Not simply divided, but the United States is highly polarized, angry and bitter.
Any attempt to indict either Hillary R. Clinton or President Donald J. Trump on criminal charges might trigger a 21st Century Civil War.
The similarities between the era right before the outbreak of the 19th Century Civil War and the present day political climate in America are too significant to ignore. Some of the same trends that were apparent back in 1861 can be detected in today’s politics.
Some of the disturbing similarities between 1861 America and 2018 America include:
• The belief that Donald J. Trump is an illegitimate or illegal president. One of the ostensible causes of the Civil War in 1861 was the belief by Southerners that Abraham Lincoln was not a legal or legitimate president. As the theory goes, Confederates broke away from the Union because they did not recognize Lincoln’s presidency. Maybe not the real issue, but certainly one that is drug out for public consumption.
• Around 57% of Americans between 18 and 30 branded Trump’s presidency as illegitimate in a March 2017 GoFoward poll conducted by the University of Chicago and the Associated Press.
• Percentages were higher among some groups. 74% of African Americans under 30, and 71% of Hispanics under 30 called Trump “illegitimate.”
• Increasing political violence. During the 1850s, Americans increasingly turned to violence to settle political disputes. It started with mob violence; such as the burning of newspaper offices and lynching of blacks in the North, escalated to guerrilla warfare in Bleeding Kansas, and culminated with John Brown’s assault on a federal arsenal in an attempt to start a race war in 1859. (Brown was funded by wealthy Unitarians.)
• Since President Trump’s election, there have been several incidents of disturbing political violence. The most frightening outrages; include the burning of a limousine by a mob at President Trump’s inauguration, the attempted murder of several Republican members of Congress by a leftwing gunman, and the violence at a Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
• Increasing demonization of the other side. During the Civil War, Confederates portrayed President Lincoln as a tyrant and Union troops as invading barbarians. Union propagandists branded the Confederates as traitors and slavers.
• Commentaries branding President Trump as a fascist and comparing him to historical tyrants such as the Roman Emperor Commodus are often appearing in supposedly mainstream news outlets. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright even wrote a book in which she called Trump a fascist.
• Commentaries and websites about “Crooked Hillary” are just as common. Cambridge Analytica; a British company that worked on the 2016 Trump campaign, even bragged about “weaponizing” the phrase “Crooked Hillary.”
• During the 1850s, civility all but disappeared from politics. By 1856, things were so bad that Senator Charles Sumner was savagely beaten on the U.S. Senate floor by U.S. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Brooks’ attack was triggered by remarks that Sumner had made about his relative U.S. Senator Albert Butler.
• Violence in the Capitol has not been reported yet; but 68% of Americans said the tone of the political debate was getting worse in a CBS poll last year.
The similarities between 1861 and 2018 are too great to ignore. As in 1861, we have a deeply-divided political landscape and increasing political violence. There are two sides each claiming to represent the “True America” and each branding their opponents as un-American, traitors, and criminals.
What Could Trigger the New Civil War?
In such a climate all it would take is an effort to indict or remove a popular, but controversial political figure such as Trump or Clinton to trigger violence. Both Clinton and Trump are passionately admired by segments of the population and hated as intensely by many others.
Efforts by Republican lawmakers to get the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and indict Hillary Clinton would spark violence, Mike Adams of Natural News Now believes. Adams even goes so far as to call the FBI “corrupt and treasonous.”
More cataclysmic would be an effort to impeach President Trump, which is more probable than is widely believed. 58 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach the President in December 2017, Politico reported. Those voting for impeachment included one of the house’s top Democrats’ assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (South Carolina), The Hill reported.
An impeachment vote might succeed; and trigger violence, if Democrats take control of the House in November’s Congressional election. Many observers believe Democrats will pick up enough seats to control the House and be in a position to impeach in January 2019.
So what would 21st Century Civil War look like for us?
The possibility of a 21st Century Civil War is too great to be ignored. Preparing for such a conflagration is difficult because nobody knows what it would be like.
A likely scenario would be a cyberwar in which hackers try to destroy the other side’s digital infrastructure with everybody else caught in the crossfire. Another strong possibility would the use of the courts, law enforcement, Congress, and the media to demonize elements of the population and deprive them of their Constitutional rights. Other possibilities might be terrorism, guerrilla warfare, lynching, civil disobedience, riots, and the use of drones as weapons by ordinary citizens.
A 21st Century Civil War would not be fought with cavalry and bayonets, but it is likely to be just as destructive and as divisive as the conflict 163 years ago. All Americans need to start thinking about such a Second Civil War and how to survive it as we move closer to the November elections. We live in interesting times.
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