We are at war, the Second American Civil War. It will not be a shooting war, but it will be decisive; there will be a single winner; it will be intellectually bloody; and the loser will continue the war as an asymmetrical guerrilla war thereafter.
This asymmetrical warfare may continue forever. The winner will hunt down the losers and eliminate them. The winner will bayonet the wounded. The losers will go deep underground.
I have been mulling this subject for more than a year, but I am driven to write about it in the shadow of impeachment, during the Democratic primary, and on the eve of the November election. I build my argument on this three legged stool.
Why, Big Red Car? Why war?
I conclude we are at war for a number of reasons.
1. We have withdrawn into tribal loyalties so deep we will never reconcile, short of war. We require war to cauterize the wounds, to stop the bleeding, to consume our hatreds, to purify our souls — still, it will not work. Even then it is a crap shoot.
There is no desire to reconcile. It has been consumed by a lust to wreak vengeance on our foes, to destroy our opponents, to add pain to the resolution.
Intellectually, we are going to keep score with skulls, not with territory. Our friendships are colored by our politics. It has taken some time to get where we are, but we are where we are.
2. The things that divide us have become too deep seated, forced into our DNA, gene altering. Without war, we cannot get back to a place of peace. We may not seek peace. If you are on the winning side, you may prefer victory to peace.
Perhaps, in the future, we will seek war as a first resort, become addicted to it. In our inability to compromise, we cannot embrace gradual change. We see no intellectual demilitarized zone between our positions. We are not willing to compromise and, soon, we will forget how.
3. Our regional, economic, social differences have become campaign ribbons on our uniforms. Entire classes and geographical areas of the country are mocked and reviled with a spray gun of enmity, with a carpet bombing of disdain.
Our opinions of the other tribe cannot be expressed absent profanity, hatred, and venom. We are praying — for our enemies to be vanquished by a just God who can see our right, their wrong, and who we can enlist to punish our enemies. We are no longer opponents; we are enemies.
4. The established order — the supposedly wise, gray headed men who once manned the guard rails — are now also the enemy. The establishment will be reduced in the process of the war to nothingness. This is close to finished.
5. Policies, unspeakable and incomprehensible policies are cannon fodder. If we can imagine it, we can plot it, and if we can plot it, we will do it. Our weapons no longer have safeties.
They have triggers, banana clips with 50 rounds in them, and once we press the trigger, we only stop firing when we run out of ammunition. We are not limited by the size of cemeteries or the number of caskets.
6. We once had objective truth. We had our truth, your truth, our truth. Now, we have my lies to describe your truth. Your lies to describe my truth. The truth was the first casualty and it died without any heirs. This is true of us, the political parties, and the media.
Who are the sides, Big Red Car?
The surest fault line dividing us is Donald J Trump. One one side of the divide is the disruptive Tribe Trump, its sea legs now steady under it, its confidence growing as it understands what a cesspool Washington is, and with the scent of victory — right or wrong — in its nose. On the other side is the Clan Never Trump manning the barriers. For or Against Trump is sufficient glue to bind us, nothing more.
In the meantime, the country has slid further to the left in our discourse and therefore in our battle lines.
A small example: Where once we thought of the leftward leaning position on abortion as being “legal, safe, and rare,” now the left sees it as allowable until the literal moment of delivery, when the viability beyond the womb is unquestioned. In almost 50 years of engagement, we are further from a common ground, an accommodation, a gradual process, and, therefore, the composition of our courts has become not a place to find justice, but to legislate abortion.
You may be tempted to inject a level of subtlety, to mumble about policy differences, to praise the rigor of competition amongst competing ideas, but it is really no longer that simple. It is organization by subtraction, not addition.
If you believe your opponents are coastal elites, then by your own definition, you are left with the the hinterlands.
If you believe that President Trump has arrived to drain the swamp, to eliminate the Deep State, then you have introduced yourself to your enemies.
Every issue subdivides us. In that subdivision, we have stopped acting with regard for the intellectual underpinnings of the issue, but purely the binary — zero or one — outcome that we seek. You are either FOR it or AGAINST it. You must love your allies; you must hate your enemies. That hate spreads to all related subjects. It is personal. We disagree with people not on issues.
In that hardened position, the middle ground is gone. In that shrinking middle ground, we are herded into our encampments.
What are we going to fight about, Big Red Car?
The short answer is everything. Everything is a crisis, an emergency, an issue to be fought out to the last drop of blood. Every matter impinges on national security, every spat risks our representative republic, everything is worthy of God’s intervention and each of us is the true bearer of His wishes. We are all Constitutional scholars.
We have just finished an attempt to remove the chief executive of our country. I offer no judgment as to the rectitude of that effort. I note its arrival, its prosecution, its end. I note the horrific loss of even the last shred of civility in our political discourse. I note that the party that sought removal does not accept the result while the Tribe Trump will use it as a the jaw of an ass with which to bludgeon its enemies.
We will fight about the issues — every issue upon which we can find a real or imagined slight, controversy, or that we can seize upon to wield an advantage.
How will we fight, Big Red Car?
First, most importantly, the warring parties will seek a decisive engagement. As a professional soldier, one is taught that when armies bet the entire army on a single battle, it is “decisive” meaning the outcome of the war is dependent upon the outcome of that battle.
The Germans in World War II risked the future of the Reich in the Ardennes Forest at the Battle of the Bulge. They almost pulled it off. Five months later, Germany would surrender unconditionally. They risked a decisive engagement, lost, lost their army, and lost the war.
That decisive engagement will be the 2020 election.
We will fight with every means at our disposal — money, rallies, media — except for the truth or rational thought. This is where we have arrived. I am only the observer here, the scrivener.
Who will win, Big Red Car?
Like Paul Revere, I am here to sound the alarm, to alert the countryside. I have one side I believe will emerge victorious, but I will not inject that into the discussion today. I will one day.
The loser will be the American people. I doubt we will ever recover. We are talking about a Bismuth-209 half life (approximately 1.9 x 10 to the 19th power or 19 quintillion years, more than a billion times the estimated age of the universe). That is a long time.
Stay tuned, dear reader, we will have nine more months whereafter the loser of the election will not accept the election’s outcome.
You have been warned.