Of all the reasons to start a civil war, preserving slavery is the worst. But keeping President Trump in power is pretty high up on the list.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted the following statement by evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”
The same people who mocked Hillary Clinton’s voters for grieving after the 2016 election now say they will start a civil war if Trump is impeached in accordance with the Constitution.
Their premonitions are a sign of weakness. If you cannot argue your case with logic and evidence, you can appeal to faith or resort to threats of violence. Trump has done both. Prior to the 2018 midterms, Trump told a group of Christian leaders, “This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me. It’s a referendum on your religion. It’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It’s a referendum on so much. It’s not a question of like or dislike. It’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they will do it quickly and violently.”
In March, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) posted a meme about a civil war between red states and blue states. King used to hang a Confederate flag in his office despite the fact that he’s from Iowa. As it happens, people who claim to love America the most tend to fetishize Confederate memorabilia the most.
Nationalists are not always patriots. Patriots love their country as it is. Nationalists love their country as they imagine it once was, and sometimes not even then. “There seems to be a thin line between violent, extreme nationalism and treason,” Harold Ettlinger wrote in The Axis on the Air. “It seems that a man is a fascist before he is an American or a Frenchman or a Norwegian, and that he will betray his country in the interests of fascism. One moment, being a fascist, he is violently nationalistic, working for a political creed which involves exalting his own country above others. The next moment, having been frustrated in his aims, he turns against his country and fights for its downfall, or sees to it, if it has already fallen, that it does not rise again.”