America’s Third Civil War is not a new topic. Typically, people have spoken a “culture wars” which sounds less violent than “civil war.” But underneath the more refined talk of a difference in culture or values was the threat of violence. That violence spilled out into the open on January 6, 2021. Now people are wondering if that was a one-time event or whether it signaled the elevation of a verbal conflict to a physical one: are we at Defcon OMG!?
The Third Civil War: A Look Back
In December, 2019, The Atlantic magazine cover proclaimed the need to act to prevent the culture wars from becoming violent civil war. In December 2020, I decided to do an anniversary examination of the articles in that issue. The goal was to compare what the writers thought back then with what had actually happened since their articles were written.
I did manage to write a couple of blogs that did just that. The blogs were
I thought I would be able to proceed in a nice methodical and leisurely manner through the magazine reviewing what people had written. Little did I know that the President of the United States would launch a “Steal the Election” campaign to undermine American democracy. Little did I know how far he would go to prevent the country from being able to celebrate its 250th anniversary because it no longer existed as a constitutional republic. As a result, I had to recalibrate. Perhaps I will resume this retrospective after January 20, 2021, depending on what happens.
AMERICA’S THIRD CIVIL WAR
My first foray into America’s Third Civil War occurred during a battle for a Supreme Court appointment
After writing about the first civil war in the American Revolution and the second civil war in the Civil War, I turned to the third one.
The third civil is different from the previous two.
It may be said to have begun in the 1960s. At that time, baby boomer males could be drafted into a war they did not want to fight and baby boomer females could have babies they did not want to have.
It may be said to have begun on August 17, 1992, when Pat Buchanan delivered his “Culture War” speech to the Republican National Convention.
It may be said to have begun in 2008 with Sarah Palin’s rally cry “to take back the country.”
Regardless of the preliminaries, history may well record that with the contentious and close vote on October 6, 2018, of 50-48 between Kava-Yeses and Kava-Noes the battle was fully engaged. There is no turning back now. When Charles Blow writes an op-ed in the New York Times that “Liberals, This Is War,” he fails to recognize that for conservatives it has been war for decades and appointing a fifth Republican legislator to the Supreme Court is a long overdue victory.
As with America’s first civil war, America’s third civil war will be intensely divisive at the local level. People who have known each other for years as best friends for life suddenly will morph into combatants. The family Thanksgiving meal will become a battleground. While it will be illegal for Kava-Noes and Kava-Yeses to marry, there is always the possibility that some of the guests will be from opposite sides of the divide. Any social engagement will run the risk of degenerating into a brawl. Hosts and hostesses will be obligated to do due diligence to ensure a peaceful event. College admission officers will need to scrutinize applicants carefully to maintain the purity of the campus. God forbid people from different sides should be assigned as roommates! In short, people will constantly have to be on guard to make sure they know when it is safe to speak….
[W]e have a president who feasts on divisiveness. There will be no “come let us reason together” in this administration. Far from it. Instead he will stoke the flames of hatred and rejoice in the dividing of America. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very idea of We the People. Never have We the People had a president who is so willing, eager, and ready to campaign on behalf of hatred. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very goal of e pluribus unum, a motto that has been abandoned by both national political parties and mocked by our president. But there should not be any surprise that our president promotes the division of the country. What else would you expect from Putin’s poodle?
In general terms, the preview has come true. The Senate vote on the judicial appointment did not prove to be the breaking point nor did the judicial appointment two years later just before the presidential election. I was still writing from a cultural wars perspective and not a physical war with deaths from violence. I expected the presidential election to be the point of no return.
In my second blog on America’s Third Civil War (7/23/19), I quoted Nancy Pelosi saying:
This coming election, it is really an election that the fate of this country is riding on. This presidency is an existential threat to our democracy and our country as we know it.
Turns out she was exactly right. During the second impeachment she almost said the same words only now the election was in the past tense. Still the conflict was verbal. Then it changed.
JANUARY 6, 2021
Now the war has turned violent. My two political thriller blogs Seven Days in January: This Time It Is Not a Movie and Seven Days in January: Impeached Again were written immediately before and after the failed insurrection attempt. What happens now?
For the domestic trumperists, there are consequences to their actions.
1. They face the prospect of prison time.
2. They face mounting and expensive legal bills.
3. They may have lost their job.
4. They may rethink what it means to assault the government in the real world as opposed to at a political rally or in online chatter.
On the other hand, for many who participated in the attack or watched it, it was victory that produced a natural high. That intoxication may embolden them to try again.
For the country, there are consequences just as there were after 9/11. The post-9/11 changes have mostly been confined to airports where people now take security inspections for granted. Otherwise, life pretty much has returned to normal. This time may be different.
1. The Capitol is now in the Green Zone – How long will that last? What will it mean to tourists and school trips to see the nation’s capital in a permanent shutdown due to terrorist threat?
2. How many more Green Zones will be needed? Will even Alabama and South Dakota need to protect themselves? A lot of the chatter may turn out to be hype. Think of the army of 50,000 poll watchers that was supposed to be raised on November 3. Maybe the expected assaults will fizzle out.
3. Will there be lone wolves and soft targets? – After 9/11 there was a lot of attention/discussion on soft targets. The veterans with Iraq and Afghanistan experiences are well-trained in such tactics. There is plenty of information on the web about how prepare a bomb and the tactics to be used to deploy it to maximize effect. Will mentally-ill young males switch from attacking schools to attacking other locations that provide more vulnerable targets?
4. Who can you trust? – The supporters of the insurrection can be in Congress, the Capitol Police, the National Guard, the local police, the military, and the Secret Service. They could be your neighbors, your co-workers, and even members of your friendly local historical society. How do you know?
At this point it is too early to tell what will happen. The people who participated in the insurrection and who have been arrested are claiming they were following orders, answering the call of their President, and requesting pardons. Such pardons would be an open admission that the President really is an “existential threat to our democracy and our country as we know it” just as Pelosi said and the second impeachment claims.
The next round in the war will be the pardons issued on the final full day of his presidency. The parting gesture of the Loser undoubtedly will unleash another round of at least verbal conflict. It also may be seen as throwing the insurrectionists under the bus if they are excluded.
January 6, 2021 transformed the culture war into a civil war. It’s become a double civil war. It is a war between the Trumpicans and the Woke for control of the country. But it also is a war between the Trumpicans and the Republicans for the control of a political party. No one knows how either war will turnout. What can be said, is that it won’t end on January 20, 2021 and it will prove more dangerous to the future of this country than COVID-19 has been.