Are we entering a civil war or returning to a civil peace?
What voters decide in November in seven states across our country will help tip toward one or another.
If Trump’s celebrity boy in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz, wins, it may be virtually impossible to pass meaningful gun control, especially the ban on AR-15-style assault rifles that have slaughtered children in schools, groups of racially targeted shoppers or parishioners, or country music fans and many others. His opponent, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, is a likely vote for such common sense measures.
Or, are we actually descending into civil war?
After all, an AR-15 or any similar weapon is not used to hunt anything but people. It was designed for combat, for battlefields, and a failure to outlaw them in our country is a tacit admission that even our politicians are willing to allow the U.S. to go to war against itself.
Another marquee race that will be vital to these questions is in Georgia, where Rev. Raphael Warnock — staunch supporter of common sense gun laws — is effectively tied with former star football player Herschel Walker, who is supported by Trump and who seems highly likely to vote against any bill that would ban military weapons in civil society.
Trump’s deep connections to Vladimir Putin were brought out many times by investigative journalists even before his 2016 election, and by the FBI and the Mueller Report thereafter. Trump blatantly, publicly chose to say that he believed Putin more than the U.S. own intelligence services, and now we learn that Trump stole highly classified intelligence documents on his way out of the White House, many of which are missing now. How much has leaked to Putin? Are U.S. intelligence operatives in Russia compromised?
Who benefits more from the U.S. society collapsing into violence and chaos than Putin?
One of the most truly repulsive American politicians, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, is facing a challenge from Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a friend to working people and someone who rejects Johnson’s tight relationship to Trump as well as Johnson’s apparent approval of the Jan. 6, 2021, armed and deadly invasion insurrection of the U.S. Capitol, tied to Johnson’s role in creating criminally fake electors to attempt to steal the Electoral College vote. Johnson has called for an effective end to Social Security and Medicare, and will never vote for gun control of any significant sort.
If the American people in Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada want to help see that we regain some balance and civility — and avoid Civil War 2.0 — they will take good stock of their candidates for the U.S. Senate in just a few weeks, because this fall they will be helping shape our future, or lack of it.
Tom H. Hastings is coordinator of conflict resolution bachelor’s degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, the senior editor for PeaceVoice and, on occasion, an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.