A recent national poll showed that 60% of Americans think that there will be a new civil war within the next ten years. That is stunning. What’s even more stunning is that 15% of Americans think we will have a new Peloponnesian War by Thursday, which suggests that perhaps legalizing marijuana wasn’t the best idea after all.
It is hard to deny that the historical conditions which have often led to civil wars around the world are present in our country today. These include factionalism, a rise in xenophobia and racism, an increase in the rhetoric of violence replacing the discourse of compromise, and a profound loss of faith in democracy.
There is one more sign of impending conflict that I’ve noticed. There are a large number of people overtly calling for violence, revolution and existential struggle. In a stable country, these people would be considered “wack-a-doo” and “Bucknutty”. They would be shunned and relegated to the fringes of society. Now, they are running for congress, endorsed by the very people they have advocated murdering (I’m looking at you Kevin McCarthy). They are given sympathetic interviews on cable news shows. They are promised pardons for violent crimes by presidential candidates. They are allowed to advance on Dancing with the Stars despite the fact that they didn’t dance nearly as well as people who didn’t call for hanging Mike Pence.
Yes, violence, insurrection and civil war have gone mainstream. In fact, one political party has largely abandoned its historic ideology in order to promote physical combat in support of tribal partisan objectives. I won’t tell you which one. But I’ll give you a hint. It’s NOT the Whigs.
So, if we are heading towards an bloody intramural scrum, what might that actually look like? This won’t be your father’s civil war, or your grandfather’s. Unrelated FUN FACT. Our 10th President John Tyler was born in 1790, shortly after George Washington was sworn in for his first term. He served from 1840–44, twenty years before Lincoln. During the civil war he served in the confederate congress. And his BIOLOGICAL GRANDSON is still alive. It’s true. Look it up!
The first civil war was horrific. 620,000 men lost their lives in the line of duty. But, on the plus side, it was relatively easy to keep…