A New Civil War?
Mike Hauser (19 July 2016 13:24:49)
Mike Hauser

I'm going to make an unpopular point here. Those of you who believe you know better can agree or disagree as you like.

As we all know, the "winners" are the ones who get to write the history of an era or an event. In the case of the American Civil War, the North, as the winners, have written all the histories. That's why you always hear that the Civil War was fought over slavery. That's what the North (incidentally, the first agressors in that war) want people to believe. However, this doesn't happen to be true.

President Abraham Lincoln, president at the opening of the war, was only mildly interested in ending slavery. He was vastly more interested in reuniting the country, for which he can't be faulted. But it's important to realize that the reuniting of the country was his chief concern, not slavery.

For decades prior to the Civil War, the majority of the US population resided in the urban centers of the North. As a result, the Northern contingent in Congress was able to push through law after law which worked to the disadvantage of the South and to the advantage of the North. As the North continued to do so in full view of the whole country, the South became more and more resentful. Through much of this time, there was a subcurrent of anti-slavery in the majority of Congress.

When Lincoln rose to the presidency in 1860, the writing was on the wall as far as the South was concerned. Seven southern states almost immediately seceded from the Union and became known as the Confederacy. The war started in 1861, and in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was made. It's worth questioning why a president so set against slavery didn't ensure this happened years earlier. And in fact, it's often speculated that the Proclamation was only made when the Union was doing badly in the war. After this, the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution freed the slaves, and further widened the gulf between the North and the South. For a president interested in bringing the states back together, Lincoln did a remarkable job of driving wedges between them.

The point of this is that the North and South broke with each other over deep resentments on the part of the rural South and the urban North. The result was a bloody civil war.

Flash forward to today.

Let me direct your attention to a county-by-county electoral map of the U.S. as of today (27 May 2015). You can find such maps on the Internet. This map comes in two colors, red and blue. These colors represent the Republican/conservative leaning areas (red) and the Democrat/liberal leaning areas (blue) of the United States. The selection of these particular colors was made innocently by Time Magazine a few years before when representing the two major parties on electoral maps. The selection stuck and has become a part of the public psyche ever since.

In any case, a county-by-county electoral map of this country shows a map that is almost entirely red, coast to coast. In fact, a casual glance at the map will leave you hard pressed to discern any blue areas at all. The reason is this. The rural areas of this country are almost exclusively red and the larger urban centers are almost exclusively blue. But because the population of the urban centers is so closely packed in such small areas, the blue areas are often hard to detect on the map.

Given that the map is so overwhelmingly red, how is it that we can continue to elect (and re-elect) such far left presidents as Barack Obama? Because the vast numbers of urban (blue) voters still seems to balance out the more spread out voters of the rural areas. It's also worth noting that Obama was an electoral anomaly. Never before have blacks in the country voted in such large numbers, and never so solidly for a single candidate. This incidentally proves that, contrary to the statements made decades ago by Martin Luther King Jr. that character should trump race, such is not the case among blacks in this country. To blacks, it is all about race, and the elections of 2008 and 2012 prove it.

Let's move on to the Tea Party movement. This movement got its start in 2007, but really took off with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Why? As with Abraham Lincoln, much of the country saw the writing on the wall with the election of Obama. The Tea Party movement represents the boiling resentments of more and more Americans who are tired of more and more government interference in their affairs. It should be noted that the only major piece of legislation Obama was able to get through Congress was universal healthcare, which was passed solely by democrats. Otherwise, Obama was incapable of moving any major piece of legislation through Congress during his whole time in office. This includes federal budgets, which should have been passable easily, but were blocked every year by the democrat-controlled Senate.

So we see a trend where at least half the population of the U.S. (or close to it) leans to the right. The far end of that section of the population is hostile enough toward the government that it has now formed its own movement which is now trying to take over the more traditional (and progressive) Republican party. The election of Barack Obama triggered a ground swell of support for this movement, and has resulted in overwhelming wins for Republicans among state governors and state legislators, not to mention Congress itself, which is now Republican-dominated in both the House and the Senate.

I see these recent events as quite similar to the events which triggered the American Civil War. And I have to wonder if, at some point, we will see another major bloody struggle in this country over the shape of our national government. Humans have proven time and again that they consistently fail to learn from history and continue to repeat its mis-steps. How will this conflict resolve? With a bang or a whimper?

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