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.