What all the secession talk really means

“What you saw with the Tea Party was waves of national rallies, and you may see some of that again,” Skocpol said. “We already saw an echo of that in the re-open protests, with very similar kinds of people, but this time may be with a harder edge. They’re even more of a minority now, and they’re more likely to be toting guns, and to be tied into some militia types.”

Indeed, it’s that armed contingent—the camo-clad self-proclaimed “patriots” melding with the previous Tea Party iterations—that gives Skocpol pause. “What we’ve seen recently is something far more dangerous,” she said. “There are now armed people wandering around making threats, and we’re seeing this spreading on the internet. And this includes some very sensible people. These people are now saying some pretty extreme things.”

And as the GOP lurches ever further toward minoritarian rule—taking full advantage of Senate and Electoral College advantages, increasingly unreflective of the U.S. as a whole—there’s little reason to expect it to jettison the kinds of nullificationist and obstructionist tactics this new Trumpist Tea Party will push. Nor does it take too much effort to imagine its contours.

“I think ultimately nullification requires a willingness to defy the federal government, not simply say, ‘We don’t like what you’re doing,’” Levinson said.

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