So what would a civil war look like in modern America? It’s likely far less exciting than what you imagine, at least at first.

Tyler S. Farley

With so much division in the country, it has many people speculating about a possible civil war that could break out in the near future.

A recent NBC poll shows that 70% of the nation believes the country cannot come together and that the divide will only grow larger.

When asked to describe the state of the country, the most popular responses in the poll were “downhill,” “divisive,” “negative,” “struggling,” “lost” and “bad”.

Such numbers and adjectives point a bleak picture and help fuel speculation that maybe some sort of civil war is inevitable.

In most of these scenarios, people seem to envision Democrats and Republicans fighting it out in the streets, however this is not likely at all.

Although the divide in this nation does fall down mostly political lines, the rank and file members of those political sides have no real reason to fight in the streets.

In most countries that have civil wars, long standing cultural or religious beliefs are at the root of the conflict. This adds a high degree of motivation for the fighting. It becomes very personal, and the anger is directly towards the other group and those individuals within it.

In the current American political divide, most of the anger by both sides is towards the government which both sides see as corrupt, just in different ways. So while they may dislike each other for believing the government they claim is wrong, the anger is still mostly towards the government, not the individuals from either side. At least not enough to kill each other in huge numbers over.

So then if the people won’t be fighting each other, what would a modern civil war in America actually look like?

For starters, it won’t look like much at all and will most likely begin as a small event within a state.

So a possible hypothetical example is as follows. A small group within a state sympathetic to their cause will declare complete autonomy from the federal government. They won’t be engaged in any other illegal activity. They will simply declare they no longer recognize the federal government as legitimate, and they choose to live outside of their control and laws.

Assuming the number of people in this group is large enough, it will present a problem for both the state and the federal government. Assuming the group numbers in the thousands, a simple police force or SWAT team will not be enough to go in and regain control. It would require an actual battle that may take days or weeks depending on how things go. The states, the population, and the federal government most likely won’t have the stomach for such a fight.

However, the group will need to be dealt with to maintain control. So likely the government will block all roads and access to try to “starve them out” essentially. This will likely then attract others to either join in solidarity. It may also cause others to join the opposite camp, and declare the government needs to eradicate this group.

Over time, this divide is what would lead to a civil war. It may stay simply as one group that refuses federal authority, or possibly if enough citizens join the opposing viewpoint, it may extend to individuals fighting each other.

In any event, such a hypothetical scenario would most likely play out over months and even years. Early attempts may be quickly squashed, but eventually one could form that was large enough to sustain itself and fend off immediate action.

As mentioned, this is a hypothetical example of what may happen one day. It’s very likely some unforeseen large event could happen in the meantime that completely changes the landscape and attitudes of everyone, as we’ve seen with the pandemic. It could be another pandemic, war, or severe economic shocks.

But if you were expecting liberals and conservatives to be fighting in the streets the way they do on cable news, that’s probably not in the cards.


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