But a civil war isn’t just a function of disagreement. It’s far more a function of intensity of conviction. It costs close to nothing for a liberal to fire off an insulting tweet about a right-wing statement on Twitter — or for a conservative to yell at the TV screen during Tucker Carlson’s latest rant about America-hating professors. But is either partisan anywhere close to picking up a weapon, firing it in anger, and facing the prospect of being beaten or shot in response? I’ll believe it when I see it.
And those are the people who care enough about political disputes to spend time surfing partisan websites or watching ideological talk shows. What about the countless millions of Americans who don’t pay much attention to politics? Who have vaguely defined views on everything ranging from the Supreme Court to ObamaCare’s individual mandate to Ted Cruz? Who are focused on work and love and family and find the political spectacle both extremely confusing and immensely degrading? None of them are remotely close to reaching for a rifle, to killing and risking being killed for some political cause.
Now add in the not-inconsiderable number of Americans who are addicted to alcohol or pain killers, or who have dropped out of the workforce and sunk into a personal oblivion of video games, pornography, and drugs. These people may be the least likely of all to commit themselves to an ideological fight.