On the Verge of A ‘Soft Civil War’

From Trump’s failure to concede to the rise of QAnon, our nation has never been more divided. A political scientist and a journalist explore where we go from here.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was named the winner of the 2020 election on Saturday, but President Trump is still refusing to accept those results.

The president’s refusal to acknowledge defeat reinforces widespread denial from his supporters and has caused some to question the legitimacy of one of our country’s most sacred institutions: Voting. Throughout the nation and in Washington D.C., Trump supporters are still standing by their man. A political scientist and a journalist explore what that means, from both the perspective of Republican voters and Republican politicians. 

Listen: Our nation has never been more divided, and Trump’s refusal to concede is only deepening the chasm between Republicans and Democrats.


Thomas Schaller is a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, author and a former political columnist for the Baltimore Sun. In looking at this moment of American life, Schaller says, “The ‘soft civil war’ is one fought over institutions and ideals and norms… We’re fighting, not with rifles, not with cannons, but with tweets and battles over political offices.” In looking at the partisan tribalism, specifically on the side of Republicans, Schaller notes, “it’s one party and one political coalition and it’s media apologists… It’s asymmetrical warfare, and it’s asymmetrical warfare only one side realizes is happening — and the left better wake up.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany is a staff writer with The Atlantic. She recently wrote an article titled, “QAnon Is Winning.” Tiffany points out the initial moment that many people became aware of QAnon was the “pizzagate” incident during the Clinton-Trump race in 2016. In looking at how the conspiracy has evolved since then, “QAnon is focused on this idea of a stolen election, which is also being promoted by mainstream Republican political figures… Now that we have a QAnon supporter in Congress where we have this blurring of lines” explains Tiffany on the connection between conservativism and QAnon. 

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