Deeply divided: Where is America headed?

America’s founding fathers recognized the importance of unity. The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” All societies have internal differences, but in times of domestic disasters or foreign threats, Americans have always stood shoulder to shoulder. After all, these are the United States of America.

Events that once bound this nation together are now dividing the country. There are daily disclosures of election interference, indifference to the American’s plight, and ongoing police injustice. President Trump’s re-election campaign may use a constitutional loophole to coordinate with Republican-controlled state legislatures to decertify state election results. They would then declare Trump the winner if necessary. The President also will not commit to leaving office if he loses the election.

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COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise. The failure to contain the virus’s economic toll is coming into a more precise focus. A new NPR/Harvard poll showed 46% of Americans having severe financial problems. Close to 33% said they had exhausted their savings. 20% of Americans had difficulty paying the rent. Those numbers doubled in Latino and African-American households. Congress has effectively pumped over $20 trillion into the stock market, but Congressional Republicans are unwilling to spend more than $1 trillion on the American people. One out of two of whom is going broke. 

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Prosecutors announced the failure to obtain any significant charges in the possible murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police officers. Grand juries can “indict a ham sandwich,” but career law enforcement prosecutors can not make anything stick when it comes to the police.

And these were just yesterday’s developments.

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Every revelation only widens the gap, each side doubling down on their position like a poker player on an epic losing streak. Lost in all this self-righteousness is any foresight as to the end game for either side. Where is all of this insanity headed? The ability to collect and analyze data and apply the findings in the context of history may give some indication. 

A 2012 article entitled “Will the US Really Experience a Violent Upheaval in 2020” outlined the results of a cliodynamics’ (the research of meaningful patterns in history) study that discovered a repeating cycle of violence every fifty years in America. America’s civil war culminated in 1870. In 1920 domestic labor, racial and political issues resulted in conflict. In 1970 the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement brought violent division.  As if he had a copy of the news above, the study’s author, evolutionary biologist Peter Turchin, stated, “My model suggests that the next [peak in violence in 2020] will be worse then the one in 1970 because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time.”

Any $5 tarot card reader will tell you predicting the future is tricky business.  But President Woodrow Wilson once commented, “The seed of revolution is repression.” The police continue to oppress minority individuals with violence, the lack of consistent policy has limited the financial means of the people, and the President has indicated he will repress the will of the electorate to retain power. With the seeds planted and the garden of division growing, will the harvest yield a violent revolution?

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