Crisis of Statehood in the US

The foundations of American statehood may collapse in the event of another political crisis

Another mass shooting in the United States, this time right on Independence Day, has caused the Democratic Party and the liberal public to renew calls for reforming gun ownership laws. At the same time, Republicans and conservative circles continue to support gun rights. A few days earlier, the Supreme Court took the constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion away from American women. The court’s ruling deepens an ideological divide in American society as millions of Americans distrust the legislative branch, the president and even the electoral process.

The US political system can undoubtedly handle these challenges one by one. However, they have arisen quickly, and the US is headed for a perfect storm that may threaten to undermine the foundations of American statehood. The storm will likely come during the next presidential election when the Democrats and Republicans nominate candidates no one is willing to vote for.

Democrats’ coup

Most Americans do not want to see either Joe Biden or Donald Trump running for president in 2024. As matters stand now, the approval rating of Joe Biden is steadily declining. According to the latest polls, only 31% of Americans are satisfied with his performance as president of the United States. 7 out of 10 people polled in late June said Biden should not seek a second term. 45% of those polled think he is a bad president. Compared to Biden’s approval statistics, Donald Trump looks stronger and more capable as a presidential candidate even though the latter was impeached twice during his presidency.

The Democrats are well aware of the status quo. If media publications are any indication, the party is looking for an alternative presidential nominee.

Campaign strategists jokingly refer to current affairs as preparation for a coup. According to tradition, an incumbent head of state is always allowed to run for a second term. The vice-president is chosen if the sitting president is unwilling to do so. However, the top Democrats do not want to see either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris on their ballot.

Joe Biden has lost his popularity as president amid a severe economic, political and social crisis. The measures taken by his administration not only failed to improve the situation but also occasionally made things worse. Inflation, unemployment and social divisions are unlikely to disappear soon, so the Biden team is headed for even more challenging times.

60% of Americans doubt whether Joe Biden is sane enough to do his job. Nine out of 10 Republican supporters and 25% of rank-and-file Democrats share this concern. In party circles, however, the percentage is much higher. Very few party officials support nominating Biden for a second term.

Even liberal media, such as The Economist and Politico, have run publications criticising the current US president. In particular, they say that Biden lacks energy and grip on critical issues, which results in his team making one mistake after another. Columnists also point out that Biden avoids answering preprepared questions and makes rehearsed remarks that sound embarrassing to the public.

As for vice president Kamala Harris, Democratic party strategists do not seem to think much of her prospects. Firstly, she is a weak politician who performed poorly during previous Democratic primaries. Secondly, she is a Black American woman. Oddly enough, recent polls suggest that American voters are not yet ready to see Kamala Harris in the White House as president. Ironically, her gender and race make the task of getting rid of Kamala Harris tricky. The Democratic establishment seems to have trapped itself. If it denies support to the current vice president, the move can alienate women and black voters who comprise the Democratic party’s core electorate.

The Republican battering ram

Whoever the Democrats nominate for the upcoming presidential race will almost certainly face off against Donald Trump. Many Republicans still support the former US president. According to the latest polls, 56% of Republicans are ready to vote for Trump again. However, 60% of all voters polled (Democrats and Republicans) are against his candidacy. Given that the Republican party has no alternative to Trump, his nomination threatens to plunge the country into a grave political crisis in the future.

This has been confirmed by recent research conducted by the University of Chicago. As a result of the election fraud scandal in 2020, nearly 40% do not trust the official election outcome and do not believe in the legitimacy of Biden's presidency. 60% of Americans believe the US government is corrupt and not working in their interests. In addition, around 50% of the population feel like strangers in their own country. Pollsters warn that polarisation is only getting worse in American society.

The rift was aggravated by the Supreme Court, which recently deprived American women of their constitutional right to abortion. Now each state will interpret the court’s decision on its own. Some observers have even referred to this ruling as a crisis of statehood, considering that overall support for the country's judicial system has plummeted.

According to another recent poll, only 25% of Americans have confidence in the Supreme Court. Moreover, confidence in the federal government as a whole is also declining. At first glance, this does not seem to make much sense: after all, the Supreme Court is formally independent of the White House and Congress. However, ordinary Americans are not well versed in the intricacies of the country’s political structure. Still, they are deeply disappointed that neither the executive branch nor the judiciary branch was able to influence the Supreme Court’s decision that upset half of the nation.

Balkanisation of the United States

These developments may add popularity to various movements for the independence of constituent states. Thus, Texas is already preparing for a secession referendum, while California, Oregon and Washington are looking at reviving the Western States Pact. In other words, there is growing evidence of the Balkanisation of the United States.

In addition, political analysts point out that declining confidence in the fundamental state institutions, for example, elections and an option to challenge the election outcome in the Supreme Court, is likely to force the country’s primary political players to resort to a radical transfer of power and distribution of resources. After all, the United States has already seen violent protests organised by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and the January 6 Capitol riot.

Some analysts believe that political elites recklessly instigated both crises as part of a power struggle. These events have become watershed moments in American public life, reinforcing left- and radical right-wing sentiments. It is difficult to predict at this point what implications the unfolding crisis of statehood may have for the United States. However, it is safe to say that it is likely to become the most serious test for the US government and society since the Civil War.  

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