In response to a recent poll showing that roughly 40% of Americans believe a civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next 10 years—a figure that jumps to more than half among those who identify as “strong Republicans”—one Chinese diplomat tweeted that the survey suggests that “the day has come when the United States, which has been disguised as a fake democracy, will be stripped of its mask by its own people.”
Extreme polarization in the United States has long served as fodder for our foreign adversaries, but, despite their best efforts, foreign propagandists can take little credit for our internal divisions. I should know. For the past five years, I’ve run a program that monitors and exposes Russian, Chinese and Iranian disinformation campaigns whose implicit if not explicit goal is to weaken the United States.
In that time, what has become painfully obvious is that those most responsible for convincing Americans that our partisanship is so entrenched that it may eventually devolve into bloodshed are not those tasked with destroying America but, in many cases, those who were elected to defend it.