Pure poison

See updates through May 7, 2021, at end of post.


Over the years, indeed since my public speaking class, back when I first returned to school in 2003, I have repeatedly argued that the United States is beset by irreconcilable differences, that as difficult as it is to conceive, a national divorce is the only sane way out.[1] In that time, polarization has only intensified.[2] This now culminates in a sometimes violent[3] disagreement over who won an election that occurred a month and a half ago. It’s not even seriously that the fact of the outcome is in dispute,[4] but rather what the outgoing president and his followers desperately want to believe.[5]

They cannot envision living in our world. We cannot envision living in theirs. Even reducing much more nuanced distinctions to a simple red versus blue, it is unclear that either side has a significant majority. In truth, it isn’t even about a majority, but rather, profound differences about right and wrong[6] that Joe Biden nonsensically expects us to naïvely believe he can reconcile,[7] as with a mantra of “unity over division,” we all sing Kumbaya.

Biden’s fable is just that, a fable. More significantly, a lot of people want to believe that fable, just as Trumpsters want to believe that Donald Trump won. All we have to do, claims the Coffee Party, is talk about our differences like civilized people. You know, over certified organic sustainable coffee.[8] Having each driven to our local cafés in monster testosterone pickup trucks, no doubt. Will that be “open carry?”

Psychedelics will require legalization if for no other reason than that we are seriously expected to believe in hallucinate this “common ground” we’re supposed to possess. You know, as “Americans” who don’t even agree on who counts as an “American.”[9]

It’s all so senseless I can’t even believe I have to call it senseless.

That said, I must not minimize the difficulties the sensible thing—a national divorce—will entail. James Carville is alleged to have described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”[10] I have more experience with California, where the Central Valley could be described as the state’s Bible Belt, the State of Jefferson secession movement dies a slow death in the far north,[11] and this is far from the first or last movement to break up the state. You only have to have driven down some blocks in southwestern Pennsylvania where there were boisterous displays of support, in flags, yard signs, and the like, for both Trump and Biden, to suspect that Rod Dreher was right in suggesting that even some neighborhoods would need to be broken up.[12]

Breaking up a country is much, much easier said than done. Do it sufficiently wrong and you have a bloody and devastating partition like that which beset India and Pakistan.[13] We speak not only of population and territory but assets and liabilities. The deeper you dive here, the more potency Neil Sedaka’s lyric, “[b]reaking up is hard to do,”[14] takes on.

Were we indeed to undertake a break-up of the United States, we would surely regret it, even wondering if reconciling those irreconcilable differences was really so impossible.

Divorce is painful. But there is a reason it is legal to end marriages. And the relationship we have now as a country is pure poison.


Update, December 20, 2020: Michael Lind argues that the political divide in the U.S. is not so much urban versus rural, but rather a very few very wealthy zip codes against everyone else.[15] This, of course, dovetails with my understanding of the U.S. as a constitutional oligarchy,[16] but does not address the profound and irreconcilable differences that divide voters in the country.[17]

Lind then takes up the question of Senate and Electoral College representation and suggests granting statehood to one or more candidate territories.[18] This, of course, still does not address the profound and irreconcilable differences that divide voters in the country.[19]

My mother notes, regarding Donald Trump’s interest in invoking the Insurrection Act to remain in power,[20] that the military, like all people in U.S. government employment, swears an oath to the Constitution, not, as much as our fealty-loving delusional raging narcissist-in-chief might otherwise prefer,[21] to the president. And this is true.

However, it is also true that force cohesion is a concern for any military leader. The idea here is pretty simple: You want your troops fighting the enemy, not each other, whether literally or figuratively. Given that some of these troops are right-wing militia members or white supremacists,[22] strongly supporting Trump,[23] that cohesion becomes suspect. In addition, Trump has had nearly four years to reshape senior leadership at the Pentagon.

The best that can safely be said is that how this plays out remains to be seen.


Update, December 22, 2020: Casey Michel argues that authoritarian populist talk of secession in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat is really about seeking leverage to nullify or resist the policies of a federal government allegedly dominated by the Democrats.[24] As a practical matter, he’s likely right, but the historical precedent he cites culminated in the Civil War, which arguably failed to settle much of anything.[25]


Update, January 6, 2021: Donald Trump is believed certain to lose[26] in his final flailing effort to overturn the election results with the electoral vote count in Congress today.[27] And while some seem to infer from the extraordinary op-ed in the Washington Post urging against involving the military to fulfill Trump’s aim to remain in power[28] the very possibility that the military may indeed be drawn in, Trump in fact has one more card to play, a card with far less certain effect, the card I have worried about all along, even with the impeachment effort: right-wing militia, which are known to include members of the military and police forces.[29]

The expected protests on the streets of Washington, D.C., may well be violent,[30] but this cannot be assumed to be the end of the matter. There is much here we do not know:

  1. Really, the lengths to which right-wing militia are willing to go to to support Trump: In my thinking, I have associated right-wing militia with authoritarian populism, but also, I have come to understand that the lines between authoritarian populism, paleoconservatism, and social conservatism are a lot fuzzier[31] than even I thought when I wrote my dissertation.[32] All three of these tendencies, which make up nearly the entirety of Trump’s base, may very well interpret Trump’s imminent departure from power as a threat.[33] The question will be whether they view this threat as existential, compelling action, or they simply view Trump as a martyr.

  2. The lengths to which right-wing militia are able to go to to support Trump: This depends on a number of unknowns. First, what strength, in manpower and in weaponry, can right-wing militia field? Second, how effective can they really be? How well do disparate groups coordinate with each other?

These latter questions raise considerable doubt about the ability of right-wing militia to react, even if they choose to do so. But the third question is, how well do they properly assess their own ability? How much support do they think they can draw from the population that they cannot now count?

Experienced military leaders would know to be cautious about all of these questions, but we do not know the quality of military leadership within right-wing militia. Misjudgments have been known to occur. They can be catastrophic.


Update #2, January 6, 2021: Unsurprisingly, there was violence as Trumpsters stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. At this writing, the Capitol building has been cleared of rioters and Congress is back in session.[34]


Update #3, January 6, 2021: The riot in the Capitol may have dulled the appetite for objecting to the electoral college count, as an objection to the Arizona slate was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 93-6 and some senators say they do not expect further challenges.[35] With Donald Trump continuing to dispute the election results,[36] it seems unlikely this is over.


Update, January 9, 2021: Following a riot in which Trumpsters overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to disrupt the final tally of electoral votes,[37] Congress has indeed certified Joe Biden’s victory,[38] the Department of Justice—lest we forget, a part of the executive branch—is investigating the riot and may well press charges, even against the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief who incited it all[39] and who has finally assented to an “orderly transfer of power,”[40] and the Supreme Court rejected Louie Gohmert’s bid to empower Mike Pence to decide which electoral votes to count and which to discard.[41]

Though Donald Trump continues to insist that the election was stolen, he condemned his supporters’ violence in overrunning the Capitol and promised prosecution in “comments that perhaps reflected concern over mounting legal and political hazard rather than a newfound sense of contrition and integrity.” Some Trumpsters feel betrayed.[42] To which I say, what I said before, Dear Trumpsters: Fuck Your Feelings! Others, however, are dipping deeper into the conspiracy sauce, in which Trump allegedly moves in mysterious ways.[43]

In the meantime, due to the violence, Trump has been deprived of his megaphone on social networks. YouTube has taken down some of his videos, Twitter has permanently banned him, and Facebook has suspended his account at least through Biden’s inauguration day.[44]

It might be worth remembering that Trump really couldn’t afford to lose,[45] and now he has.[46] An old cliché is that a cornered, wounded animal is the most dangerous, but in this case, it is not only the wounded animal but a wounded animal who captured the imaginations of right-wing militia groups who may yet pose a threat, which I take up in a blog post entitled, “The danger that remains.”[47] And there is a real question as to what Trump himself does next.


Update, January 21, 2021 (citation added, January 22, 2021): Despite the absence of physical violence at Joe Biden’s heavily fortified inauguration,[48] a failed coup attempt two weeks before that led to that fortification,[49] and a looming second impeachment that might bar Donald Trump from future office,[50] the conspiracy theorist mass media continues to spew election disinformation.[51] While some right wing militia groups declined to participate in the coup attempt for various reasons, some right wing militia may have stood down apparently only because Trump told them to.[52]

It’s hard to see where right wing militia will next have a significant opportunity to strike. What’s important to know is that they are still out there. The threat that they have always posed remains. And it has to be said, that significant portion of the U.S. population that continues to believe in Trump is also still there, even if Trump’s final sendoff from Joint Base Andrews was really rather dreary.[53]


Update, March 14, 2021: Although Angie Schmitt barely mentions Donald Trump’s supporters, and indirectly at that, writing for CityLab, she pulls together what I had intuited about Trumpsters and monster pickup trucks, the latter being expressions of heteronormative white masculine rage.[54]


Update, May 7, 2021: How it started . . . and how it’s going. . . .

Fig. 1. Composite of screenshots by author, May 7, 2021, of articles when Joe Biden expected a Republican “epiphany”[55] and when it finally dawns on him that this is not forthcoming.[56]

I was far from the only one to think it ludicrous[57] when Joe Biden declared that the Republicans would have an “epiphany” following his victory.[58] Even a more measured approach to the claim, attempting to show how it might happen, turned on a recognition that they might and probably would not.[59] Now, finally, Joe Biden admits he’s perplexed by the Republicans, who seem as determined to stop him as they were Barack Obama.[60]

[Joe] Biden has watched as post-Trump Republicans, far from reverting to their previous identity, have instead embraced the ex-president with increased fervor. Republican leaders are punishing those who reject the falsehood that [Donald] Trump won the election; journeying regularly to his home at Mar-a-Lago; and preparing to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, for declining to say that Trump won. . . .

“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” [Mitch] McConnell said on Wednesday, adding that Biden and the Democrats want “to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100 percent of my focus.”

That was reminiscent of McConnell’s comment in 2010 that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”[61]

It should, at this point, following an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol meant to keep Donald Trump in power,[62] be the most anodyne of observations that losers no longer accept their defeats, that elections in the U.S. no longer resolve anything.

Such, one might suggest, is the morality of polarization, where anything “we” do is blessed, solely by virtue of the fact “we” have done it, and anything “they” do is damned, solely by virtue of the fact “they” have done it. It is difficult to imagine how differences can be resolved when each side views the other as irredeemably evil.[63] Which is pretty much where we are.[64]

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A divorce for the United States,” Not Housebroken, December 14, 2009, https://disunitedstates.org/2009/12/14/a-divorce-for-the-united-states/; David Benfell, “What might a U.S. divorce look like?” Not Housebroken, December 14, 2009, https://disunitedstates.org/2009/12/14/what-might-a-u-s-divorce-look-like/; David Benfell, “A national divorce,” Not Housebroken, September 8, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/09/08/a-national-divorce/; David Benfell, “A single set of values,” Not Housebroken, October 8, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/10/08/a-single-set-of-values/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Why divorce when you can instead disintegrate in the most painful way possible?” Not Housebroken, September 7, 2010, https://disunitedstates.org/2010/09/07/why-divorce-when-you-can-instead-disintegrate-in-the-most-painful-way-possible/; David Benfell, “‘Progress’ and the Union,” Not Housebroken, December 24, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/2012/12/24/progress-and-the-union/; David Benfell, “The ‘arc of the moral universe’ and the undefeated South,” Not Housebroken February 24, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/02/24/the-arc-of-the-moral-universe-and-the-undefeated-south/; David Benfell, “The illegitimacy of the opposing party,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/18/the-illegitimacy-of-the-opposing-party/; David Benfell, “The Left may be about to claim a Pyrrhic victory,” Not Housebroken, August 20, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/08/20/the-left-may-be-about-to-claim-a-pyrrhic-victory/; David Benfell, “The theory of the morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/23/the-theory-of-the-morality-of-polarization/; David Benfell, “Epistemology in the present U.S. political crisis,” Not Housebroken, November 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/12/epistemology-in-the-present-u-s-political-crisis/.
  3. [3]Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/; Peter Hermann, Marissa J. Lang, and Clarence Williams, “Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/proud-boys-protest-stabbing-arrest/2020/12/13/98c0f740-3d3f-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html; Hannah Knowles, Annie Gowen, and Tom Hamburger, “‘A dark, empty place:’ Public officials face personal threats as tensions flare,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/public-officials-threatened-covid-election/2020/12/13/680bd380-3be7-11eb-bc68-96af0daae728_story.html; Sophie Lewis, “Arizona Republican Party asks followers if they’re willing to die to overturn election results,” CBS News, December 10, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/arizona-republican-party-twitter-election-results-death-overturn/; Ciara O’Rourke, “How Oath Keepers Are Quietly Infiltrating Local Government,” Politico, December 9, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/09/oath-keepers-far-right-group-infiltrate-local-government-texas-443773; Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/07/michigan-sos-benson-armed-protest/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Doubting the ‘Fox News bubble,’” Not Housebroken, December 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/07/doubting-the-fox-news-bubble/
  6. [6]Marc Fisher, “The end of democracy? To many Americans, the future looks dark if the other side wins,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/end-of-democracy-election/2020/10/25/3b8c0940-13d0-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html; Owen Jones, “Even if Biden wins, the world will pay the price for the Democrats’ failures,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/biden-democrats-democratic-trump; Nathan Robinson, “Trump should have lost in a landslide. The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/trump-should-have-lost-in-a-landslide-the-fact-that-he-didnt-speaks-volumes; Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/
  7. [7]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  8. [8]Coffee Party U.S.A., n.d., https://coffeepartyusa.com/
  9. [9]Kim Messick, “Modern GOP is still the party of Dixie,” Salon, October 12, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/12/modern_gop_is_still_the_party_of_dixie/
  10. [10]Your Dictionary, “James Carville Quotes,” n.d., https://quotes.yourdictionary.com/author/james-carville/35910
  11. [11]Ryan Sabalow, Lara Korte, and Jason Pohl, “Rural California is divided, armed for revolt. What’s the matter in the State of Jefferson?” Sacramento Bee, October 24, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article246652603.html
  12. [12]Rod Dreher, “Is A New Civil War Possible?” American Conservative, August 4, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-a-new-civil-war-possible/
  13. [13]I am not sure how many in each category can be attributed to which conflict in Angana Chatterji’s description. She writes that “[c]arved through the event of Partition [of Pakistan from India in 1947], at its delivery, one million died, 12 million were displaced, 75,000 women were kidnapped, raped, to harvest Pakistan (14 August), India (15 August), and later in 1971, turn East Pakistan to Bangladesh, and rupture, fragment, and occupy Kashmir (see Butalia, 2000; Das, 2003b; Das 2007; Kaul, 2001; Kaur, 2007; Menon and Bhasin, 1998; Pandey, 2006).” Angana P. Chatterji, Violent Gods (Gurgaon [Haryana], India: Three Essays, 2009), 71-72. However we attribute these numbers, the toll is horrific.
  14. [14]Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” Genius, n.d., https://genius.com/Neil-sedaka-breaking-up-is-hard-to-do-lyrics
  15. [15]Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america
  16. [16]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, November 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/
  18. [18]Michael Lind, “The ZIP Codes That Rule America,” Tablet, December 16, 2020, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-zip-codes-that-rule-america
  19. [19]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/
  20. [20]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump sought to tap Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud,” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/19/sidney-powell-trump-special-counsel-448694; Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986
  21. [21]Ellen Nakashima et al., “Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/after-a-congressional-briefing-on-election-threats-trump-soured-on-acting-spy-chief/2020/02/20/1ed2b4ec-53f1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates,” Washington Post, February 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/were-cleaning-it-out-trump-embarks-on-expansive-search-for-disloyalty-as-administration-wide-purge-escalates/2020/02/21/870e6c56-54c1-11ea-b119-4faabac6674f_story.html; Adam Serwer, “The First Days of the Trump Regime,” Atlantic, February 19, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/trump-regime/606682/
  22. [22]Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/; Leo Shane, III, “Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops,” Military Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/02/06/signs-of-white-supremacy-extremism-up-again-in-poll-of-active-duty-troops/
  23. [23]Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-16/is-far-right-political-violence-getting-worse; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/; Megan Guza And Paul Peirce, “Western Pa. police ready for any election-related shenanigans, as report warns of possible militia violence,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 30, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/western-pa-police-ready-for-any-election-related-shenanigans-as-report-warns-of-possible-militia-violence/; Danielle Moran, Laura Bliss, and Sarah Holder, “Cities Gird for Election Day Unrest,” CityLab, October 26, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-26/cities-gird-for-election-day-unrest
  24. [24]Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348
  25. [25]Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/shutdown_shows_the_civil_war_never_ended_partner/; Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war
  26. [26]Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, “Pence Said to Have Told Trump He Lacks Power to Change Election Result,” New York Times, January 5, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/us/politics/pence-trump-election-results.html; David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  27. [27]Devlin Barrett, “Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count,” Washington Post, January 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/gohmert-court-filing-claims-pence-is-not-a-glorified-envelope-opener/2021/01/01/eeb6b222-4c51-11eb-839a-cf4ba7b7c48c_story.html; Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” CNN, December 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/trump-pence-electoral-college/index.html; Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485; Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb, and Phil Mattingly, “Congressional GOP grapples with ‘unhinged’ Trump,” CNN, December 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/23/politics/congress-gop-trump-veto/index.html; Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, “At least 11 GOP senators will back Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley in voting to reject electors,” January 2, 2021, https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nearly-a-dozen-gop-senators-announce-plans-to-join-josh-hawley-in-voting-against-counting/article_0ca10e21-fd10-5f51-83bf-b9d468534dbc.html; Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  28. [28]Ashton Carter et al., “All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory,” Washington Post, January 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/10-former-defense-secretaries-military-peaceful-transfer-of-power/2021/01/03/2a23d52e-4c4d-11eb-a9f4-0e668b9772ba_story.html
  29. [29]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, August 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/31/when-the-legitimacy-of-the-system-itself-is-threatened/; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/; David Benfell, “Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit,” Not Housebroken, December 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/21/underestimating-the-gravity-of-the-situation-as-donald-trump-faces-a-white-house-exit/
  30. [30]David Nakamura, “With brazen assault on election, Trump prompts critics to warn of a coup,” Washington Post, January 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-coup/2021/01/05/26afcfc0-4f6c-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html
  31. [31]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  32. [32]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  33. [33]Marc Fisher, “The end of democracy? To many Americans, the future looks dark if the other side wins,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/end-of-democracy-election/2020/10/25/3b8c0940-13d0-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html; Owen Jones, “Even if Biden wins, the world will pay the price for the Democrats’ failures,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/biden-democrats-democratic-trump; Nathan Robinson, “Trump should have lost in a landslide. The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes,” Guardian, November 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/05/trump-should-have-lost-in-a-landslide-the-fact-that-he-didnt-speaks-volumes; Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Election reveals deeper divides between red and blue America,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/america-divided-rural-urban/2020/11/04/8ddac854-1ebf-11eb-b532-05c751cd5dc2_story.html; Ishaan Tharoor, “Trumpism is here to stay,” Washington Post, November 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/05/trumpism-here-to-stay/
  34. [34]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  35. [35]Alana Wise, “Senate Rejects Objection To Arizona Election Results,” National Public Radio, January 6, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/congress-electoral-college-tally-live-updates/2021/01/06/954164654/congress-reconvenes-after-violent-rioters-breach-u-s-capitol
  36. [36]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html
  37. [37]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital
  38. [38]Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  39. [39]Devlin Barrett, “Trump’s remarks before Capitol riot may be investigated, says acting U.S. attorney in D.C.,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/federal-investigation-capitol-riot-trump/2021/01/07/178d71ac-512c-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html
  40. [40]Allie Malloy and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Trump pledges ‘orderly’ transition after riot and Biden win certification,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/trump-biden-us-capitol-electoral-college-insurrection/index.html
  41. [41]Kyle Cheney, “Gohmert suit may force Pence’s hand in effort to overturn Trump’s defeat,” Politico, December 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/28/gohmert-suit-pence-overturn-trumps-defeat-451485; John Kruzel, “Supreme Court rejects Gohmert’s last-ditch election suit against Pence,” Hill, January 7, 2021, https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/533161-supreme-court-rejects-gohmerts-last-ditch-election-suit-against
  42. [42]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  43. [43]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support
  44. [44]Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/; Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html; Nitasha Tiku, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, “Twitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence,” Washington Post, January 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/08/twitter-trump-dorsey/
  45. [45]Dan Alexander, “Trump Will Have $900 Million Of Loans Coming Due In His Second Term If He’s Reelected,” Forbes, October 19, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/19/trump-will-have-900-million-of-loans-coming-due-in-his-second-term-if-hes-reelected/; Jane Mayer, “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” New Yorker, November 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose
  46. [46]Peter Beaumont, “Donald Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence,” Guardian, January 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/08/trump-incites-anger-among-acolytes-let-down-by-lack-of-support; Jeremy Herb et al., “Congress completes electoral count, finalizing Biden’s win after violent delay from pro-Trump mob,” CNN, January 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/2020-election-congress-electoral-college-vote-count/index.html
  47. [47]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 8, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  48. [48]Zachary Cohen and Geneva Sands, “20,000 National Guard troops expected in Washington for Biden’s inauguration,” CNN, January 13, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/inauguration-security-us-secret-service-washington/index.html; Jeff Seldin, “President Biden Takes Oath of Office Amid Heavy Security,” Global Security, January 20, 2021, https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2021/01/mil-210120-voa04.htm; Megan K. Stack, “The Week the Trump Supporters Disappeared,” New Yorker, January 22, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/the-week-the-trump-supporters-disappeared
  49. [49]Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html; Fiona Hill, “Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549; Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Devlin Barrett, “Self-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say,” Washington Post, January 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/conspiracy-oath-keeper-arrest-capitol-riot/2021/01/19/fb84877a-5a4f-11eb-8bcf-3877871c819d_story.html; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/160814/trump-protesters-attack-us-capital; Andrew G. McCabe and David C. Williams, “Trump’s New Criminal Problem,” Politico, January 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/trumps-new-criminal-problem-457298; Nicolás Rivero, “Is America experiencing a coup?” Quartz, January 6, 2021, https://qz.com/1953602/is-america-experiencing-a-coup/; Jonathan Stevenson, “Trump’s Lingering Menace,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/01/09/trumps-lingering-menace/; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-supporters-storm-capitol-dc/2021/01/06/58afc0b8-504b-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html; Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Marissa J. Lang, “Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one,” Washington Post, January 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/09/trump-twitter-protests/; Aruna Viswanatha, “Conspiracy Charges Filed Over Capitol Riot,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-conspiracy-charges-filed-over-capitol-riot-11611080191
  50. [50]anet Hook and Jennifer Haberkorn, “House impeaches Trump for the second time, focus shifts to Senate trial,” Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-13/house-begins-final-push-to-make-trump-the-only-president-to-be-impeached-twice; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump Wanted a Big Sendoff—and Didn’t Get It,” New Yorker, January 21, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trump-wanted-a-big-sendoff-and-didnt-get-it
  51. [51]Jeremy W. Peters, “‘They Have Not Legitimately Won’: Pro-Trump Media Keeps the Disinformation Flowing,” New York Times, January 20, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/business/media/misinformation-trump-media.html
  52. [52]Mike Giglio, “What’s Next for the Militias?” Intercept, January 20, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/01/20/capitol-riot-militias/
  53. [53]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump Wanted a Big Sendoff—and Didn’t Get It,” New Yorker, January 21, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trump-wanted-a-big-sendoff-and-didnt-get-it
  54. [54]Angie Schmitt, “What Happened to Pickup Trucks?” CityLab, March 11, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-11/the-dangerous-rise-of-the-supersized-pickup-truck
  55. [55]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html
  56. [56]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  57. [57]Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  58. [58]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html
  59. [59]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Does Biden Really Think Republicans Will Work With Him? And Could He Be Right?” FiveThirtyEight, January 19, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/
  60. [60]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  61. [61]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  62. [62]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  63. [63]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  64. [64]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, March 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/