Interviewing Kurt Schlichter About What Comes Next After Our Country Ends
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
Kurt Schlichter is one of the most popular conservative columnists in America, his Kelly Turnbull series is one of the greatest collections of conservative fiction ever written, and his new book, “We'll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America” is extraordinarily good. Both Kurt and I believe an American Civil War, coup, or revolution is becoming increasingly likely and that wise Americans should want to avoid that if at all possible. In his new book, Kurt, who has commanded troops and has served in the Persian Gulf War along with Operation Enduring Freedom in Kosovo, describes a number of different potential scenarios that could lead to the end of our Constitutional Republic and what would come after. It’s a book worth reading not just to get an idea of how it might all play out, but to help find ways to save this country before it’s too late.
What follows is a transcript of our interview edited for brevity and clarity. Enjoy.
John Hawkins: We've seen a lot of politically motivated outrage about the “insurrection” that supposedly happened on January 6th. I’m certainly not a fan of what happened, but I also don't think a handful of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers talking big to each other online and a bunch of mopes wandering around the Capital like they're on a sightseeing tour constitutes an insurrection. That being said, both of us think there's a very real possibility of something like civil war, secession, or something along those lines happening here in the coming decades. Why do you think so many people that should know better, both on the Left and the Right, seem so unalarmed, so complacent, and so not worried about the possibility? Is it just something that's outside of their reality? Can they just not believe it could happen? What do you think? Because to me, I'm seeing signs this is a genuine possibility all over the place.
Kurt Schlichter: These dummies are playing with fire. You have people saying, “We, have to charge everybody with a crime,” except Hillary Clinton and Hunter and Joe, and the rest of them. This is so stupid and so destabilizing. I talk a lot about history in the book, and history shows that you can't just take the status quo where it has some sort of rules and laws and customs, and decide you are not going to abide by them because they get in the way of what you want, but you expect everybody else to, and once you're done, you expect the other side to go back to normal. Why would you ever do that? History tells us you won’t; human nature tells you that wouldn't work. It's just an example of the deeply unwise ruling class that we've been saddled with.
John Hawkins: Well, along those same lines, there's one area, in particular, I want to ask you about. We’re seeing a lot of political violence on the left. We saw it all through 2020. We're seeing that they seem very comfortable with, let's say, Kyle Rittenhouse, going to jail for defending himself or the idea of Brett Kavanaugh being falsely accused of rape or even Kavanaugh being assassinated.
I don't know if people recognize the danger of the kind of tit-for-tat violence that can start. I don't think that's a good and healthy thing and it feels like to me we're going right up to a cliff here with all this violence. It is getting very, very dangerous. Do you think that's a threat? I mean it feels like to me we could be like a few murderers on each side away from something that could potentially spread across the country.
Kurt Schlichter: Remember, 50 years ago we had a low-intensity, leftist insurrection in the United States, mostly urban. It was the Weatherman, the Black Panthers, and the SLA. People thought, “well, we're going to have a civil war.”
Right now, we have the problem of scattered incidents of violence. But the bigger problem, frankly, is the justification of it and the excusing of it by the leaders of the Left. They’re afraid to stamp it down. What you're saying is you've accepted the principle that there are ways to interact to get what you want outside the political process, and you're allowed to use fear, intimidation, and even violence to do it. Now, that you've crossed that, where's the moral guide? Where's the moral guard rail? Where's the moral guard rail from getting in a guy's face to punch him? And if you can punch him in the face, why can't you shoot him in the face? Where's the guardrail? You can say there's “well, you know we can yell at him and intimidate him into change, but there was no violence.” Why not? Explain to me because you've now accepted a way of interacting to affect our governance, what we call politics, with violence, or with something else. So, why would you think that the other side's going to go, “Well, we're holding fast to the old ways.” There are people who did that. There are a lot fewer of them now because all the “George Bush gentlemen” of 20 years ago gave us nothing but failure and, incidentally, stabbed us in the back when we rejected them. So, I always find it interesting people think they can upset the status quo and yet still have the status quo.
John Hawkins: They just want the status quo to protect them. But I mean like even to me if you say what is January 6th? It's the same thing liberals did in 2020. It just went in a little bit of a different direction. These things can spin out of control in ways people don’t expect. We had a shootout between the Proud Boys and Antifa in Portland. It’s the only one I know of. But I mean look, you can have a Saint Valentine's Day massacre, then you start seeing who's cheering and who's booing the bloodbath. You never know how it spreads from there.
Kurt Schlichter: The left has been celebrating violence, Conservatives are going to, not because conservatives are bad people, but because human nature compels them. What historical analog can you cite where some people use violence and the other side won't, maybe India?
John Hawkins: That's the one I was thinking of.
Kurt Schlichter: India devolved into a massive civil war with Pakistan. An unbelievable bloodbath. It is unsustainable. Do they think that normal people are just going to shrug their shoulders and go, “Oh, it’s nice being a serf and there's a dual-track justice system? Well, back to my Netflix!”
John Hawkins: Yeah, so speaking of that again, you wrote in the book. This is a quote: “To strip us of our guns is to strip us of our power. It is to make us accept a lower status than citizen. And, almost as important as it is for us to be disarmed for the practical reason that we can’t fight back, it is likewise vital to our would-be oppressors that we realize we have been disarmed and therefore stripped of our power. To disarm us is to confront us with our second-class status. It is the key to our accepting ruling-class subjugation.”
Now I have long thought that if the Left ever got their way and was able to ban guns, it wouldn't play out anywhere near the way they think it would. You'd have sheriffs refusing to do it all over the country, you'd have armed resistance, and you'd have assassinations. It could lead directly to a civil war. I would consider it a sign that a republic was ending and do what you're going to do because you can either be a serf or make a choice.
Kurt Schlichter: The book contains a long discussion because I talk about civil wars, I talk about guns. I think it's important that we talk about under what sort of conditions you’d actually use them. I think a lot of people talk about it lightly. But what you're really talking about, is a system where we literally aren't citizens anymore, where you do not have access to the ability to control policy, where your rights are violated, where there is no recourse for the ballot box or courts, and where you're literally facing no other way to deal with it.
If you look back through history -- I talked a lot about history -- If you rebelled against the Romans, they, basically came and killed everybody and sold the women and children into slavery and that's how they handled rebels. They had rebellions all the time. So even people faced by death, or even worse than death, they will still revolt when they find themselves faced with what they considered as injustice. What does that tell you about human nature?
We've just been spoiled because we really haven't had a rebellion here. The civil war, you can call that rebellion one in 250 years. That's a pretty good track record. We're just not used to it. So, it's not something we think about, and we shouldn't be used to it. It's a huge tribute to the United States and the system the Founders created that we don't have this, that we have a political system that allows disputes to be resolved through a procedure where everybody's consulted. You can’t always win, but you've got the say, certain rights are protected, and these guys think, “Well, you know, this system just doesn't work for me because I'm not getting all the results I want. Let's get rid of the Electoral College and the Senate and let's redefine what is and isn't right. The Second Amendment is not really right because I don't like it. I mean it says what it says, but I really don't like it. So, we're not going to do it anymore.” You mess with a system; you have a problem. You pull the wrong piece out of a Jenga tower and down it comes.
John Hawkins: And they're ripping out a lot of Jenga pieces.
Kurt Schlichter: This is a very resilient country because we have a lot of significant problems. They're growing and yet we are nowhere near any kind of large-scale civil conflict. But low-grade violence is being tolerated and that sets the foundation for the abandonment of the status quo, of the norms, of things like the ability to protest, the ability to speak freely, and the ability to have equal justice. That's all stuff that feeds into it. I don't think we're close to it breaking out. Could it happen? It absolutely could happen.
John Hawkins: Let's say that Manchin and Sinema had backed down and the Democrats got their whole wish list through this time around. They wanted to get rid of the legislative filibuster which would allow them to essentially do anything they want legislatively. They wanted to stack the Supreme Court, so essentially the Constitution wouldn't have existed anymore. It would just rubber stamp anything they wanted. They wanted to turn DC and Puerto Rico into states, to help them in the Senate and they want to change the voting rules, to centralize elections. And of course, it makes it easier for them to cheat. This is a mainstream idea on the Left and I think they were very close. Maybe some other people were staying quiet and let Manchin and Sinema take the heat, but who knows? If they had passed that kind of agenda, they would pretty much be rewriting the rules of the game and trying to set themselves up in a position where they are going to be able to keep themselves in power for good and lock the other side out. How do you think that would play out over a decade or two?
Kurt Schlichter: First of all, the conservative folks, the people they hate, are mostly the middle-class, working-class folks. They are spread out and they don't riot the same way Democrats do. They also hold political power in multiple states. So, there are different kinds of insurgencies. There are insurgencies, unorganized ones, and organized ones. There are also ones that actually have the trappings of a government. Conservatives have states and governments. So, you have a number of them like Texas, Florida… and they're getting more red. Everybody's like, “No, the Californians are showing up!” The Californians showing up are my conservative friends. They're the ones moving. It's not the communists, at least not as many. There's the possibility of a bunch of states saying, “We're just not going to participate in this idiocy. DeSantis might go, “You’re going to arrest Trump? He's a Florida resident and you're not going to arrest him. I will not put the Florida state police around Mar-a-Lago. You're not getting in. What happens then? Your move, Crusty!”
John Hawkins: Well, we're moving towards that kind of thing. I think we're definitely going in that direction. This is a quote from your book: “If America is to continue as a going concern, there are three options for its future, just three: America embraces the Constitution and returns to being a republic with some democratic characteristics such that all Americans can participate in their own governance, and which once again zealously defends and promotes basic natural rights of the type set forth in the Bill of Rights. The right controls America. The left controls America.” I think, of course, the first one is the best option. However, I'm getting concerned, and I think you are too, that the Left is pretty centered on that ‘Left controls America option,’ and they're not very interested in that first option anymore. What do you think about that?
Kurt Schlichter: I absolutely prefer number one. I can live with number two. Number three? That's not in the cards and a lot of people feel that way. People have made choices and there are consequences to choices, and sometimes the consequences are unpleasant. I'd rather be on my side than their side.
John Hawkins: You're right. I'd rather be on our side than their side, for a lot of reasons. One of them is that as you noted in the book, geographically the Left is very condensed.
Kurt Schlichter: I talked about what a civil war looks like in the book. There are a couple of different kinds and it's very different between red and blue. I don't think anybody's taken a look at these things seriously in the sense of, “How do you physically do a national divorce?” And people will be surprised that a national divorce doesn't seem to work.
John Hawkins: There are some long, winding borders. It's not an easy split.
In 2024, let's say a Republican. Let's just throw out one name: Ron DeSantis gets elected President of the United States and he's read your book. He's a fan. He buys into what you're saying. He brings you on as an advisor. He's like, “Listen, we don't want this thing to get out of control. What do we need to do to govern the country and keep it from falling apart?” What are you telling him to do? What are the policies you want to see him put in place to stave off the disaster we're headed towards?
Kurt Schlichter: Massive restructuring of the bureaucracy, starting with firing the leadership and getting rid of as many people as we can. Just uprooting the bureaucracy. There's just so much power in there. I would love to see a real change to the bureaucracy by which legislatures take responsibility. Because Congress loves to pass it off as an agency, to do all the hard things, I would say every six months or a year you can do a massive regulation bill that's got to pass Congress. “Here are the regulations we propose,” Congress passes them, passes, part of them, or rejects them completely. In that way, they're actually laws and somebody has to account for them. I think you'd see a very different government in that case.
I still think the legislature should do its work through committees. Instead of, “Here's a bill we just wrote in the backroom. Vote on it. It's been 15 minutes.” You have someone on the committee going, “Who here agrees that a man accused of sexual harassment at a college should know the charges against them? Because that's kind of a new regulation. Everybody here agree?” and a lot of people going, “That doesn't sound right. I don't want to go on record against that and it passes.”
John Hawkins: One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is something you struggled with in the book. We sort of touched on it very briefly earlier. It's that if states and regions want to succeed in the United States, how do we handle it as successfully, painlessly, and peacefully as possible? Again, in the book, you mentioned you were struggling with that question. Any principles of a peaceful split if it ever came to that?
Kurt Schlichter: I don't think it is possible to have a peaceful split. You can't live next door to your Ex. Because if you split, you split. There's a blue country and a red country and they're going to be next to each other. Look at what happens with Chicago now. Who's responsible for the massacre in Chicago? Is it Chicagoans butchering each other? No. It's those guys in Indiana who are able to own guns. It's never going to be, “incompetent leadership and my garbage constituents.” So, it's always going to be the Red guy's fault for the Blue. I don't think the dynamics are the same for the Reds as for the Blue because we don't fail the same way. We're not going to have a system that leads to disaster and even if we did, we wouldn't blame them. But I think the Democrats, the Left, Blue America, would inevitably blame us because remember you can't hit bottom if you're leftist. In Venezuela, people are so poor and hungry that they're breaking into zoos to eat zebras. And with normal people, you see, your people are breaking into the zoo to eat zebras, you're thinking I’d better change the system. This just didn't work and it's not doing what we're supposed to do. But what it's supposed to do for them is maintain power and position. So, it doesn't matter if people are breaking into the zoo because there's no bottom where they go, “We suck. We've got to change.”
They have to be defeated and hopefully, it means electorally. You look at the British Labor Party. For years and years, they were just getting beaten by Thatcher and Cameron and stuff. Well, finally, Tony Blair comes along and says: I'm taking this in a new direction, and he gets enough support to do it, and then they finally took power again for like 13 and 14 years. The thing is in any 50-50 government like the United States, there's a gravity to bring you to that moderate middle. If you could do it for years, over 10 and 15 years, eventually people out of power say, “This has to stop sucking. I would like to be in power, so I'm going to moderate.” Bill Clinton absolutely did that and that's why he was successful.
John Hawkins: So, I want to ask you about one last thing. It concerns the Left, especially the cream of the crop ruling liberal elite in America, and how they look at regular conservatives. This is a quote, “They hate you. And the best they want for you is to obey. The worst? Elimination.” Now, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I would not have agreed with that. I would have said, “Listen, Kurt, that's too extreme. I just don't buy that. They're not really like that.” The scary thing is now I do agree with you. Do I think Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, etc., would do that? I do. I think they would do it soon if they could get away with it and then all the while they'd be telling everybody they had no choice because we're all racist, sexist, white supremacists, Christian nationalists, or whatever, the buzzword of the day is. I really kind of think we're getting to a point culturally where I just don't know how we square that circle. How do we live with people with this kind of mentality? What do you think about that? What's your thought process on that?
Kurt Schlichter: I think definitely among the ruling class, the elite class, there is a lot of hatred towards us. I find a lot of reason to hope in the schoolboard fights, the Virginia primary, and the fact that Latino voters are supporting the Republicans. However, the Left’s ruling class needs to be defeated, they need to be rendered powerless and I think they've so gone past anything reasonable. These leftists aren't like the new dock worker organizers. They hate dock workers because the guys sweat when they work. These are people who want to literally castrate your child without telling you because you can change your gender. That kind of thing is a bridge too far and there’s a lot of it.
John Hawkins: Kurt, I really appreciate your time. Once again, Kurt’s new book is called, “We'll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America.” I’ve already read it, it’s excellent and if you enjoyed the interview, I’d strongly recommend you order a copy.