Do you think this country is headed for all-out civil war?
Sure, it's a loaded question, and a somewhat overly dramatic implication. But with everything we've seen over the last few years -- the growing and seemingly unnavigable rift between left and right -- culminating in the frightening level of anger and insanity out there since the election of Barack Obama, well, does it really sound all that far-fetched?
More than ever these days, I find myself kind of shaking my head and thinking -- even fleetingly -- that America's Great Experiment in Democracy may have failed. I do this because there are now people out there who put the good of their respective parties over the good of the country. People who want to see our president, and therefore the country that elected him overwhelmingly, fail outright. They have a singular, deafening voice that's righteous in its certitude. They carry guns. They irresponsibly call for revolution. They seem to have no shame and no appreciation for the possible consequences of the shit-storm they're stirring.
Or do they?
I certainly don't want to fear-monger from the ostensible opposite side of the fence, but a piece in Open Salon today kind of got me thinking about the possibility that everything we're seeing right now really will culminate in some sort of violent upheaval. One of the things I appreciate about the column, by writer David Brin, is that it deftly points out what I think has been the cancer festering at the core of our eroding national discourse for sometime now: the fact that the conservative movement -- once pioneered and propagated by men and women of incredible intellect and patriotism -- has been hijacked by stupid, demagogic idealogues who furiously espouse a goal of eliminationism. In other words, they don't want to negotiate with their political counterparts and adversaries; they want to see them utterly crushed underfoot.
Admittedly, a lot of the people driving this rhetoric -- the ones with the biggest populist bullhorns -- are riling up the right-wing masses mostly because doing so makes them a hell of a lot of money. That's the ironic dishonesty about this so-called revolution: Its leaders are largely using the little guy as a stage prop to make themselves rich. But selfish intentions won't change the devastating nature of the potential outcome here -- not if violence really does erupt.
From the piece:
"And so we have circled back to where we started -- the sad decline of American conservatism into cartoonish idiocy. The puppeteers may be rich. They may be talented provocateurs and con artists... but talent does not equate to brains. Not when the GOP has driven off almost everybody in America who actually knows stuff, including nearly all the scientists, the skilled innovators, and most of the U.S. Officer Corps.
Alas. This is no longer even about "conservatism" anymore. Barry Goldwater lived long enough to denounce what he saw happening to his beloved movement, and things have plummeted even farther, since that great man died.
Nowadays, bottom-to-top -- and especially at the very top -- it is all about stupidity."
Open Salon: "A Rant About Stupidity... and the Coming Civil War" by David Brin/10.4.09