It’s a great way to start 2022. No, I am not talking about the pandemic and cold weather, but statements made by a number of soothsayers predicting the end of the great American experiment — representative democracy.

Let’s start on Dec. 31, 2021. Retired U.S. generals Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson wrote an editorial in The Washington Post saying that there is a real possibility of a military coup if the 2024 presidential election is challenged.

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton was interviewed concerning that very possibility. He told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that if the election for the presidency is not clear cut, if there is a question as to who is the duly elected president, "that (in itself) can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military."

And if you think that can’t happen, it already has. After the 2020 election, 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the results of the presidential election.

Eaton further told NPR that although there was a small probability for such a military coup taking place, any attempted overthrow by the U.S. armed forces would have a "high impact."

Eaton strongly suggested that to help reduce the possibility of a military or civilian coup, as we saw in the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, every high schooler should have a thorough knowledge of American civics, including an understanding of the Constitution.

I agree with him.

On Jan. 3, The Guardian published two stories concerning this issue. The first was the prediction by Thomas Homer-Dixon, founding director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University in British Columbia.

Homer-Dixon’s message was blunt: "By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship."

Many state GOP-led legislatures have put into place laws that would allow them to reverse the will of the people and choose a Republican, let’s say former President Trump, as the winner of the state’s electoral votes. It would be a political coup-d’état.

He continued by saying that people such as Tucker Carlson and Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene have converted the GOP "into a near-fascist personality cult that’s a perfect instrument for wrecking democracy … Returning to office, (Trump will) be the wrecking ball that demolishes democracy (and) the process will produce a political and social shambles."

Just to emphasize that point, a second article was published on the same date noting that the beginning of the coup has already begun.

That report suggested that "Donald Trump loyalists Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn are at the forefront of a drive to expand Trumpist influence at the local level of U.S. politics."

We have seen this in recent school board and city council meetings where Trumpers falsely believe that critical race theory is being taught in public schools and mask and vaccine mandates are somehow anti-education and have disrupted meetings and threatened elected officials.

Meanwhile, Flynn has been chastised for suggesting an authoritarian-theocratic-style government of "one religion" for America. Flynn said that religion would have to be Christianity, even to the detriment of other world religions and the First Amendment of the Constitution.

On Jan. 4, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) suggested during an appearance on "All-In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC that the danger of a revolt triggered by a Democratic win in the 2022 midterm elections could result in political instability as early as 2023. He further submitted that if the Republicans win the House in the midterm elections, "voting in this country as we know it will be gone."

During the Civil War, the nation found itself divided into two camps divided politically, economically and regionally. If the new predictions are right, our next civil war will be divided by social-economic status and politics, of trust in the constitutional system or lack of it.

If the actions of those participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection were any indication as to what is to come, there could be violence and open bloodshed after the 2024 election cycle.

If Gen. Eaton is right, the U.S. military might be divided into two camps, and an open warfare would be inevitable.

If common ground is not found between the two political factions, Homer-Dixon’s prediction will come true, and a right-wing dictatorship will rule our nation come 2030.

If Rep. Swalwell is right, 2022 could be the last truly free election in the United States.

I certainly hope they are all wrong, but who knows what the future will bring.

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