Order Breaks Down. America's New Civil War.
There have been a few dark op-eds recently suggesting that America is in the throes of a slow-motion civil war. It is said to be a secession by Red States from the federal order. It sounds like some sort of constitutional breakdown.
Washington Post columnist, Paul Waldman, writes the GOP is mounting a "dangerous new rebellion against federal authority."Imagine you’re a member of the National Guard, and your commanding officer informs you that you’re being activated for duty. New orders from Washington? A natural disaster? Nope. It seems a billionaire from another state gave your governor a bunch of money so she could send you and a few dozen of your colleagues to Texas to do border enforcement, something you’re not trained for.
While the details are still coming into focus, that’s essentially what is happening in South Dakota: Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who has her eye on the White House in 2024, is taking money from the foundation of Tennessee auto auction magnate Willis Johnson to deploy her Guard troops to Texas because she thinks the federal government isn’t doing its job.
This is much more than a weird new development in our ongoing immigration debate, and more than a stunt to serve Noem’s ambitions for higher office. It’s also representative of a new Republican assault on the authority and legitimacy of the federal government.
And she’s not the only one. Missouri Gov. Mike Pearson recently signed an extraordinary law that forbids law enforcement officials in the state from enforcing federal gun laws; a local law enforcement official who does so could be fined up to $50,000.
It’s blatantly unconstitutional — the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause means that states can’t simply declare federal law invalid if they don’t like it — and will inevitably be struck down in court. Yet Republican legislators in at least a dozen other states are considering laws like Missouri’s.
Meanwhile, the most popular figure in conservative media is spinning dark tales of federal conspiracies — that the Capitol insurrection was a false flag operation orchestrated by the FBI, that he himself is under surveillance by the NSA — to remind viewers that the federal government is a sinister and lawless force that must only be feared and hated.
The big picture is that at this moment, Democrats control the federal government while Republicans rule in a majority of states — and it could be that way for a while. When many Republicans have convinced themselves that 1) any election won by a Democrat is fraudulent; 2) democracy itself is not particularly worthwhile if Democrats win, and 3) any authority wielded by a Democratic official is illegitimate, perhaps it isn’t surprising to see a growing rebellion against not just this federal government but the very structure of the American system.