The Big List of US National Crises, Part 1: Political Instability

Allen Faulton
12 min readNov 21, 2022

An Article of the Modern Survival Guide

You’re reading the Modern Survival Guide, a long-running blog that I’ve been writing to cover things that we all need to know to survive and thrive in the modern world. In the US, where I live, survival is an increasingly important topic. We have a large number of national crises that, regardless of your politics, exist and affect us all. We desperately need to solve, or at the very least address, these issues and so far… nope. No real progress.

Here’s the deal: if nothing is done about these things, they will drag the country down. Each of the items on this list is a serious issue, it will likely impact you directly, and you — yes, you, American citizen — have a responsibility to either help fix it or push our elected leaders towards a fix. As we go through this list, I’ll try to explain to the best of my knowledge why each issue is important, why it’s in crisis, and what the impact would be of failing to address the problem. And of course, my list may not look exactly like yours; that’s normal, and ok, and if you have something to add please add a comment!

Without further, ado here are the ten most serious crises currently facing the nation, in my humble opinion:

  1. Political Instability
  2. Failure of the National Narrative
  3. Inflation
  4. The National Debt
  5. The Housing Crises
  6. The Medical Crisis
  7. The Military Conundrum
  8. The Failure of Immigration Reform
  9. Climate Change
  10. Police & Legal Reform

Now, tackling all of these in one article wouldn’t be an article, it’d be a book. I don’t intend to do that (yet). Instead, I’m going to treat this as a mini-series and do an article each, starting with the first item. Buckle up, here we go.

#1 Crisis: Political Instability

This is currently the biggest problem we face as a nation — we are no longer a stable polity, and it’s the Republican Party’s fault.

Look, I’m not trying to say the Democrats are blameless, and I’m not trying to say political parties should always agree; that’s not their function or their point, parties are supposed to be in opposition on many subjects. But they are also supposed to agree on one basic, fundamental principle, which is that the good of the nation comes first. Both parties must have this as their foundational logic, or the whole system falls apart, and we can’t do anything about any of the other crises on the list.¹

This principle does not currently exist for the American right wing. They are rabid in their claims that what they do is for the good of the country, but their voting record and statements, specifically around election denialism and reluctance to peacefully transfer power, say otherwise.² Folks, there is a reason why talk of a civil war has been trending up for the past three years, and this is it.³ There are people in the American right who are actively pushing the narrative that their political opponents are enemies of the state. One of them was the President of the United States, and that is by-God unacceptable.⁴

Similarly, the principle that truth is important does not exist for the American right wing. There are people in the American right who are constantly, blatantly, indisputably lying about the state of the nation — not just once or twice, but all the time (like this crazy lady). They have been party to, and actively complicit in, a massive disinformation campaign targeted at American voters for at least the past five years. And because of that narrative and disinformation campaign, this situation is getting worse, not better.⁵

At the same time, the American right wing is pushing demonization campaigns against just about all of their political opponents while also attempting to scapegoat the most vulnerable segments of our population. Ladies and gentlemen, gay people exist and we all need to get used to that. Trans people exist, and we all need to get used to that. That’s all there is to it, and anyone telling you otherwise is sucking up oxygen from the room and actively grooming you for radicalization.

What does that mean?

It means that the far-right groups and politicians are using language that treats their opposition as sub-human. It means that far-right groups and politicians are perpetrating a form of Blood Libel-style accusations (in this case, accusing their opponents of pedophilia), among other lies, to stir up rage. It means that these same groups are blaming gay people, transgender people, and racial minorities for the problems the country faces (every time you hear someone talking about “godlessness” in America, that’s a dog whistle for these kinds of topics).⁶

This is an absolutely horrible narrative, because it degrades our ability to look at each other as citizens, encourages violence, and encourages us vs. them mentalities. This type of thing is corrosive to democracy, and needs to stop RIGHT NOW.

At the moment, it’s a bit like the discussion about cops — if you have one bad cop, and nine good cops, but the good cops don’t do anything about the bad cop, you have ten bad cops. That is the current state of the US political right. Every statement by an election denier undermines the US political system. Every refusal to take accountability for bad actions undermines the public confidence in politicians and politics. Every claim that power should be held at all costs, and that the other side should be denied at any cost, is corrosive to our government’s ability to get anything done.⁷ And of course, any endorsement, tacit or otherwise, of political violence radically raises the odds of actual political violence.

This is not a situation that gets better if left alone, it’s a situation that gets worse. I call this the biggest problem we face as a nation for one single reason: if we don’t fix this situation, we might not have a nation; at least not in the way we’re used to thinking about the good old USA. I’m hopeful that the latest elections may swing the incentives back towards normality, and I’m hopeful that the Republican leaders have seen the tea leaves and realized they’re on a losing path, but I’m not confident in that outcome. In my opinion, this is a problem that requires proactive steps towards a solution.⁸

The Solution

If the problem were easy to solve, it wouldn’t be the first item on the list. Let’s get that out of the way up front. This isn’t something that we can fix with a sound bite or a hug. It’s going to take work. But the good news is, there are things we can do about it, and these are things that we all can and should do. Fundamentally, the solution breaks down into the following points:

Demand the Rule of Law

Write your senator, write your congressman, write the Attorney General, write your local newspaper, hell, write your grandmother (because she votes!) and demand of those people that the laws of the United States be enforced when it comes to FEC violations, campaign finance laws (such as they are), threats of violence, corruption, and libel/slander in particular. If someone commits a crime, it is incumbent on the authorities of this nation to bring them to justice, no matter who they are — and delays are the worst possible thing in these cases. Demand the rule of law, demand accountability, and never, ever, stop.

Demand That the Country Comes First

Demand of your elected officials (using all the methods we’ve already mentioned) that they solve the problems that affect us all. Wedge issues are always going to be there, and that’s ok, but politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. If your politician doesn’t have a solution for at least some of the big problems, and they are running purely on opposition, VOTE THEM OUT. That kind of attitude isn’t helping anyone. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, and you need to get out of the way.

Demand the Truth

We are never going to get back to an even political keel when one party (to be clear: the Republicans) cannot find the truth with two hands and a map. The Democrats aren’t perfect in this area either, but they do at least make the attempt. Now, it’s important to note here that every politician is going to tell you that they’re speaking the truth. No one ever admits to lying to you, because, well, that’s not really what lying is about, is it?

However, if someone cannot present evidence that they are correct, or if evidence is presented that counters their claims and they keep making them anyway, then they are lying. Pure and simple. Do not vote, support, or listen to those people. They simply do not have your best interests at heart, especially if your only attraction to them is that they support your particular wedge issue.

Demand the truth, loudly, and be prepared to know what’s true when you see it. Which brings us to the next point…

Become Informed

You can’t do most of the other items on this list if you don’t know what’s going on. To put that another way, if you don’t know the truth, you can’t know when someone is lying to you. And if you don’t know that there is a problem, you can’t expect to understand a proposal for a solution. I have another article on this subject.

Reject Violence

We are currently living in a situation where “civil war” is a trending national topic. We need to get away from this idea right the fuck now, because this is kind of thing that can move from talk to action really fast. Violence has absolutely no legitimate place in American politics, and anyone who doesn’t say that, LOUDLY, is your enemy as a citizen.

We can argue all we want, and that’s fine and healthy for a democratic system, but the moment one side starts endorsing or even failing to decry political violence, that’s a moment where the possibility of political violence rises towards a certainty. And once we start down that path, it’s just blood, blood, blood, and the end of the US as a power in the world. We are united as a nation, or we are nothing. Never let anyone convince you otherwise.⁹

Reject Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories are extremely attractive in moments of national stress, and they are perversely comforting things. After all, if someone is going to extreme and convoluted lengths to hide things from you, it means that you matter. Now, I’m not here to promote any idea that you don’t matter, that’s not my jam — I do think that you’re a special snowflake, and beautiful and unique in your own way. But I will say that, in general, you should apply the following test anytime you hear a rumor of a vast conspiracy that wants to keep the truth from you: is it interesting, and is it about hiding the truth from you? If it ticks both boxes, it’s probably fake.

Real conspiracies certainly exist, there’s no doubt about that… but they are almost universally boring, and frankly most of them aren’t interested in you per se. Here’s another quick test: is the conspiracy about money? If so, it’s got a much better chance of being true. The Panama Papers are a thing, after all. In general, if you can’t prove that the conspiracy is real, assume it isn’t and move on with things that are verifiable.¹⁰

Embrace Bipartisanship

I’m going to say this once and loudly: JUST BECAUSE THE OTHER SIDE WINS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO LOSE. There are very, very few zero-sum games in politics, and all of the serious national problems we face affect people of both major parties pretty much equally.

Republicans have gone far down the path of assuming that anything a Democrat suggests is the work of Satan or communists, and that’s got to stop. Democrats have gone far down the path of assuming that anything a Republican suggests is a fascist/racist/sexist/anti-LGBTQ/Christian Nationalist ploy, and that’s got to stop. Folks, no matter what you think about the culture wars, your rent does not care. There are bipartisan issues aplenty, and we need everyone on board to even think about addressing them effectively.

Promote Real News

A big piece of this puzzle is that much of American media is hopelessly partisan. You can help yourself by avoiding the most partisan outlets, which are ludicrously easy to identify. Don’t even go there, all you will hear is spin. Stick to the least partisan news sources you can find, and encourage other people to use those sources. FOX News is not one of them. Nor is MSNBC. Turn those channels off.

Vote the Bastards Out

Do not, under any circumstance, vote for anyone who is running on election denialism. Do not, under any circumstances, vote for anyone who cannot condemn the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Do not, under any circumstances, vote for anyone who peddles unfounded conspiracy theories. And do not, under any circumstances, vote for compulsive liars. If you can’t tell what the truth is, that’s your problem. If your politicians won’t tell the truth, have an established history of blatantly lying, and moreover double down on their lies, then that’s their problem and they don’t deserve to hold public office the in United States of America.

These people are your enemies, whether you know it or not. They are destroying the nation, and too damn many people are cheering them on when they should be shutting them down.

Vote in the primaries, vote in the general, and vote them out.

Summing Up: This is Your Problem, Own It

Political instability is a problem that simply does not go away on its own; it gets worse the longer it is allowed to fester. If we do nothing about this, the US will likely be facing an insurgency within a few years.

Forget the idea that “it can’t happen here.” Too many people in history have repeated that phrase just before the mob broke down the doors. It can happen here, and it will, and there are doubtless many interests around the country and around the world who want this to happen. As patriotic American citizens, we are obliged to prevent this kind of destabilization.

This is your problem. It’s also my problem, your mom’s problem, your friends’ problem, etc. We all own this, we all have a stake in it, we all have to help fix it. I’ve outlined some of the things that we must do as citizens and as a nation. This isn’t an easy list. There isn’t an easy fix. But if you want to continue to live in the United States of America this is what must. Be. Done.

If you liked this article, check out the Modern Survival Guide, Volume I, and my current work on Volume II! It’s an utterly random assortment of things I think people ought to know; there’s something in there for everyone.

¹This is important because fundamental decisions of governance must assume the country as the most important focal point, or, for example, Congress might fail to increase the debt limit, causing catastrophic impacts across the nation.

²This didn’t work out for them, but it’s bad enough it was an issue at all.


A few articles on this subject:

This type of thing. This isn’t helpful:

⁸And no, I’m not saying all Republicans are evil traitorous bastards out to undermine the US democratic system. But the thing is… some of them are. And the same cannot currently be said of the Democrats, for all their flaws.

It’s worth noting that there are a large number of nations in the world who would be absolutely delighted to see the US fall from power. Russia, in particular, has been a major promoter of conspiracy theories and violent political discourse in the US in recent years:

¹⁰Let’s give an example; the Pizzagate incident is a classic modern conspiracy theory that had horrific real-life consequences. It was also a really interesting conspiracy idea! A vast ring of pedophiles operating right under the nose of Congress?! Shocking! Where do I learn more?! It had a great hook, and that should have been an immediate tip-off that it was patent horse manure. There are such things as real conspiracies, never let anyone tell you different — but they mostly have to do with either money or power, and don’t tend to make for sensationalist reading. Remember: most conspiracy theories are fake, and fake conspiracy theories exist to turn you into a useful idiot (someone who unwittingly does another person’s bidding). Don’t be a useful idiot. If you must be an idiot, be an intentional, informed idiot.