Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Divided State

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."

Read on:

Open Salon: "A Rant About Stupidity... and the Coming Civil War" by David Brin/10.4.09


Anonymous said...

Any war, Chez, requires at least two combatants. This is part of a two-fold problem.

First, there are few free thinkers out there who are not duped by political ideology. The parties, both of them, use the sheeple to drive this crap. Seriously, I know that you do not agree with 100% of what the Democrats push and on a rare occasion, you see something some Republican is doing and you actually agree with that person. No one fits neatly into the square hole that the parties want us to fit into. They fuel the fire.

Second, our constsant failure to ever accept responsibvility for anything. Listen to your own post. You sound like you satnd quietly by, as all the craziness hapepns around you. People drive this. You, me, all of us. In fact, your complaints about the ridiculous animosty for the President is exactly the same that the right wingers sqawked about for the preceeding 8 years. Same shit, Chez and just because you beleive you are "right" doesn't mean that its not true.

Ultimately, its' all for cash for the NEXT election cycle. And I am not talking about some independent party, which ultimately is just the little brother of the two big parties. The media and ratings are also big contributors to this.

Religion is not the opiate of the masses; Political parties are.

SteveR said...

Yes, "stupid" is a pretty accurate word in this situation.

But would "gullible" be a more useful word?

Would it elicit a different reaction? Maybe "stupid" just riles people up, whereas "gullible" goads them into actually attempting to prove the veracity of their beliefs. It changes to focus to those with the bullhorn, because it accuses them of being liars.

To look at it another way, if you accuse someone of being stupid, there's no way for him to save face. But if you accuse someone of being gullible, he can attempt to save face by proving that the bullhorners are telling the truth. And if he has an ounce of intellect or wisdom, he may learn something.

Or not. Then he would be stupid.

Anonymous said...

At least we've got the Officer Corps on our side. That's good, right?

I wonder sometimes...would we be in the same place with the wingnuts if Hillary had won? Clinton-hatred seemed tamer than what we see today, or am I misremembering? Her campaign tactics were despicable, but maybe she was right...maybe America wasn't ready for Obama. As for Obama, as long as he's uncorked all this hatred, he might as well be ramming through the leftist agenda he's being accused of having. (Of course, he never campaigned as bleeding-heart liberal and isn't).

Deacon Blue said...

Civil war?

It would be a pretty messy and crazy looking conflict if it did happen. I mean, the Pacific coast and the Northeast would be on one side most likely, along with substantial chunks of the mid Atlantic and parts of the Midwest and Southwest. Atlanta would like be at war with much of the rest of the state in which is sits...

Do the wingnuts even have the kind of organizational skills to pull this off?

Nah. But I do think we may see a lot more pockets of violence and hate, and that will bring its own brand of ugly.

Anonymous said...

I think you're jumping the gun a bit here. There's a lot of stupid out there but there is nothing to gain from civil war. If America goes into civil war right now all that's going to happen is China, Korea, or Iran or all three are going to just take over, or at least try to (effectively ending the civil war in any case).

As much as we hate the other side in this country, we hate the others outside the country even more I think. I believe this is why many label Obama an African. He's not one of "us", even as a Democrat, he's a FOREIGN IMPOSTER, not even good enough to be a natural born Democrat. He's a community organizer for ILLEGAL ALIENS ("YOU LIE!").

That doesn't mean I'm not worried about the conservatives and their rhetoric. I am worried, but I'm worried more about less violent consequences rather than outright civil war.

Steven Lloyd Wilson said...

Any war, Chez, requires at least two combatants.

Yeah just like rape requires two people. God, every time I think of 1939 all I can think of is Poland wearing that short short skirt.

Matt Osborne said...

Anonymous, you don't honestly believe in that false equivalency crap, do you??! COME ON!!! I have never seen liberals arm themselves and mutter apocalyptic drivel while listening to talk radio.

Anonymous said...

"In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy."

- US Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, 1940

Sheriff Bart said...

Good God

Jim said...

Just finished reading the piece at Open Salon. Wow, that was the most spot-on take I've read to date on the subject of the wing-nut "prophets" and all the damage and potential damage they're creating for our union. It's an understatement to say there's a dangerous and gross lack of responsibility, not to mention lack of accuracy in a large swath of todays media, but I still hold out hope that all the automatons currently sucking off the Fox News tit are collectively too fat, lazy, and distracted by NASCAR events to start raising the kind of hell necessary to start a real civil war. I hope I'm right.

Jeana said...

That was a great piece. Thanks for sharing, Chez.

Jeff said...

Maybe because its because i live in the north midwest and we don't tend to get too riled up about anything, but I'm not seeing the frothy anger on the internet and in DC being translated to anger on the street. Even the people who don't like Obama and are worried about healthcare reform are a long way from open rebellion.

This was always going to happen. We elected a black man amidst a time of major social change and a dying way of life is giving its violent death rattle.

It seems larger and more influential than it actually is because a lot more people, probably the 1 out of 10 Americans unemployed, are really fucking scared right now. These are people who by and large are not very educated, don't follow politics beyond presedential elections, don't have anything against black people beyond some coarse jokes, and really don't care about the integrity of the free market.

They tried to play by the rules but the system fucked them over anyways and now they are lending their ears and maybe even a little actual support to the people screaming the loudest. If the President wants to head off this "civil war" he needs to do exactly what he has been. Work on lowering the unemployment rate, and weather the storm.

celery said...

man, i hope not. first, all the cool people would flee to canada, then the right would win the war and invade us for our vast resources and places to test their weapons of mass destruction.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I don't have the time to do your reasearch for you, but more likely is that if you didn't hear anything for the past 8 preceedng years, you are unmovable anyway.

Alex said...

Yea Anon, because who needs facts and research when you can just throw snark around in place of an argument when someone challenges you.

Anonymous said...

Jeez Alex, You got me there.

"I've never seen..." Is pretty compelling. Hard hitting stuff.

Man, I should learn to pick my battles instead of tying in vain to counter Matt's unassailable list of "facts".

Alex said...

Or you know, you could actually begin with bringing facts instead of doing the very same thing you're mocking....but hey you seem to be doing great.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Alex. Although you obviously missed the point of the post, if we must. And thank you for proving the point about how people can be so willingly blinded by ideology.

Start with speech:

Can you at least stipulate the thousands of wishes or calls for assinations, heart attacks, etc for the last administration?

8 October 2005, Seattle, WA:
Veteran's Home Vandalized

4 September 2005, Louisiana:
Democrat Senator Threatens Violence Against Bush
Mary Landrieu: I'll Punch Bush, 'Literally'

1 September 2005, National:
Leftist Radio Host Encourages Looting
Sean Hannity

25 April 2005, National:
Leftist Radio Threatens to Assassinate Bush

17 February 2005, Portland, OR:
Former Pentagon Adviser Assaulted at University
Protester throws shoe at Richard Perle - Politics - MSNBC.com

24 January 2005, Milwaukee, WI:
Five Democrats Charged with Election-Day Tire Slashing
JS Online: 5 charged in GOP tire slashings

8 November 2004, San Francisco, CA:
Muslim/Democrat Mob Attacks College Republicans

30 October 2004, Durango, CO:
Liberal Professor Assaults Conservative Student

22 October 2004, Tuscon, AZ:
Conservative Commentator Assaulted at University

5 October 2004, Orlando, FL:
Democrat Mob Storms GOP HQ, Injures Staffers
Protestors Ransack Bush/Cheney Headquarters In Orlando - Politics News Story - WKMG Orlando

October 2004, National:
A Pattern of Leftist Hatred

17 September 2004, Huntington, WV:
3-Year-Old Girl Attacked by Democrat Thugs
Washington Times - Democrats accused of ripping Bush signs

20 March 2003, Madison, WI:
Republican Heaquarters Vandalized
JS Online: GOP headquarters in Madison hit with bricks, paint bombs

11 March 2003, Los Angeles, CA:
Peaceniks Destroy 9-11 Memorial

1 April 2005
Violent leftist/Democrat physically assaults conservative Pat Buchanan at Western Michigan University

13 February 1996
Liberals steal press run of conservative newspaper Carolina Review in an effort to preserve victory for their liberal candidate

1 March 2002
Liberals steal entire press run of a monthly conservative publication at the University of California-Berkeley and harass and intimidate its staff

30 November 2004
Entire run of the November issue of the Yale Free Press, a conservative student publication, was stolen over the Thanksgiving break
Yale Daily News - Editors say Yale Free Press stolen

October 1999
Liberals at California State University at Sacramento stole 3,000 copies of the student newspaper. They were enraged because the paper, The State Hornet, had published the picture of a Hispanic man being arrested and charged with resisting arrest at a football game.

Liberals vandalize offices of The Collegian at the University of Massachusetts

robpo said...

Yikes. It wasn't more than 4 days ago I came to a conclusion I need to get a gun for the house. Just in case.
I'm almost to that point. Its easier to shut your mouth with my violence than to have to hear you bray on about your fear of nonsense one more minute. (Thats what happens when emotion talks.)

To anonymous: Your references span, what, 13 years? Eight of the last in which we engaged simultaneously in two wars in the Middle East, one we were rushed into, misled into, no one else wanted to do, with a country that didn't attack us. (and thats just a jack and coke worth of icecubes off the iceberg) ...
Obama has been in office 9 months. What has he done? Put us in deeper debt to stave off a depression, trying to reform health insurance? Perspective son. Get some perspective.

memphisto said...

I haven't read all the comments but I have to interject that in many revolutions (Pol Pot springs to mind) the first thing the revolutionaries do it to kill all the intellectuals- teachers, professionals, the college educated. To think that these people might consider for a moment that they are killing the golden goose that has MADE America the place that it is- the shining example to the rest of the world that basing social mobility on merit rather than religious affiliation, or birth family, or social status, is the best way to do well and raise the standard of living for everyone- is to project on them the ability to reason as you do. There is plenty of reason to believe that such reason is beyond them in the face of their hatred and fear, an scant reason to think such an obvious thing might give them pause.

These people think they are fighting for their lives and way of life. And they hate anyone that makes them uncomfortable by being more intelligent, or educated, or prosperous. Spalding Grey characterized Pol Pot's minions as rednecks who came down out of the mountains and committed a genocide that destroyed their country and raised the spectre of an entire generation born into mental retardation.

I have no reason to think such a revolution in our country would be any different.

Anonymous said...

John Titor may be correct? Blasted time traveler...