The New Civil War

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I don’t remember my parents being political at all. My Step-Dad was an Army Green Beret and my Mom a naturalized American citizen via Germany. I’m sure they voted, but it wasn’t like we sat around the dinner table discussing geopolitics. Neither of them had attended college while I was still living at home and being politically active wasn’t really congruent with my Dad’s military service.

After I joined the Air Force, that was also the case for me, especially when I became a commander. After retirement though, it was a different story. Since moving to Tucson in 2008, I ran for and won a seat on my local school board and worked on three Arizona campaigns, two Senate and one House, and supported various other campaigns in one way or another. It has been my service as a school board member though, that really led to my activism. Public K–12 education and the children it serves, (as it turns out) is my new passion.

Our recent Presidential election was traumatic for many and some people are totally shell-shocked. In my mind, much of the consternation is not about partisanship, but rather about the values we collectively subscribe to as a nation. Do we as stated in our Declaration of Independence, “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”? Or rather, do we believe that (as with the Citizen’s United decision), corporations are people and should have as much say in our nation’s governance as “the people?” Do we still aspire to be Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill” (words originally spoken in a sermon by Puritan John Winthrop), that serves as a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world or, do we only care about ourselves; about “America First”…and last.

I had for the most part managed to have a more pragmatic perspective about the recent turn of events until about two weeks ago when I visited our Nation’s Capitol. Seeing the multitude of protestors everywhere, in many cases controlled more tightly by increased police presence,  brought home to me the very real shift in our national direction. Then yesterday morning, I had a contentious conversation with my Mom about politics (whom I once could talk to about anything) and it occurred to me that what we are now experiencing is the New Civil War.

As with America’s original Civil War, this one is pitting family members against family members, friends against friends, and neighbors against neighbors. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t at all mean to minimize the 620,000 lives lost in the original Civil War, to this date the deadliest in our nation’s history. But, this New Civil War has the potential to be just as fractious to our country. It may be a war of words versus guns; but the divisions surrounding economics, equal rights, freedom of speech, state’s rights, and free trade vs. protectionism, all with a dose of nationalism mixed in, are every bit as real.

And just like the original Civil War, this one is comprised of “battles” of significance. The fight over Betsy DeVos is one. It was well-fought on the part of public education advocates, but in the end, they were out-gunned by the corporate reformers and the lawmakers they purchased. It would appear the Dakota Pipeline is another battle where “the people” have lost to corporate interests. There will be many more battles such as the one  over the Muslim travel ban currently underway. I’m guessing we are going to have at least four years of such battles. It is tiring to contemplate.

Wars are often though, contests of attrition. The side that remains better resourced in terms of troops and weapons and the intelligence and supplies to support them, is usually the victor. There are numerous examples however, of a grass-roots resistance (because it is supported by the hearts and minds of the people), that achieves victory against all odds.

If our nation is to remain a democracy, one which is “of the people, by the people and for the people”, we must all (each of us), remain engaged and vigilant. I understand it would be easier just to bow out and ride the “ignorance is bliss train,” until it jumps off the tracks. Believe me when I say I’ve considered that option more than once. But, as the American educator and author (born in 1899) Robert M. Hutchins said, “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”

To those who care about our democracy and our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I implore you to not let current events discourage you or detour your resolve. Now, more than ever, we must keep our heads in the game. After all, (as attributed to Edmund Burke) “All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Let it not be said that was our course.

12 responses to “The New Civil War

  1. June Webb-Vignery

    It looks like the Party of Lincoln has moved to the Party of Wallace.

  2. I don’t think Republicans have any right to talk about being the party of Reagan anymore.

    Since Reagan, over the last 28 years, the GOP Presidents have gone from ‘Tear Down This Wall’ to ’10 Feet Higher’. Wonder when the change happened.

    • “Since Reagan, over the last 28 years, the GOP Presidents have gone from ‘Tear Down This Wall’ to ’10 Feet Higher’.”

      You are comparing apples to oranges, Edward, and I think you know that. There is a world of difference between a wall that locks people in and a wall that keeps people out. Just as there is a big difference between locks on your front door that keeps your family members from leaving and locks on your front door that keeps burglars from coming in.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        You clearly do not understand how walls work.

        The wall works both ways, you just don’t see it yet.

        • “The wall works both ways, you just don’t see it yet.”

          Of couse a wall can work both ways. That is straight from the pages of the coffee table book entitled, “DUH!”. ;o)

          If you are implying that under Trump people are going to start fleeing the Country and the walls will be used to keep them from leaving, then I fear you are losing touch with reality, Tom.

  3. liberal elitists are in shock that the working class of rust belt states thoughtstopping free trade was more important then transgender bathrooms. when president obama said the good paying jobs are not coming back get over it. didn’t help when trump said I will stop free trade and bring the jobs back. clinton’s comments on coal mining cost her penn. and ohio. sign I saw on election day in western penn. trump digs coal clinton digs transgender bathrooms. california makes america democrat it is republican in the other 49 states and our political system makes california less important then if we elected presient by popular vote. so we have get vist with popular vote for president initiative.

    • What “Liberal elitists” are really “in shock” about is that a man as vulgar and hateful as Trump could be elected President of these United States.

      • Let’s be honest, the “liberal elite” are in shock about both: That Trump was actually elected and that voters they took for granted broke ranks. Both are a shock to their system, as well as a threat to their existence if they don’t get these traitors back in line.

    • Chump’s victory narrative, as told by you, is just a myth. Voter suppression including widespread use of the fradulent Interstate Crosscheck system in Red-run states, and disenfranchisement (non-counting of Democratic votes in heavily blue areas of Midwestern states), along with Chump’s conspiracy with Putin and Russian hackers to slander Clinton through Wikileaks, and the unprecedented LAWSUITS TO STOP THE RECOUNTS by the Chump campaign and state Repub politicians in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania gave Chump His TINY MARGIN OF VICTORY (77,000 votes out of 13.million votes cast in those 3 states). His crooked election, with tons of crooked Dark Money from Koch brothers front groups, WAS A FLUKE! He is proving his incompetence and illegitimacy as we speak.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement