Batavick: A second Civil War brewing?

When I was a kid, I used to hear the old canard, “Save your Confederate money. The South will rise again.” The line would get a small laugh because we all knew the South had lost the Civil War and that its fighting days were over. Today, I’m not so sure.

Neo-Confederate Corey Stewart won the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in neighboring Virginia. In Mississippi, Chris McDaniel is the Republican Senate nominee, and his yard signs carry the “stainless banner,” the second flag of the Confederate States of America.


If you were to overlay a map of today’s red states onto a map of the country, you’d get a pretty fair approximation of the old Confederacy. In some parts, the “Stars and Bars” still adorn pick-ups and fly over homes. Our local schools have found it necessary to ban the wearing of clothing sporting the Confederate battle flag because of its offensive nature. This flag and 50 KKK members were prominent at last year’s fateful march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Additionally, the “take a knee” protests of black NFL players have struck a national nerve. Some characterize the athletes as prideful and ungrateful for their blessings. This smacks of the plantation where being uppity was once punished and a “Thank you, master” was expected following every beneficence.

What’s happening to the country? Is it cracking apart again, and are we on the verge of a new War Between the States? Well, yes and no. I don’t think there will be another Fort Sumter, but I do see us fracturing into two hostile camps and predict more violence, especially when one group insists on bringing AR-15s to their protests.

The U.S. State Department’s Keith Mines has witnessed civil wars in countries from Afghanistan to Sudan. He believes the U.S. has a 60 percent chance of experiencing such a conflict over the next 10 to 15 years. He’s not alone. When Foreign Policy magazine asked a variety of other experts, their consensus “best guess” was 35 percent.

What’s driving this? Mines listed five conditions: “entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the ‘in’ way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.”

Let’s take a look at these conditions: The campaign, election and inflammatory rhetoric of President Trump certainly increased our polarization, and there appears to be no middle ground between the 30 or so percent who support him regardless of what he does and the rest of the electorate. That’s why I believe impeachment is out of the question. Negating the election and denying Trump the presidency would be like putting a match to a tinderbox. The Mueller report may or may not change this dynamic, depending on the seriousness of the charges.

The Fox Network, talk radio, and Trump’s war on the press with cries of “fake news” have polluted the communications well and driven voters into two information camps. Yes, CNN, MSNBC, and the mainstream media share some blame, but a sampling of daily news coverage leaves no doubt about which sources are consistently unfair and unbalanced.

The hyper partisanship surrounding the Kavanaugh Supreme Court appointment and the dismal record of Congress are proof enough of our weakened institutions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the big villains. He stole a “Supremes” seat from President Obama and consistently undermines any bipartisan legislative efforts, though Democrats have hardly been models of inspired leadership.

Violence, whether practiced by neo-Nazis, white supremacists or Antifa, is increasingly used to resolve public disputes, and Trump’s calls for aggression against protesters and the press at his rallies are helping to sow the seeds.

There is no telling where all of this will end. Forming a third, centrist political party, like France’s En Marche! may help return us to responsible leadership. Or perhaps it would be easier for the blue states to take the initiative and break away from the red ones, letting them simmer in their own dysfunctional stew. The “blues” account for two thirds of the nation’s economic output, and some “reds” are dependent on the federal dole that’s comprised of tax revenue from the more affluent “blues.” Maybe “the shock of the dog actually catching the car and then wondering what to do with it” is exactly what the “reds” need to bring them to their senses.