Opinion: “The Second American Civil War”? Really?

Source: Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama

If you’re trying to figure out the bizarre landscape that is American politics these days, one place to start would be a fascinating piece by Dennis Prager at National Review, in which he calls to task those conservatives who have not yet enlisted themselves as obedient soldiers in the Army of Trump.

To fully grasp the implications of the piece, it first helps to know where the author fits in the conservative media ecosystem. Prager sees himself as the intellectual among right-wing talk-radio hosts,  and many conservatives seem to agree with him.  He even hosts what he calls “Prager University,” described on his website as “an institution of higher learning on the Internet with a unique difference – all the courses are five minutes long.”

As Prager’s marketing material also reminds us, someone in the Los Angeles Times once described him as “an amazingly gifted man and moralist whose mission in life has been crystallized – ‘to get people obsessed with what is right and wrong.'” That’s clearly how he sees himself and how he wants to be seen.

So I know what you’re thinking: How could a moralist with intellectual ambitions, a man whose lifetime mission is to get people obsessed with right and wrong — how could such a person berate his fellow conservatives for not supporting a self-professed pussy-grabbing, wealth-obsessed New York City playboy whose idea of a tough reading assignment is a one-page outline with pictures?

For that, we must turn to National Review, where Prager poses the question in reverse: Why do some prominent conservatives still reject Trump’s leadership?

“The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake. While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do.”

That paragraph explains a lot. In fact, it explains almost everything.

It explains, for example,  how Republicans who have traditionally looked upon Russia and Vladimir Putin as bitter enemies can suddenly begin to see Putin as a friend and ally. It’s because they see their real enemy, the one they fear and hate most, as American liberals, and if Putin is willing to help them in that effort they are more than happy to take that help. He’s far less threatening to them than Hillary Clinton.

It also explains why political compromise and cooperation have become impossible, because after all, compromise with those out to destroy America is in fact capitulation, and cooperation is treason. And if Republicans have lost the ability to govern in the normal sense, it’s because they are far more interested in using government as a weapon with which to wage this civil war than they are in delivering services or making lives better.

And of course it explains Trump, who turns out to be where this alarming trend has been taking us all along. In manner, faith, background, character and principle, Trump ought to be the embodiment of all that Prager and his supporters reject, yet he is embraced because in their eyes he is their last, best hope in what Prager has taken to calling America’s Second Civil War. As a result, nothing Trump does, nothing he says can be criticized because doing so weakens those defending America and gives aid and comfort to those attempting to destroy it.

As Prager puts it, again addressing “Never Trump” conservatives:

“They can join the fight. They can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters. But too many of them, some of the best minds of the conservative movement, are AWOL. I beg them: Please report for duty.”

Please report for duty; please fall in line.

There are a lot of problems with that line of thought, including the notion that loyalty to Trump is loyalty to America. That mindset leads straight to trouble, and to their credit, at least some of the conservatives targeted by Prager still resist that.

As David French writes, also in National Review:

“I’ll never defend conduct from Trump’s team that I would condemn in a Democrat. It’s sad to see the reflexive defenses of Trump’s conduct in, for example, the Comey firing when we know, we know, that similar conduct from Hillary Clinton would lead to nonstop calls for impeachment from the very same voices that so zealously defend Trump today. Either approach is wrong before the facts are in. Healthy skepticism and diligent investigation are mandatory. Culture matters more than politics, and a culture that abandons truth and the rule of law for the sake of short-term partisan advantage is a culture that sentences itself to death.”

The problem, of course, is that voices such as French, Bill Kristol, George Will and Jonah Goldberg are waning in influence among conservatives, and in fact are increasingly viewed as quislings within a movement to which they once lent a veneer of sophistication. Their numbers are dwindling as fast as their influence, as more and more “report for duty” and fall in lockstep.

There’s a deeper, more fundamental problem as well. If Prager and his audience feel besieged and under attack — and I accept that they feel that way — their sense of endangerment is based on cultural and demographic trends that are transforming the country in ways figuratively and literally foreign to them. And since they have no control over culture or demography, they turn in desperation to the one arena in which they can still make their numbers felt, which is politics.

But in the face of culture and demography, political power is helpless in the long run.

For example, the most recent Fox News poll puts Trump’s overall approval rating at 40 percent. However, among Americans 45 and younger, it’s an abysmal 27 percent. Those voters are America’s future and increasingly its present. And on the issue of the moment — climate change — 69 percent of those 45 and younger describe it as extremely or very important to them. In short, polar bears aren’t the only things endangered long-term by the GOP’s decision to pull out of the Paris accords. So is the GOP itself.

Those numbers are stark, and they repeat themselves in every context. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won by 14 percentage points among Americans 44 and younger.  In the most recent WSB-TV poll of the hard-fought 6th District race, Jon Ossoff has a lead of 59-37 percent among voters under 40, a margin of 22 percentage points. He leads 52-43 among those aged 40-64. Republican Karen Handel is competitive in the district only because of her 58-39 percent lead among voters aged 65 and older.

As a result, Republicans are working that older demographic and the Second Civil War theme hard, hoping it will pay off one more time. You can see it in the pro-Handel TV ads being beamed into the district, depicting a world that is teetering on the verge of chaos thanks to the likes of Ossoff, who in case you hadn’t heard “isn’t one of us.”

They’re right, he isn’t. The 30-year-old Ossoff and his peers don’t recognize the world depicted in those ads. They’ve grown up in this environment, they’re confident in their ability to negotiate it. So who’s gonna win this “civil war”? Me, I’d bet on the side that has time as its ally, because time ain’t been beaten yet.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not worried. This concept of a Second American Civil War, which Prager named but certainly did not create, has the potential to do enormous damage to this country. It allows for no middle ground, and it rejects the notion that we share a common heritage and common future. It threatens institutions and understandings that have long served as well. It is, as Prager wants us to believe, all-out war.

“There will be unity only when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left. Using the First Civil War analogy, American unity was achieved only after the South was vanquished and slavery was abolished… we are fighting for the survival of America no less than the Union troops were in the First Civil War.”

I don’t accept that.

“We are not enemies, but friends,” as Abraham Lincoln said on the precipice of the first such war. “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Reader Comments 1

3547 comments
Jack Barnes
Jack Barnes

I hope so....would love to eradicate the right

Maleah_
Maleah_

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gotalife
gotalife

Fired employee slaughters five coworkers in Orlando.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam

Deutsche Bank among western institutions that processed billions of dollars in cash of ‘criminal origin’ through Latvia


The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.

Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from RussiaThe scheme, dubbed “the Global Laundromat”, ran from 2010 to 2014.


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/deutsche-bank-that-lent-300m-to-trump-linked-to-russian-money-laundering-scam

gotalife
gotalife

dems do not like Bill's show because he attacks them for being weak.


That is why I like him.


"When they go low, kick them in the balls"

skydog12
skydog12

Kathy net worth. $20 mil. Bill net worth 30 mil. They arn't worried about it.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@gotalife 

I don't care for Maher because he is a craven opportunist.

He only gets out in front of an issue after it already has a sizable following.

skydog12
skydog12

Maybe you are expecting too much? There ain't too many funny Malcom X's out there.

I like Samantha B

The President show on Comidy Central is funny.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@skydog12 

I've been following him since his Politically Incorrect days back in 1993.

His MO doesn't vary.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Democratic Coalition Slams Trump’s “Rotten” Racist Housing Practices Just Confirmed By FBI

~~~~2/16/2017


"The FBI just proved that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization actively sought to keep African-Americans out of their residential apartment complexes by releasing a 389-page document dump this week, confirming earlier reports that President’s family business practiced blatant housing discrimination, based on public record documents discovered by the Democratic Coalition".

http://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/scalefit_820_noupscale/58a63ba328000027009996e7.jpg

gotalife
gotalife

May cutting police was a bad move.

gotalife
gotalife

The right think it ends the political comedian shows.


Not even close.

gotalife
gotalife

It turns out trump can't fire his team because noibody wants the job.



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

The last stanza in the last poem my father ever wrote.  It was written in the summer of 1999.  Dad died in February of 2000 at age 80:


                                 Farewell to thee, O century great!
                                          Long may your ideals reign
                              And leave “the sunshine” of peace and hope
                                Through the war clouds of a distant rain!
                               Thus, open wide a bridge of understanding
                                      As century twenty-one shall begin
                                   Then seek the wisdom of Providence
                                              To guide us to the end!



gotalife
gotalife

So Bill uses the n word on his show to take the heat off his comedian friend Kathy and it worked.


Those comedians stick together on their freedom.


Too bad the American people do not.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Poor Kelleyanne looking haggard.

"Rode hard and put up wet."

~Thomas Jefferson

skydog12
skydog12

What's up? You been out spending your Soros check?

gotalife
gotalife

The ole use trump's own words. Well played.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Thank you, @td1234, for reminding the group that last week you admitted your exercise routine consists of pleasuring yourself at home! LMAO

Please tell me this is on the level.


skydog12
skydog12

Better than the Atlanta airport, I guess?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

ok, hang on. Just realized, he mentioned yesterday about some ACW memorial and how he goes jogging on those trails.I think I'm calling BS on the original claim, much as I wanted it to be true.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

 He is out for a troll.

I saw earlier this morning where he posted the same partial quote ["no smoking gun"] last night.

Back in my day, when men were men, trolls at least made something resembling an effort to draw the attention they live for.

skydog12
skydog12

Back in our day, they argued for years about Pickets Charge. : )

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Addendum to my short essay, entitled, "What Is Ahead for the 21st Century?" in response to Jay Bookman's editorial, above.


In yesterday's essay, I mentioned that going forward into the 21st Century, that there may not be a need for states, as in the United States, or national demarcations, as exist now throughout the world.


To elaborate on my thinking on this matter, in more detail, I see that some people, not just in the United States, but throughout the globe, are more evolved in consciousness than are others.  I believe that these more evolved human beings will set the agenda for the globe for themselves and for other human beings in order to save our planet and to save humanity, itself. 


That does not mean that they will view other human beings as being less than they are in the eyes of God, but only that they will view other human beings as having moved less far along the consciousness continuum toward the Godhead than they have, at that point in time.  When that state of consciousness is arrived at by these evolved human beings, then to them all life, including all human life, all animal life, all plant life and even the life of the planet, with all of its soil, water, and minerals, will be viewed as sacred and equal in that all are manifestations of the Mind of God, which is love, and love fosters ongoing life, not death.


We see today that many people throughout the world have higher states of consciousness than others in various nations, such as in England and France as well as in America.  That is why the emerging new world of the late 21st Century and beyond will not be run as states and nations but as human beings of more elevated consciousness (love and wisdom) wherever they are found on the Earth.  This I believe because the survival of human life, and probably all life as we know it on Earth, means that this process must occur, over time, to save life as we know it for all.  There is more I could add, but this is enough for now.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@_GodlessHeathen_ @MaryElizabethSings


I did not ask you, or anyone else, to read my thoughts, GH. I posted for those who may want to read my thoughts.


However, since you have read what I have written above, I would appreciate some degree of respect in your response.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak @Visual_Cortex

fortunately I never lower myself to that level of discourse.

More than four or five times in a given morning. If I'm being super-cereal.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@MaryElizabethSings @_GodlessHeathen_ 

MES, I enjoy your little essays and appreciate the time and effort that you put into them.
Speculating about things that are going to happen 75 years after most of us are long gone is just not my thing, because nooone alive today has any idea.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@_GodlessHeathen_ @MaryElizabethSings


Thank you for that sincere and nice response to me, GH.


I appreciate that.  We simply are different from one another, neither better nor worse, just with differing God-given talents to each of us, as with all life, as I see it.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@_GodlessHeathen_


Like anyone else born with an artist's soul, I simply need to find expression. In my particular case, it is with words and prophecy, in combination.

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  1. […] of them vs. us. It’s yet another iteration of a rising theme in conservative circles that we find ourselves in a Second American Civil War, an era in which unity is possible “only when the left vanquishes the right or the right […]