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Podcast / It Could Happen Here

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We know it's coming's coming home...

We dont fight. We don't riot. Even when the war's outside our door.
Four Fists, "Joe Strummer" (theme song of the podcast)

It Could Happen Here is a 2019 podcast created by Robert Evans of Cracked fame. Evans' podcast looks at potential disasters and events and examines what their fallout could be, laying out what happens as each domino falls. The first season examines the political divide in the United States that was intensified by the 2016 elections, and does a What If? on the idea if the divisions were to spiral into a full-out civil war.

Citing actual civil wars that are currently going on, along with other trends seen, the podcast details how such a war would realistically look like in the US, and what factions would be active during such an event.

Listen to the podcast here. See also Evans' other work Behind the Bastards, a much more light-hearted work concerning the kind of person who could end up starting such a scenario in real life. He has also writen a novel based on many of the ideas presented in this podcast called After the Revolution. In August 2021, Evans announced that he was making a continuation of the podcast, called It Could Happen Here Daily, which discusses other factors in society that could contribute to collapse beyond a civil war.

The first season of this podcast contains examples of:

  • A Nuclear Error: One episode points out that it is unlikely for the US government to deploy nuclear weapons on US soil. However, it is very possible for such a weapon to fall out of US control by sheer incompetence and into the hands of the many rogue factions during the war, citing actual incidents from military divisions that control nuclear arms.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Both played straight and....averted. While in the narration the fall of the US government results in large amounts of chaos in the land, Evans also details how it's not a guarantee that a government pullout would turn into a Hobbesian nightmare. He also cites a real-life event during Hurricane Katrina where relief workers were expecting hell, but ended up finding very little violence and destruction save for the hurricane. The narration, details your city being abandoned by the US government, and life becoming....semi-normal afterwards. Until the Dominionist forces show up of course. He's also aware of real anarchist and libertarian ideas of alternate social orders, saying that he sympathizes with them, going into a bit of detail about how they might be used.
  • Balkanize Me: The ultimate fate of the United States in the narration segments.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: One of the factions in the war are left-wing militias.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The show mentions Alex Jones and goes into his conspiracist rants at length, explaining that people like him (especially since he has a massive following) are dangerous rather than just harmless cranks, since he's pushed for violence against people (liberals or the LGBT), he claims are really vicious criminals. Rhetoric like this, Evans believes, could push extremists to act on his words.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Evans' lighthearted, if not darkly humorous show Behind The Bastards, there is very little humor in the first season of the show besides a dry joke here and there, and it focuses mainly on the horrors a second civil war would bring. The second season however, features the usual humor we have come to expect from Bastards, as the format is more of a news and educational show.
  • Divided States of America: The entire point of the podcast is to explore the current (as of 2019) political divide and ask "what if it became bloody?" The work goes out of its way to point out that more likely than not, a new civil war would be more like the Syrian Civil War, with multiple small factions of all political stripes all fighting each other, with an increasingly oppressive and desperate federal government attempting to keep control.
  • Downer Ending: The narration told from episode to episode ends like this. While you survive the war, many of your friends and family do not, and you end up working as a border guard in a new nation in the Pacific Northwest. While the nation you end up in is doing sorta ok, at least by the standards of the new world, what is left of the American South is reduced to effectively a third world nation led by religious fanatics. As for the rest of the world, since the US functioned as one of the largest exporters of food, the loss of it results in worldwide famines, which are NOT helped by global climate change. Most nations in the wake of the former US are considered failed states.
  • Enemy Mine: A couple episodes discuss how right-wing insurgencies and left-wing insurgencies could possibly set aside their differences for trading purposes. One episode talks about left-wing insurgents trading drone equipment for firearms from right-wing insurgents. The episode How to Murder a City discusses the US government allying with ruthless militia groups in an effort to regain control in contested areas.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: The narrator notes that American elites would be some of the first people to become refugees and the ones who would have the least amount of problems, being able to buy passage out of the country and visas in Canada or Europe.
  • Fallen States of America: In the hypothetical narration presented, before the war, the US wasn't doing so hot, having its economy wrecked by a massive economic downturn. Of course, the war eventually results in its death; leaving behind a mixture of impoverished new nations in its wake with an uncertain future.
  • From Bad to Worse: While Evans cautions that some of the scenarios he talks about would be "unlikely", he does also mention that the unofficial theme of the series is "It can always get darker", and episodes detail just how bad things realistically could go to shit.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: A couple episodes detail how military personnel can make excellent insurgents should they decide to go against the US government. Evans cites Christopher Dorner as an example of this.
  • Gaia's Lament: Part of the downer ending above. The former United States is wrecked by the consequences of climate change (and the states that remain in the power vacuum are unable to deal with it as effectively as the federal government would have.) Wildfire season is said to be 6 months out of the year, the coastal areas are flooded by rising tides, and the South and Midwest are left uninhabitable by constant mudslides and tornadoes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One episode discusses Foucault's boomerang, which in a nutshell argues that practices that major world powers do to smaller nations or colonies are eventually used back on their own citizens. The episode discusses how many military tactics and what not used in the current War on Terror would fit right at home during the war.
  • Mle Trois: Unlike the historical civil war with two distinct sides, the hypothetical one has multiple right-wing militia groups, left-wing groups, and a harried federal government all fighting with and against each other in the divided United States.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The narration segments start off in 2024, although there are some flash back scenes to shortly after the day the podcast was released. (2019).
  • Oppressive States of America: The episode The State Strikes Back discusses what the US government (specifically, the federal government) would do as early attempts at appeasing the masses. The "story" segments of the work assume that this fails horribly, and the US government becomes more and more tyrannical as it desperately tries to maintain the crumbling peace.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The various militia groups in the narration are by no means angels, especially the Christian Dominionists. Evans states that an actual 2nd American Civil War would have multiple factions involved; nothing like the first civil war.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Christian Dominionists end up taking over many of the former southern states, after years of brutal conflict with other armed groups and occasionally even support from the failing federal government.
  • Second American Civil War: The opening vignettes depict life in the United States during a multi-polar civil war between the crumbling remains of the federal government, Secessionists, Christian Dominionists, Left-Wing Extremists, and American Loyalists. The overall framing of the war is much less like the clashing armies of the First American Civil War and much more like the asymmetric "fourth-generation warfare" of the Syrian Civil War and the first season focuses on the theme.
  • Second-Person Narration: The story sequences are these, where Evans details how your character manages to get by as the war goes from bad to worse.
  • War Refugees: The podcast details how the war would make these by the bucketful.

The second season of this podcast contains examples of:

  • Lighter and Softer: The second season in comparison to the first season. Minus the opening episodes of the second season, which focus on a collapse of the US due to a combination of climate change and political instability, the second season is more of a daily news show with the usual humor that the audience has come to expect from Evans' other shows like Behind The Bastards.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The majority of season 2 has episodes discussing recent news stories, although the creators make it a point to not release an episode right when an event happens, and try to ensure enough information is available before discussing it.
  • Second-Person Narration: The opening episodes of the second season feature this in the narration segments.