By Mike Selinker
I’m a wargame designer. I co-developed the first reboot of Axis & Allies and its D-Day edition, made a mythological Risk game called Risk Godstorm, and burned down both the Roman Empire in Gloria Mundi and medieval France in Veritas. I write about game theory learned from simulating war outcomes. Like many people, I’m stuck on this as the likely outcome of our situation:
We’re facing a civil war.
Up until yesterday, I wasn’t thinking a civil war was probable. But then Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. With her likely went the last chance the 2020 election will end peacefully. She told her granddaughter:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
It seems unlikely that wish will be heeded, though with everything this year you never know. Republicans now have a three-and-a-half-month window to install an unbreakable 6–3 majority on the Supreme Court. If they do, abortion rights, voting rights, and gay rights—actually, just all civil rights in general—are doomed.
But it’s worse than that, because we expect this election to be contested. If they have that majority before then, it doesn’t matter who wins the election, because a 6–3 court will kit-bash some reason to hand Trump a second term. So the Democrats are threatening that filling Ginsburg’s seat means they will create two to four more seats right after they win the Senate, if that happens. They might add D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, or even change the rule of apportionment. They might, as my friend Cyndi calls it, “act Ruthlessly.” This is the stuff that wars are made of.
We find ourselves in a country where both sides can’t imagine their loss would be legitimate. If Biden loses, his supporters will blame GOP trickery and voter disenfranchisement. If Trump loses, his supporters will blame voter fraud and riots. It doesn’t matter that the first one of those is real and the second isn’t. We are heading toward a reckoning.