“I think it’s a civil war,” Zach Scherer told me.

We sat on his back Trump-branded pickup earlier this week when he made the prediction.

“I think that’s the only thing that can bring America together after this election, if we lose.”

Civil war? When I moved to America a year ago, I remember people instilling this fear. I remember thinking they were crazy. How could anyone believe that “the world’s greatest democracy,” as it is sometimes fondly described, could be headed for civil war?

I have reported from many failed or failed states over the years. It seemed absurd to believe that the United States of America could be among them.

Well, a year later, my view is changing and I am deeply concerned.

Armies and fronts are not formed in the traditional sense. But make no mistake, there are armies and there are front lines. The fault lines run alarmingly deep. It would be wrong to think that America can just breeze through this turning point in its history.

A recent poll shows that a growing number of Americans believe that political violence is acceptable. Just last week, the husband of the nation’s third-largest politician, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was attacked in their house. Police say she was targeted.

On the same day as the attack, authorities warned that threats of violence against politicians across the country had increased massively.

The nation is deeply divided, and there’s one thing that’s fueling that excitement — about a third of voting-age people in this country believe the 2020 election was stolen. They believe that Donald Trump won.

Doubt sown into the fabric of American society

If you’ve spent the last two years thinking this was a fringe view offered by a former president; con artist who can now be dismissed as background noise, think again.

Doubts have been sown into the fabric of American society. People were deceived. They reject the institutions on which American democracy was built. They were told not to trust their electoral process.

Back in the pickup, Mr. Scherer’s friend, Corey Check, was angry. These two young disciples of Mr. Trump are adamant that the election was stolen by Joe Biden and the “left-wing radicals who woke up.”

“Everything. Everything is at stake. America is at stake. If we lose it, our country will go to hell…” – said Mr. Check.

All of these Republicans saw Donald Trump as the legitimate winner in 2020

Loyalists still believe Trump won

Shocked by their stark predictions, I sought out another generation of Republicans, hoping for a more measured and nuanced perspective.

Local campaigner Cindy Hilderbrand invited me to meet with a group of six friends and activists at the local Republican Party headquarters.

My first question is how many of them thought Mr. Trump was the legitimate winner in 2020? All hands went up.

“Definitely won,” said retired U.S. Marine Paul Garcia.

He was interrupted by another member of the group, Cheryl Guenther: “… and it wasn’t just election day shenanigans. It was everything that led up to it. The silencing of the news, the silencing of everything that happened, was caused by the media. The media is not what else but the hand of the Democrats helping to suppress all this information.”

To be clear, there is no evidence that the 2020 election was rigged. Audits, recounts and lawsuits in states across the country have shown that nothing happened to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Biden won by a wide margin.

Even Mr. Trump’s closest aides and his own family said he had lost. Still, he persists, and his loyalists believe him.

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Golfer Trump mocks White House successor Biden

Conspiracy theories spread faster than facts

Our conversation turns to political issues. They all have perfectly legitimate conservative views on abortion, crime, drugs, guns, the economy. In broad terms, abortion is wrong, crime and drugs are out of control, gun control is unconstitutional, and the economy is suffering is Mr. Biden’s fault.

But here’s the problem. They believe they can’t get their way on these political issues, not because the majority disagrees with them, but because the minority stole their last election.

American society is locked in echo chambers. They wildly consume partisan cable news, believe social media bullshit, and reject factual reporting. Conspiracy theories spread faster than facts.

“I think there is a real threat to democracy,” Ryan says

The threat to democracy is “understated”

Nearby, at a rally for a local Democratic candidate, I spoke with a young Democratic voter, a man of the same age as Mr. Scherer and Mr. Check, but with different perspectives.

Was this idea of ​​a threat to democracy overstated, I asked.

“I think that might be an understatement. I think there is a real threat to democracy in this country, and that really scares me,” Ryan told me.

“I don’t want to finish like what we’ve seen in Europe in the past. If we don’t learn the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat it, and we need to support democracy to keep going, or we I’m worried too.”

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Because America is going to the polls for this intermediate accept the direction of the country, the anger and division cannot be overstated.

Thinking back on all the conversations I’ve had, it’s shocking and surprising.

There is so much going on; so many problems and there is absolutely no trust in the other side. There is anger and a sense of betrayal, but I also felt fear. There is a real sense that Americans on all sides do not know what will happen next or how they will react to it.


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