Are The Americans Creeping Towards Civil War?
The traditionally boring, midterm snoozefest has been reinvented this year as the election of “lifetime” importance.
This combination of elections for the US Congress, governorships and other state-wide races, is normally characterized by setbacks for the incumbent president's party.
And even though this year was no exception, the 2018 midterms have also underscored intensifying divisions that now define an America fundamentally split in two.
Moreover, the record voter turnout should not be misconstrued as democracy at its best, but serve as yet another reminder that neither side is ready to trust its opponents with leading the reconciliation process.
For the American people, who just ushered in a divided government, this election will solve nothing. It will only make the political struggle even more fierce and deepen social divisions.
A highly charged atmosphere
The ideological struggle between the US Democratic and Republican parties dates back decades.
It has often times been ferocious, earning it the label of Washington’s cold civil war.
But today, that struggle is no longer confined to ideology. By spilling over into everything from class to national identity, immigration and race, it has permanently and irreparably polarized American society.
In this highly charged atmosphere, calls for unity are never anything more than veiled criticisms and condemnations of the opposing side. But perhaps more importantly, this environment turns everything from letter bombs to mass shootings into divisive political issues.
Then and now
Between 1978 and 1995, Theodore John Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, killed a number of people as he attempted to start his ‘revolution’ by conducting a nationwide bombing campaign.
Kaczynski even had his manifesto, the ‘Industrial Society and Its Future’, published in leading newspapers like the Washington Post.
The text was published in 1995, but excerpts of it would resurface years later in the manifesto of Norwegian far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011.
Also in 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people when they blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. The bombing was supposedly McVeigh’s response to the government’s actions against the Branch Davidians cult that came to be known as the Waco siege.
All of these characters had very clearly articulated ideologies. However, their political motives were of no interest to the general public and they went down in history as lone terrorists, never linked to a broader political movement.
Fast forward to 2016 and everything has changed.
In October, a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and 13 letter bombs sent to prominent Democrats were quickly attributed to the Trump administration’s ‘hate-and-fear-mongering’.
Last June, James Hodgkinson ambushed Republican congressmen at a baseball practice in Virginia using an assault rifle and pistol. He was immediately linked to Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, after having volunteered to work on his 2016 presidential campaign.
Just a few months later, a neo-Nazi, James Alex Fields Jr., plowed his car into a crowd of rival protesters in Charlottesville, killing one person. The fallout from that incident led to the notable departure of Trump assistant Sebastian Gorka from his post.
Earlier this week, the FBI indicted a number of people involved in the Charlottesville violence, who are now being accused of traveling to Ukraine to train with the neo-Nazi Azov battalion.
According to the indictment, the Ukrainian paramilitary group “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing” US-based white supremacists.
In October 2017, Stephen Paddock rained down bullets for approximately 10 minutes from his Casino hotel room, killing 58 people at a Las Vegas concert.
FBI sources later revealed that agents discovered literature belonging to the left-wing militant group Antifa in Paddock’s room.
In the months leading up to that attack, images appeared online of Antifa members fighting alongside the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
Whether Paddock had any official links to Antifa remains unknown. However, according to official records, the 64-year-old singlehandedly carried out the deadliest mass shooting in US modern history.
The second and third deadliest mass shootings – in what is a long list of massacres – have all been carried out over the last twelve months.
Unlike the good old days of Kaczynski, McVeigh and Nichols, today’s villains are part of the political debate. Whether it’s about gun control or their ideologies, almost all are integrated into the country’s political struggle. Their actions of lunacy – of which there is no shortage throughout US history – are suddenly being ascribed to the leaders and parties that they support or oppose. This is what the threshold of civil war looks like.
Violence is worst when it takes on political dimensions, because that is when it risks taking on true grass-roots political power and inevitably becoming justified.
The US has not reached the final stages just yet, but it is creeping awfully close to the precipice.
Source: Al-Ahed News