American Civil War? Richard Hanania thinks it unlikely

  
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For this episode of Unsupervised Learning, I talked to Richard Hanania of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology. Normally my goal is to record podcasts that aren’t particularly time-sensitive (e.g., my conversation last weekend with Alina Chan about the possibility of “lab leak” of SARS-Cov-2 will be fresh for months, as will my chat with Armand Leroi about race, eugenics, and Aristotle). They only reach free listeners a couple of weeks after going live for paid subscribers and my hope is that the content will remain evergreen long after both. But this is not an ordinary time, and like many, I’ve been wondering what to say in this moment that might add value.

Richard is a smart and heterodox thinker whose ideas and opinions are informed by his background as a scholar of political science. He’s not “winging it.” Last fall The Washington Post published his op-ed, Americans hate each other. But we aren’t headed for civil war. My big question for him was if he had updated his assessment in light of recent events. We recorded this tonight, January 12th and I’m releasing it immediately to both paid and free subscribers to Unsupervised Learning because his insights and assessments are timely.

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In addition to talking about whether the US will erupt in civil war or suffer a coup in the next decade, we also discuss a new report he co-authored, The National Populist Illusion: Why Culture, Not Economics, Drives American Politics. The conclusion is that a populist economic realignment isn’t happening, and in much of the podcast we discuss Richard’s belief that Republicans and Democrats will “regress to the mean.” He believes Donald J. Trump is a sui generis figure, and with his exit, Republicans will probably want to revert to their old playbook.

We also mull over the possibility that the “Great Awokening,” a phenomenon first identified by one of the fellows at Richard’s think-tank, Zach Goldberg,* still has steam left in it, and what that means for the Biden administration.

Finally, while recording the podcast we uncover intriguing evidence that Jon Ossoff, Senator-Elect from Georgia, is “I.D.W.-adjacent.”

* It has been brought to my attention that “Spotted Toad” had been using the term “Great Awokening” in the fall of 2017.

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