Scott Perry

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) speaks during a news conference with members of the House Freedom Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on February 28, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Second US Civil War Has Already Begun

This time, the rebels are using their power inside the government and their influence through social media to subvert fundamental democratic institutions.

For those who are concerned that America’s increasing political polarization could lead to another Civil War, I have some disheartening news: The Second Civil War is already underway.

It’s not a clash of opposing armies on a traditional battlefield. The weapons are not bombs, rifles, guns, or semi-automatic firearms. Rather, the rebels are using their power inside the government and their influence through social media to subvert fundamental democratic institutions.

Devote the time it takes to understand the stakes in the November 5, 2024 election and then cast a vote to save America.

Wrapping themselves in the American flag and the false rhetoric of freedom, morality, and a return to “godliness,” they’re targeting the rule of law itself. Some, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, admit brazenly that they are pursuing personal agendas aimed at transforming the country into a quasi-theocracy.

And they’re conducting the war along multiple fronts.

Front 1: Poisoning the Body Politic

Even before Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, he rallied his followers with rants about the need for “vengeance” against his enemies who have “rigged” every American institution against him. “Enemies” means anyone who disagrees with him or defends the foundations of our democracy, including free and fair elections, the civil and criminal justice systems that have held him accountable, and the rule of law itself.

Trump’s agenda is not the pursuit of the country’s best interests. His sole focus is whatever is best for Donald Trump. If a scorched-earth strategy to obliterate the Constitution will allow him to avoid accountability—and prison—so be it.

One-by-one, his followers—virtually the entire Republican party—have fallen into line. Rather than defend the rule of law, they parrot his lies.

Front 2: Jordan’s ‘Weaponization’ Subcommittee

Along another front, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and his “weaponization” subcommittee in the House professed for more than a year to be investigating the Biden administration’s wrongdoing. The effort was supposed to provide the basis for impeaching President Joe Biden. After fruitless hearings that became another forum for frivolous conspiracy theories, his committee found nothing.

So now Jordan has asked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and prosecutor Matthew Colangelo to explain the decision to prosecute Trump. The answer is that a jury of Trump’s peers concluded unanimously that prosecution was appropriate because Trump had broken the law. But harassing state prosecutors is Jordan’s latest gasp to breathe new life into his moribund investigations.

Front 3: Mobilizing GOP Investigators and Prosecutors

On May 31, Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller toldFox News, “Is every House committee controlled by Republicans using its subpoena power in every way it needs to right now? Is every Republican DA starting every investigation they need to right now? Every facet of Republican Party politics and power has to be used right now to go toe-to-toe with Marxism and beat these communists.”

Likewise, Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, gave Republicans their marching orders: “There are dozens of ambitious backbencher state attorneys general and district attorneys who need to ‘seize the day’ and own this moment in history.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is on Trump’s short list of vice presidential prospects, tweeted that it was time for Republicans to “fight fire with fire.”

Another close Trump associate, Mike Davis, is a former top Senate Judiciary Committee attorney. He offered his fellow Republicans this advice: “The Republican attorneys general in Georgia and Florida and the county attorney in Maricopa County, Ariz., need to open investigations” into the prosecutors and investigators pursuing the indictments of Mr. Trump and his allies. “Then on Day 1, when he wins, President Trump needs to open a criminal civil rights investigation.”

Front 4: Mobilizing GOP Members of Congress

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said that the U.S. Supreme Court should “step in,” overturn Trump’s conviction, and grant him immunity from prosecution. That’s nonsensical, but other Johnson actions are deadly serious.

At the behest of Trump, he appointed two of Trump’s lackeys—former Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Trump’s former White House physician, Ronny Jackson (R-Texas)—to the House Intelligence Committee, one of Congress’ most sensitive committees. It oversees the entire U.S. intelligence community—the CIA; FBI; National Security Agency; the intelligence activities of the Justice, State, and Treasury Departments; and the intelligence activities of the armed forces. The appointments stunned even some of Johnson’s fellow Republicans.

Perry was a central figure in efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss. He was among at least 11 Republican members of Congress involved in discussions with Trump administration officials about reversing the results, including plans to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes from states that Biden won. Shortly before the January 6 attack, he also endorsed the idea of encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol. The FBI seized his phone, and a judge ordered him to turn over cellphone records and disclose thousands of documents to government investigators.

As for Jackson, the Pentagon demoted him amid allegations that he mistreated subordinates, sexually harassed a woman, and drank and took sleeping pills while serving as the White House physician. But Trump then endorsed him as a congressional candidate, and he won.

Jackson told the pro-Trump network Newsmax, “President Biden should just be ready because on January 20 of next year when he’s former President Joe Biden, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander… I am going to encourage all of my colleagues and everybody that I have any influence over as a member of Congress to aggressively go after the president and his entire family, his entire crime family, for all of the misdeeds that are out there right now related to this family.”

After years of futile searching, Jordan’s subcommittee found no evidence of any such “misdeeds.”

Immediately after Johnson announced the appointments of Perry and Jackson, another fierce Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), tweeted his approval to placing them on one of Congress’ most sensitive national security committees:

Congrats to @RepRonnyJackson & @RepScottPerry on these very significant appointments. President Trump now has MAJOR REINFORCEMENTS for his plan to obliterate the Deep State. This is now the most Pro-Trump intel committee we have ever had. By far.

Front 5: Obstructing the Senate

Republican Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) recently opened another front in the Second Civil War: obstruction. After the 2020 election, Lee had promoted false conspiracy theories and fake elector schemes to overturn the results and keep Trump in power. He backed off that position, but has now retaliated for Trump’s later conviction. He tweeted that that the Trump trial showed the White House had made “a mockery of the rule of law and fundamentally altered our politics in un-American ways,” even though the trial in New York was a state case with no connection to the Biden administration.

Now Lee leads a group of far-right Senate Republicans trying to block all White House nominees and Democratic legislation. As of noon on June 5, Lee and 12 others had signed a pledge to follow his lead. Among the signatories are two senators on Trump’s short list of vice presidential candidates: Rubio and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio).

Are We Worthy of Our Legacy?

On June 6, 2024, the free world celebrated the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion—a crucial moment leading to Allied victory in World War II. In the four-year fight (1941-1945) to save democracy, more than 400,000 Americans lost their lives. History is now asking their successors—all of us—to sacrifice much less in return for much more: Devote the time it takes to understand the stakes in the November 5, 2024 election and then cast a vote to save America.

The battle has been joined. The Second Civil War has begun. Ignoring reality will not change it. But complacency will result in tragedy from which the nation—and the world—will not soon recover.

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