For the first time since beginning this series a couple years ago, I’m not convinced that it’s just a semi-satirical look down a nearly impossible course of events.
I wrote in the last installment:
The Right is, and for the foreseeable future will be, the key to any true armed conflict. The Right has the equipment, the tactical advantage, and the fortitude to wage war on the Left if ever pushed to do so. The Left has the motivation, but no ability. The Right has the ability, but no motivation.
Well, a motivation is very quickly materializing, but it doesn’t neatly fit in the political paradigm. While most on both sides have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the crisis du jour, and have unquestioningly sold what remaining freedom they had to the lowest bidder in exchange for a quick hit of emotional security, there is a growing impatience in certain circles, especially those with an appreciation for Constitutional history and/or liberty.
I think there’s an appreciable chance, for the first time in 45 years, of widespread violence and unrest. If the main actors do things in just the wrong way, a large contingent will take it upon themselves to ensure that the overbearing tyrants shove it, good and hard.
That said, I stop short of calling it “likely”. I think that the most likely result is a metaphorical “Mission Accomplished” banner being collectively hung by the governors of the several states at a time calculated to be well before the natives start readying the ropes and the lampposts. Some may play chicken with their constituents and be forced to put down some sporadic unrest, but they’re not stupid enough to knowingly plunge us into widespread strife. Besides, Fedgov looms large, and Trump would intervene (for better or for worse) before the governors went all “tell my family I love them” with their states’ economies.
Looking at the next three months, I see three paths forward. The first path is a quick return to normalcy, and a major recession in the wake. Equally likely is the second path, a slow return to normalcy skirting at the edge of public tolerance, followed by the depression all the public officials have been praying for since November 2016. The less likely third path is an increasingly politically aligned response resulting in Democrat governors of purple states with large GOP presence mistaking a growing unrest as normal political activism, resulting in them not pulling back the restrictions in time.
For the first time since the compromise of 1850, we’re in a situation where the status quo has us primed for violence. It will take action, not inaction, to preserve the peace.
What would the violence look like? It’s hard to tell. The economic damage seems to be bad but not yet society altering. At least, that the common perception. Everybody is hanging their hats on the economy getting back to normal shortly after the restrictions are lifted (which everybody expects to happen in weeks, not months) . The “V” recession. Sharp drop, sharp recovery. If they’re right, the violence will be sporadic and universally condemned.
Frankly, I find that doubly optimistic. Those that have been tracking the stats know that the original “flatten the curve” narrative is gone. Now we’re on to the “if it saves one life” narrative. The unpredictable part is that it pits the precautionary instincts, vanity and power lust of the governors against their rational thinking. Will they settle for amputating a toe, or will they wait for the foot to be gone? The leg? The torso? The nose? How much of the economy are they willing to part with to continue this charade? The response will be directly proportional to the governors’ individual and collective answer to this question.
The dangerous part comes if this conflict aligns to the political spectrum. If we have Democrat governors spitefully enforcing lockdown rules against angry Republican constituents, we’re well and truly fucked.
However, the protests are already being coopted for a thousand little hobby horses. Without focus, the protests will fizzle and fall apart.
When all is said and done, there are way too many variables to cover in a single article. Distilling down to what I actually think is going to happen, I think most of the lockdowns will be lifted by the 3rd week of May. They may keep talking about autumn restrictions, but they can’t keep this up without physical violence erupting.
My prediction is this: any state that is not single-party blue will erupt in violence if their lockdowns extend beyond memorial day. The exact inflection point may happen before that, but any state locked down after memorial day will be at high risk of becoming a nexus of violence.
My extra prediction is this: the single most dangerous situation will be if the full extent of economic damage is revealed at the same time that some governors are bull-headedly sticking to or extending lockdown restrictions. People will be out for blood.
All that said, I still hope and believe that this will end with common sense taking hold, but in this time of derp, one never knows.