‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.”


Insurrection, sedition, insurgency…studies show, we’re not in danger of losing our democracy, we already have!

The headline, and much of the story, for today’s Around the Block is taken directly from The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, in his December 17 Op-Ed.

The headlined quote is from Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. Professor Walter also “serves on a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force that monitors countries around the world and predicts which of them are most at risk of deteriorating into violence. By law, the task force can’t assess what’s happening within the United States, but Walter…applied the predictive techniques herself to this country.”

Walter’s conclusion:

“We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe. No one wants to believe that their beloved democracy is in decline, or headed toward war but, if you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory.”

As Milbank reports, “the United States no longer technically qualifies as a democracy. Citing the Center for Systemic Peace’s “Polity” data set — the one the CIA task force has found to be most helpful in predicting instability and violence — Walter writes that the United States is now an ‘anocracy,’ somewhere between a democracy and an autocratic state.”

But wait, it gets worse!

Milbank goes on, “U.S. democracy had received the Polity index’s top score of 10, or close to it, for much of its history. But in the five years of the Trump era, it tumbled precipitously into the anocracy zone; by the end of his presidency, the U.S. score had fallen to a 5, making the country a partial democracy for the first time since 1800.

“We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy,” Walter writes. “That honor is now held by Switzerland, followed by New Zealand, and then Canada. We are no longer a peer to nations like Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan, which are all rated a +10 on the Polity index.”

She goes on,

“A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy. A country standing on this threshold — as America is now, at +5 — can easily be pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions.”

Increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions? Haven’t I been hearing of things like that? Like voter suppression laws, gerrymandering and power grabbing by partisan politicians allowing them to overturn future election results… And a Supreme Court that sits back and lets it all happen?

If this is not enough, recent events are putting the run-up to the January 6th insurrection in the spotlight. And, it ain’t pretty.

Beyond former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ incredibly dumb book revealing information that the Trump crowd didn’t want revealed, we now have this, from Peter Navarro, former U.S. trade adviser and Trump sycophant, courtesy of the Huff Post:

“In an appearance on former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s ‘War Room’ podcast Thursday, Navarro praised Bannon as a ‘hero’ for coming up with the ‘strategy to go up to Capitol Hill’ on Jan. 6.

“Navarro, using a football analogy about one team sacking another, gloated Thursday that there were ‘100 people working on the … team … who were going to make sure we remanded the [electoral] results back to the battleground states,’ which would have subverted Americans’ choice for president. Navarro also referred to former Vice President Mike Pence as the ‘quarterback’ of the offense, suggesting they had wanted Pence to go along with the plot.”

It’s kind of ironic. When Navarro was subpoenaed by the House select committee to testify, Trump urged Navarro to ignore the summons, keep mum and “protect executive privilege” in the investigation by the “Communist Democrats.”

Before I go, I just want this to sink in: the former President of United States called duly elected members of Congress who are investigating the greatest assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812, “Communist Democrats!”

This, by the way, is the same former president whose slogan was, and still is, “Make America Great Again,” but in the process, presided over a “Polity” score drop of five points, putting the U.S. in league with Mozambique, Niger,  Suriname, Papua New Guinea and Somalia, among others. Does anyone have a definition of “Great?”

I’ll close with my oft-used reference point to what’s happening in this country now, Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 dystopian novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.”

Yes it can…and indeed it did!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

9 thoughts on “‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.”

  1. A world divided…….and yes, we have also become divided….conflicted……and sadly, the future is not bright………was just commenting today: cannot envision a LEADER who can unite us and get us back on track!


  2. How I wish I could tell you that I thought you were wrong. When I leave my comfortable bubble, and listen to people outside of that bubble, I realize that we’re in more trouble than I want to believe. That said, I’m going to be optimistic that things will be better.


  3. I also agree with you. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Democrats reacting like the emergency this is. Manchin and Sinema are not in lockstep with the the Party. They don’t see the urgency in compromise with their own party for the sake of the nation. The Republicans, on the other hand, are able to hold all their diverse factions together. I keep waiting to see a glimmer of hope for our democracy,but I don’t.


  4. As a common Canadian observer, I have been expecting the 2nd American Civil War for at least 3 years now, and if you survive the 2024 elections, whatever the outcome, I will be shocked. My question is, what side is the American military on, or are they as divided as the rest of the population? Will the rank and file obey direct orders? Are they willing to fire on civilians? The side the military takes will determine which side wins. They’ve got the best supply chain. I suggest you make sure the military is on “your” side.


  5. Very scary what a man like Trump can do such harm/damage to our country not only in the 4 years in office but for years after!!! With Meadows book you’d think so many would actually WAKE UP. And now all the gerrymandering going on in Republican states, do we have a chance to pull out of the muck and mire?

    Shumer should let the BBB come up to the Senate and make Manshin put his vote where his mouth is. Maybe I should go under the bed and come out again in 50 years!!!! Not a good time 😦

    Have what our Nancy use to say about 57 years ago “MERRY ‘MIMAS” to. Sharon and your family.❤️



  6. Our constitutional republic survived because Pence believed in constitutional government, and followed the constitution. A federal constitutional government is not the same as a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules. In our country we follow the constitution, which in some cases requires more than a mere majority to make changes and rule. It may be that we should abandon the constitution and let the mere majority rule, but the majority can become a mob. We have a constitution to prevent majority/mob rule. Should we keep it or to the rule of the majority?


    1. Dear OG, thanks for you comments. I would never advocate not following the Constitution; it is one of the treasures of our democratic republic. However, it is not without flaws and not in need of periodic updating. That’s why it’s been amended 27 times. Having said that, I understand that there have been more than 11,000 amendment proposals. So, the success rate has been .2%. That’s a good thing; we shouldn’t be allowed to simply change the Constitution based on the whims of the majority of the day. But that doesn’t mean that there are not fixes (AKA “amendments” that, if ratified, might make for a “more perfect union.” I fear, however, in our polarized body politic, that is simply not going to happen. Too bad, but true.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: