I wish a robot would get elected president. That way, when he came to town, we could all take a shot at him and not feel too bad. –Jack Handey
Question #88921 posted on 04/20/2017 10:43 a.m.
Q:

Hello dear 100 Hour Board writers!

In light of the recent election, the unexpected results, the decisive and divisive executive action taken since Inauguration Day (and the left's complete inability to do anything of substance to resist in the legislature), and the steadily escalating words and actions of protest from the media and a large segment of the population, please answer the following:

- How big are the protests that are happening, and how frequent? Is there any truth to the claim that George Soros is funding them?

- Protests are becoming more violent. Is it possible that these widespread protests could turn into actual rebellion, assuming that the Executive and Legislative branches continue to discount and ignore the concerns of the left?

- If a rebellion were to occur, would it have the support of any part of the US military?

- Which territories would you see starting the rebellion? Where would the theoretical 'fronts' be?

- What would be the strategic advantages and disadvantages of each side of the conflict?

- Would foreign powers supply military or economic aid to the rebellious territories?

- Would the rebellion have the resources to fight the establishment without foreign aid?

- Given your answers to the theoreticals above, how do you see this rebellion turning out?

I'm certainly not advocating for violent rebellion, to be clear. But the country is deeply divided upon ideological lines, and I don't see that there's much desire or even ability to compromise on the things that are driving this domestic unrest. People are cutting themselves off from opposing viewpoints and demonizing those who have opposing beliefs. There are a million tiny fractures in the population, and they're just getting wider and wider. It's like America in the 1850s.

Take your time with this, and team up if you want to. I don't need an answer in 100 hours, I just want to see a well thought out and logical response (and I know you have actual schoolwork to attend to).

- Cuddlefish, who likes giving writing assignments to college students :D

A:

Dear you,

I think you're joking about Soros, but I just wanted to make it clear to the readers that George Soros is not funding protests. Trust me, I have been to protests and I didn't get paid for any of them.

I also wanted to push back a bit against your statement that protests are becoming more violent. Off the top of my head, the Haymarket Affair, the British suffragettes who built bombs and learned martial arts, and violent aspects of the Civil Rights movement suggest that protests have included violence as long as there have been protests. When you get a large group of people together and tensions are running high, I'm honestly not sure it's reasonable to expect 100% of the people to be 100% peaceful.

However, I do think that our news has painted protests as being more violent than they are recently. There was a lot of hype over violent protests at Berkley when Milo Yiannopowhatshisface was asked to speak, and it turned out to be a few broken windows. Our 24/7 news coverage means that protests are being covered in more detail, and in a more sensational manner, than they were in the past. I don't think they're actually becoming more violent.

Personally, I don't really see an all-out rebellion happening in the way you're imagining it. I do think it's possible that situations like Ferguson or Standing Rock become more frequent, though. In this case, an initial source of conflict, typically involving marginalized communities, would spark protest. The protest could start out peaceful, but overmilitarized police, combined with the fact that protests tend to attract some percentage of radicals, would lead to conflict. This situation would spiral into more and more conflict, with enough fault on both sides that partisan news networks would be able to paint the other side as being entirely the villain.

I don't think that you would see current military getting involved in these situations, unless Donald Trump overreacts and sends them in to enforce the government's side of things. However, we have seen veterans support the Standing Rock protesters. I think it's possible that that sort of trend would continue.

It's hard to say how I see these "rebellions" turning out, mostly because I envision them being smaller in scale and tied to very specific issues. Because of this, I think each one would turn out differently.

I would add that there has also been some far-right protest or counterprotests that have led to violence. In one case, a person was actually shot by a Milo Yianosuwehifujif supporter. Even among left-wing news, this has received less coverage. It's hard to not feel like there's a bias that lets these people off easy compared to violent left-wing protesters in the current political climate. I think that's also an important factor to keep an eye on going forwards.

-Zedability

A:

Dear Cuddlefish,

I'm not a college student, and haven't been for over a decade, so forgive me for not giving a detailed short story response to your question. I will address all your points to the best of my ability, though, because this is a topic I've been following as well.

- How big are the protests that are happening, and how frequent? Is there any truth to the claim that George Soros is funding them?

It kind of depends how you define protest, I suppose. The numbers on this aren't readily available, and it's difficult to define "protest" anyway, but there have been many and they have been populous. I know that's a disappointing answer, so I'll go one step higher and say that I'm aware of three organized protests, which were immediately after the results, the inauguration and on International Women's Day. There have, obviously, been more than three, but I'm not sure what occasions--if any--they were marking.

- Protests are becoming more violent. Is it possible that these widespread protests could turn into actual rebellion, assuming that the Executive and Legislative branches continue to discount and ignore the concerns of the left?

I mean, maybe? But probably not. For the vast majority of protesters, protesting is low-commitment. Despite the narratives one might tell oneself, it's not that dangerous to attend a protest in a country that explicitly says they're legal. If protesters were actually asked to put their lives on the line, I suspect you'd see vocal support evaporate. (Obviously I am aware of the violence perpetrated by and against protesters, but that violence is the exception to the rule, which is why it's newsworthy.)

- If a rebellion were to occur, would it have the support of any part of the US military? 

We are well into science fiction territory now, but no. Not a chance. The military is overwhelmingly Republican, showed reasonably strong support for Trump during the election, and I don't know if you've heard this, but they're kind of patriotic.

- Which territories would you see starting the rebellion? Where would the theoretical 'fronts' be?

I'm going with the obvious answer here and saying it would start in the democratic strongholds, which would be the coastal regions, most especially New York and California.

- What would be the strategic advantages and disadvantages of each side of the conflict?

From a tactical perspective, Republicans have the guns, the soldiers, and the territory. The rebellion would be short and probably pretty clean. For their part, if we assume Democrats can control their own strongholds, they would control the media and culture, as well as (at least initially) controlling the White House. In Washington they would also control significant portions of the music and video gaming scene, for what it's worth. Their best hope would be a swift information campaign to try and turn the allegiance of inner-continental Americans, as well as preventing the export of cultural goods to the enemy. My money's still on Republicans, but if the conflict can hold out until Star Wars hits in December, you might see the tide turn as Republicans start suing for peace.

Note that if the Democrats take control of the White House, that does NOT give them control of the country's nukes, as there is a military staffer with "the football" who actually has the last word on whether nukes start flying. It is unlikely that this individual would respond to orders given by someone who had just killed the president.

- Would foreign powers supply military or economic aid to the rebellious territories?

Yes. Heck yes. Europe would send troops and supplies to the anti-Trump movement, except for Russia, who would probably support Trump and encourage him to establish himself as a military dictator. I'm not sure what China would do, but I suspect they'd like to see Trump deposed. Africa and South America are wild cards to me, I could see them going either way or just staying out of it.

- Would the rebellion have the resources to fight the establishment without foreign aid?

I assume we're defining the rebellion as the anti-Trump Democrat movement here. If that's the case, I'm still saying no, for the reasons I address above.

- Given your answers to the theoreticals above, how do you see this rebellion turning out?

Short. Ending in a police state controlled by Republican values (except, obviously, small government).

  ~Hobbes