham Lincoln was elected on a platform that pledged to end slavery in the federal territories and white southerners saw this as a threat to the institution of slavery.

They were worried that this would put slavery on the path to ultimate extinction. And so these 11 southern states left the union in advance of Lincoln's inauguration.

Cynthia Nicoletti, Legal History Professor, University of Virginia School of Law

No state, per se, has the right to secede. But were there (to be) a succession referendum, which is something the Democrats proposed a year ago when they thought Trump might win, again, were there to be a referendum, and it will you know, it was ratified by the state legislature. It wouldn't be a nullity.

Right, so you don't have a right of secession, but I think it would be impossible to ignore what had happened. And I think that would begin a process of discussions, negotiations, a convention of  the states, dividing up would be extremely messy, but not impossible.

Frank Buckley, Professor of Law, George Mason University

The Capitol Hill riot was a wakeup call which showed that people of the United States, and the world for that matter, the differences and fractures among Americans is very real and very serious.

There is going to be more violence, six years ago when Donald Trump announced he was running for president I said we will not get out of this without violence, but not the kind of organized (and) dedicated violence that overthrows governments.

This is the kind of clown show violence by a bunch of self described weekend warriors that we saw in the insurrection at the American Capitol on January 6 where Donald Trump told the crowd to go to the Capitol.

David Cay Johnston, Investigative Journalist

In recent polls more than 60% of both Trump's and Biden's voters contended that they viewed the United States government as one which was primarily rigged in favour of the wealthy, rather than a truly equal representative democracy.

Couple that with the feelings of minorities, like African Americans and Hispanics, and you can see a great divide between the people and especially between the people and their government.

According to Pew Research 45% of Republicans now say that democratic policies, threaten the nation's well being. Well 41% of Democrats view GOP policies in equally stark terms. The most dramatic example of this mutual hostility is this back in 1960 only 5% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats said they'd be displeased if a child married someone from the other major party.

Half a century later, half of Republicans and more than a third of Democrats said yes, they would be somewhat or very unhappy. What makes this tribalism particularly dangerous is that it has grown at a time when one of America's core convictions, the worth of a free society has eroded, especially among the young, there's simply less and less convinced that living in a democracy is all that important.


According to the Brookings Institute, liberals see Conservatives limiting voting rights, endangering democracy and ignoring procedural safeguards, while conservatives think progressives are turning to socialism and disrespecting freedom and liberty.

Viewing others with great suspicion and doubting their motives, is an indication that faith in the system is eroding and there is little goodwill in how people deal with one another.

This shows that even if a civil war does not happen, there could be an increase in domestic terrorism and armed violence that would destabilize the country.

America was born of a compromise between states that allowed slavery and those that did not. And as a result, we live in America, in a country that still is overshadowed by the civil war that was fought in the 1860s.

It is unbelievable that in your country anyone would name a military base for anyone in the Pahlavi family, but in America we have major military bases named for Confederate officers; that is traitors who took up arms against the United States in 1861.

David Cay Johnston, Investigative Journalist

The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 with Americans supporting the union, or the north, with states in the South, which voted to secede from the Union and created the Confederate States of America. The central reason for the Civil War was the issue of slavery.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre found some 1500 Confederate memorials across the country more than 700 of them are statues and monuments and 10 US military bases are named for Confederate officers.


One of the main differences between today's United States and that of the 19th century, the time of the Civil War, is that the population of Democrats and Republicans are spread out, they're not entirely present in one state, and absent in another.

The divide is there but the people who support the divide are more spread out than they were at the time of the Civil War.

Well, I wrote a book on the subject called American Secession, and in it I referred to developments in Canada since I, originally, am Canadian. And while there is no right of secession in the case of a Canadian province, nevertheless, secession is a real possibility or was in the past in the case of Quebec. So, distinguish between say in a state or province has a right of secession, and whether or not secession is possible. you might not have the right, but it might happen In any event.

Frank Buckley, Professor of Law, George Mason University

As has been discussed again and again, the issue of guns and firearms can play a big role in intensifying conflict within the country.

America has an extraordinary number of guns and private militias. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun free association, there are 434 million firearms in civilian possession in the United States.

That is 1.3 guns per person! Semi automatic weapons comprise around 19 point 8 million in total, making for a highly armed population with potentially dangerous capabilities.

The issue of race, racism, economy and immigration, can all pose a threat and add to the volatile situation.

An enormous number of Americans, many 10s of millions of them, find themselves in very tough straits. Where I live in Rochester, New York, which in 1967 was the richest city in America, today, one in every six people lives below half the poverty line; the US government has a poverty level, It's 25,000 US dollars for a family of four, and every sixth family in my city lives on less than half of that, roughly 1000 American dollars a month, which is a totally inadequate income.

Our Congress has not paid attention to the horrible problems this is creating at the bottom of the income ladder. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are focused on the concerns and the needs of the wealthiest Americans, the banks and the major corporations, because we have a campaign finance system, and it is these wealthy interests that donate and make it possible to be elected to Congress, to the United States Senate, or to the White House.

So a lot of people are very angry but don't understand why their economic circumstances are worse now than 50 years ago.

David Cay Johnston, Investigative Journalist

The United States is not a unified country; neither its citizens, nor its politicians are united. Even though the country tries to portray itself as a free and democratic state with liberal laws and freedoms, It ultimately controls most dissent by force. The police, the FBI and the armed forces in the US have high budgets and sophisticated equipment that they use to control the citizens of the country.

The problem that the United States could face now is that a considerable faction of the police and armed forces personnel are pro Trump and could pose a threat to the country and be one of the determining factors if a civil war breaks out.

There's a run on guns in Michigan, really. And many of first time buyers. They've gone back to the classroom to learn, and into the shooting ranges, because of fears of civil unrest.

Sky TV

And they come in, they don't even know the process, they don't even know what they have to do, all they know is they want to buy a gun, and I'm fielding over 100 phone calls a day from that too.

Gun Shop Owner, Bill Kucyk

Some believe the bigger the better. Others want guns they can hide in their handbags, they're from all political sides and all driven by fear.

Sky TV

People are doing things that we've never even thought about doing before taking it to limits that we never thought about going before.

Gun Buyer, Lexus Lewis

It’s almost like a deterrent with anything else. My goal is to never ever have to use it.

Gun Buyer

Anything can happen so you just want to be as best prepared to go grocery shopping after to stock up, well not stockpiling but just being comfortable just in case.

Gun Buyer, Michael Angelo

One of the other issues adding to the divide in the United States is the poisonous political environment, which makes it extremely difficult to negotiate important issues and makes people angry with the federal government; people would consider drastic actions to reach the objectives in such an environment. For instance, winning the election could become a do or die situation.

The Biden administration is making such a mess of the economy. We're looking at a painful increase in inflation, which I think is attributable to the administration and its spending plans. I can see some states thinking, boy, what a mess, we'd be better off governing ourselves more sensibly, with a smaller government.

There are plenty of countries that have split up and have done rather well..., Czechoslovakia broke into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and, you know they got along rather well thereafter. So, it's not clear that, economically, this would be very painful.

Of course, when one talks about secession, what one wants to do is preserve economic links. That was the case in Canadian secession,... the people who wanted Quebec to secede, wanted to maintain, certainly, free trade, and maybe free movement of people with the rest of Canada.

So if there were to be a secession here you can be assured that people would want to do it on terms which economically makes sense. That is preserving the great free trade zone which is the United States of America.

Frank Buckley, Professor of Law, George Mason University

And as always, the differences of opinions on inequality racism, living standards poverty immigration, abortion, and many other issues also adds to the divide in US society and makes ordinary citizens angry, politicians also tend to capitalize on these controversial issues often blaming their political opponents for creating these problems and fanning the flames of division and tensions in the country.

America has become the most unequal major economy in the world. And I've been writing about how that came about for more than 25 years. It's the result of government policies that very few people understand.

Essentially, in America, we've created a system in which we fully tax about 95% of the American people. And we allow a small segment of people, most of them fabulously wealthy, to escape taxation by among other things, borrowing against their wealth, instead of reporting income.

We also have massive subsidy systems for the super rich and I've written bestselling books, documenting this from the public record. So, an enormous number of Americans, many tens of millions of them, find themselves in very tough straits.

David Cay Johnston, Investigative Journalist

The supposed bonds which are said to unite Americans didn't really exist before and certainly do not exist now. The more the economic situation of ordinary people deteriorates, the more the threat of violence and the possibility of a civil war will loom over the country.

Biden has not been able to unify the country and the divide between the two main parties of the US exists, and even politicians who do not want to secede from the Union might take radical action to satisfy the views of their voters.


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