It seems that at least once a week I read an article predicting that the extreme political divisions in our country will lead to an actual civil war. “The country hasn’t been this divided since 1860!” is a common refrain.
Divided, yes. But leading to war? I don’t think so.
Those who actually know all about our Civil War may wish to correct me; I admit that discussion of this topic in my Georgia high school was so frequent and so prolonged that I did my best to sink into a coma whenever the subject came up. Even so, I think I grasped a few general points about that war which differentiate it from the present situation.
(1) The war was driven by one major moral/economic dispute, even if the two sides described it differently. (North: “Slavery is wrong.” South: “Our economy depends on slavery. Besides, states’ rights.”)
(2) The opposing sides were (mostly) geographically divided.
(3) There were, on both sides, people who were willing to actually fight with something more lethal than a sarcastic Tweet.
Now look at the current mess.
(1) What’s the argument about?
Us: “Freedom! Besides, the Constitution.”
Them: “Fight racism! And homophobia! And transphobia! And Islamophobia! And Climate deniers! And whatever we think of tomorrow!”
I’m not saying that the Left doesn’t have a coherent objective under this froth. I just don’t think they have one they dare say out loud. “Hand over total control of everything you think, do and say to Us, your superiors,” isn’t going to win a lot of fans. As long as they keep pretending that’s not the message, though, they have to keep coming up with ever more trivial causes of offense. And when they get down to silliness like, “I’m offended because this guy I don’t know said he wouldn’t want to date a ‘woman’ with a penis,”… well… I don’t think that’s going to inspire a lot of actual warriors, do you?
(2) Geographical division? OK, we have a lot of blue cities and a lot of red everything else, but the blue cities aren’t contiguous. I don’t expect to see the Confederation of New York-Boston-Austin-San Francisco-Portland as a geopolitical entity any time soon.
(3) People who are actually willing to fight. Yes, I’ve seen the fevered dreams of the Left play out on Twitter, and very nasty and violent they are too – but have you seen the sorry specimens responsible for the most violent fantasies? Twerps.
And that’s my biggest reason for feeling that the yelling and screaming will not turn into actual war. To have any kind of war at all you have to have at least two sides that are willing to fight.