Perhaps what is most worrisome is the Republican inability to adjust to the reality of Obama's re-election. My theory du jour is that Republicans did not believe that McCain, unloved as he was by them, would lose to a black man and junior senator in his first term. Under the scorched-earth leadership of Mitch McConnell, Republicans then attempted to make Obama an aberration, as if the tide of demography could be turned by one black man's defeat. So they did not believe that Romney, unloved as he was by them, would lose to a black man whom they had tried to demonize in every way possible. By believing their own fictions of success, they set themselves for failure. Now they are in stunned disbelief that Obama is no aberration and that the tide has turned, but still against them. Having lived by a Southern strategy and all the bigotry and ignorance underlying it, they are now dying by it. Good riddance to those--McConnell, Boehner, McCain, Graham, Cantor, Inhofe, Cruz, prominent among many others--who have neither decency nor integrity, and are willing to cripple a country which they cannot control.]
The Second American Civil War
With various elected Republican officials calling for periodic bloodshed every century or so, “Second Amendment remedies,” or a “second American Revolution,” I thought that I would fantasize or forecast something a little different: a Second American Civil War. I understand the Republican desire to align such hostilities with the American Revolution; it purports that the party’s rebellious impulses are patriotic, not traitorous, and supports its paranoid delusions about a “tyrannical government.” Washington, with Obama as president, is like London, with George III as king. Thus, they talk.
But the real parallel is the treasonous rebellion of Confederate pro-slavery states against democratic states of different political positions—South versus North—on basic questions of America’s political unity, the precedence of Constitutional and federal law, and the Creator’s grant of equality to all men. However, the Second American Civil War will be fought less along geographic than socio-economic lines: country versus city; and less between armies and navies from two different regions than loyal and disloyal units of the three main Military Services supported by paramilitary units of the National Republican Army (NRA), with civilians drawn in as war comes to their neighborhoods.
A parallel is the Yugoslav Wars, which involved conflicts between military units of the provinces of Yugoslavia as that country disintegrated. These territorial battles between provinces also degenerated into ethnic and religious conflicts on a smaller scale by paramilitary units and free-lance groups. In their effort to maintain the unity of Yugoslavia and their dominance within it, Serbs from rural areas attacked, raped, tortured, and killed residents of mixed-population urban areas. The Yugoslav Wars gave rise to a new coinage, “ethnic cleanings,” which referred to violent assaults on non-Serbs and which resemble, in toned-down form, the Republican idea and implementation of Hispanic “self-deportation.”
A novelist is better prepared than I to represent the possible, perhaps the plausible, contours which such a civil war would take in 21st-century America. My imagination is insufficient to specify the events prompting the alliance of military and paramilitary units, and the outbreak of hostilities. But the Right’s increasing volatility and violence of language and its growing incivility and hostility to the Left are preparing the emotional, mental, cultural, and social conditions for physical mayhem. Despite the mindless efforts of the media and the mendacious exertions of Fox News, the asymmetry of abuse is clear: the Right is increasingly extreme in word and deed.
The forces for a second revolution are already in place in the “red” states, in which talk about “tyrannical government” is particularly vivid, vociferous, and violent. The volunteers who constitute the majority of officers and enlisted personnel of the Military Services are disproportionately from or stationed in the “red” states of the South and the southern Great Plains. Most of the country’s largest forts are located in these former states of the Confederacy or states adjacent to them like Kentucky and Oklahoma. Practices advancing evangelical Christianity at the military service academies, with distinct anti-Semitic tendencies, imply that America’s officers support neo-conservative politics and policies which fuel statements of states rights, nullification, interposition, or succession—the doctrines which rationalized the racism of rebels in the first civil war and which Republican officials articulate today without rebuke from within their party.
Other loosely associated paramilitary groups constitute a National Republican Army, which includes many former military personnel, which prevails in the “red” states, and which is doing everything it can to grow in numbers and arms. The spread of military-style weapons to these active groups bodes ill for domestic peace and tranquility. Their rallying cry is, of course, the Second Amendment, and the cause of its rallying is its fear and loathing of President Obama. But it will not diminish its activities once he leaves office. Its anti-Democratic, anti-liberal, anti-progressive, anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-fascist—these first six “anti’s” applied interchangeably—, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-feminist, anti-minority, anti-GLBT, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, and other forms of “anti-ness” will not dissipate when Obama leaves office or even with the (unlikely) election of a Tea-Party-friendly Republican president. They are indelibly etched into the NRA’s culture.
Two facts suggest an affinity between military and paramilitary organizations in this country. One, they share a love of arms. America’s defense budget is greater than the combined defense budgets of all other countries. And Americans own more guns per capita than the people in any other country. Two, they share some of the same arms. America is one of the very few countries which allow civilians to own and operate military-style arms. Given the NRA’s fear that the Obama administration intends to confiscate guns—its evidence is the fact that the administration has indicated nothing of the sort—it is a short step from a fear of losing them to the effort to use them.
The ascendency of the Right to control of the Senate and the presidency would mark the demise of democracy in America. It is occurring in state governments controlled by Republicans since the 2010 elections. With thirty-seven state governments in Republican control, the Right can, if it coordinates its efforts, call for a Constitutional convention and, if it adds only one more state, can approve a radically amended or new Constitution, perhaps as drafted by ALEC. Fortunately, for the Right, the Left is clueless or complacent about this possibility.
Given their monopoly of power in so many state parties, the Right no longer respects election results, popular opinion, common sense, and truth at any level of government. For example, no sooner did Michigan voters reject a proposed state constitutional amendment allowing governor-appointed city managers than the lame-duck legislature passed and the governor signed a measure restoring that power in a law which cannot be amended for 2 years. In place of, and in defiance of, the inconvenience of voters’ wishes or established facts, Republicans respond with, and act on, fabrications and falsehoods on issues with implications not to their liking—examples: recession-fighting stimulus spending and human-influenced global warming. They use contra-factual or fact-free propaganda to justify unpopular or repressive legislation or administrative rulings. To oppose abortion on grounds of rape, they claim that female physiology ensures conception-free rape. To oppose the “consent of the governed,” they claim voter fraud as spurious grounds for efforts to discourage or prevent voting not only by minorities, students and the poor, but also by seniors, who are even less likely to be involved in voting irregularities of any kind.
The controversy about illegal immigrants is part and parcel of the Republican effort to debilitate democracy. Eleven million Hispanic immigrants have lived and worked in this country for years, even decades, and contributed to the economy. Only as the political implications of a changing demography have come to the fore, and only as xenophobia has driven them to offend these small-time malefactors, have Republicans made the issue of illegal immigration an important one. In line with their anti-democratic proclivities and despite their phony outrage at the idea of “class warfare,” Republicans in the House of Representatives prefer a solution which would create a second class of residents by denying citizenship to these Hispanic immigrants while taxing them without representation.
So, too, the Republican initiatives to infringe upon the Constitutionally sanctioned right to abortion. Totalitarian states make control of sex and reproduction central to control of citizens. George Orwell’s novel 1984 featured the state “anti-sex league.” But his fiction was not stranger than historical fact. Nazi Germany anticipated his novel in its state engineering of reproduction of a “master race,” its incarceration of homosexuals, and its research and practice of eugenics generally. Communist China has adopted and enforced a one-child-per-family policy. In this totalitarian vein, Republicans are enacting or proposing legislation to limit or deny opportunities to women to exercise their right to an abortion; to require doctors to lie or misinform their patients; and to require them to perform unnecessary, intrusive, and thus abusive medical procedures. (Since most, though a diminishing number of, doctors are Republicans, they and their AMA do not, on basis of medical ethics and the integrity of the patient-doctor relationship, oppose such legislation—which exposes their lack of ethics and integrity.) These Republican efforts accord with totalitarian impulses and give the lie, a really Big Lie, to Republican claims to promote freedom and personal responsibility, which, by definition, implies the freedom to choose for oneself.
What the Second American Civil War comes down to is a war, not about slavery or states rights, but about democracy and its first and fundamental belief that “all men are created equal.” Republicans no longer accept this American belief, and their words and deeds contrary to it are moving them to discredit and ruin democratic institutions now and, if they believe it necessary, to rebel against democratic government later. With the fraud of fabrications and falsehoods preparing for the force of arms, Republicans are turning against America and its democracy.
Are there a producer and a screenwriter out there daring enough to make a film about this Second American Civil War or do they fear boycotts, bullets, and bombs?