Ken Burns: Conditions in the US are just as bad as they were before the Civil War

During an appearance this Monday on the "SmartLess" podcast, historian and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said that conditions in the U.S. are just as dire as they were during the Depression, World War II, and before the Civil War.

"It's really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it," he said when asked about the course the U.S. is on.

Burns quoted former President Abraham Lincoln, who in an 1838 speech to a group in Springfield, Illinois, said that the only way for America to be destroyed would be for its own citizens to be the culprits.

"From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide," Lincoln said.

According to Burns, America is "looking right down the muzzle of that gun."

Listen to the full podcast below: