"Terrible place": Bill Maher warns a civil war "could happen here" — some already "pining" for it

"We have reached this place where each side thinks the other side is an existential threat," Maher told CNN

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 28, 2024 12:23PM (EDT)

Bill Maher visits The Megyn Kelly Show at the SiriusXM Studios on May 20, 2024 in New York City. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Bill Maher visits The Megyn Kelly Show at the SiriusXM Studios on May 20, 2024 in New York City. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

In a recent sit-down with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, comedian Bill Maher seemed to suggest that the United States could potentially be facing a second "civil war."

During the Sunday interview, which was meant to promote Maher's forthcoming book, "What This Comedian Said Will Shock You," Zakaria asked the "Real Time" host how the GOP, once "the party of Ronald Reagan," had transmogrified into "American carnage."

"Well I think the basis of it is we started to hate each other," Maher replied, before leveling criticism at both Democrats and Republicans. "When you hate people, you don't listen to them. So it doesn't matter how reasonable they might be. We have reached this place where each side thinks the other side is an existential threat. You hear that term from both sides all the time. That is just a terrible place to be."

"We find ourselves in this situation where both sides are literally siding with enemies of America rather than the opposition party within the country. You see Republican MAGA people with t-shirts that say, I’d rather be with Russia than Democrats,” the comedian added.

Maher observed to Zakaria that he titled the final chapter of his book "Civil War" because he feels the threat of such a conflict it is a very viable possibility. 

“This is a terrible place to be, and it can happen here. The last chapter in the book is called ‘civil war’ and you hear more about it all the time, people who are actually pining for it, civil war, 'come on…let’s do this thing! Let’s get this going. Let’s have this national divorce' — it can’t work. It won’t work,” Maher said. “Half the country is not going to self-deport even if you win every election.”

Zakaria also noted how some of Maher's fans have claimed that he has "matured too much" and become "cranky" and "crotchety" in his beliefs and opinions, before asking Maher how he would respond to those naysayers who accuse him of saying "the kids are crazy."

"I mean they're wrong and the kids are crazy," Maher said, subsequently diving into a discussion about the spate of college protests regarding Israel's war in Gaza. 

"They have this idea, the younger generation — maybe every generation does — that just because something is new, that it's better. And that's not true. New is not synonymous with better," Maher said. He then observed how he has been called a hypocrite because he previously supported protesting against the Vietnam War. 

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"Yeah, that was very different," Maher claimed. "First of all, students weren't against their own. These students were threatening other students. That didn't happen in the Vietnam War. And being against the Vietnam War made sense — it was a war that we probably should not have been in. This is demonstrating and protesting for a terrorist group."

"The left has changed," Maher argued. "Now, the right has changed also, and even worse. I mean the right doesn't believe in democracy anymore. I mean, they've thrown their lot in with this sociopath named Donald Trump who only thinks elections count when we win."

Maher concluded the discussion by offering a few grim sentiments about Trump, alleging that the the former president is likely to stoke chaos regardless of whether he wins the 2024 presidential election. 

“Donald Trump is not going to concede the election so what happens in January 2025 on the 20th when inauguration day rolls around and he didn’t win the election?” Maher said. “He’s not just going to go away. And if he wins and he’s the president on January 20, 2025, he’s never going to give that up.”


By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Bill Maher Civil War Cnn College Protests Democrats Donald Trump Fareed Zakaria Gaza Gop Israel