The possibility of another American civil war is something that many raise as a topic of interest, but usually dismiss as remote.
But in his most recent column, conservative pundit Dennis Prager goes so far as to say that “America is currently fighting its Second Civil War”:
“In fact, with the obvious and enormous exception of attitudes toward slavery, Americans are more divided morally, ideologically, and politically today than they were during the Civil War. For that reason, just as the Great War came to be known as the First World War once there was a Second World War, the Civil War will become known as the First Civil War when more Americans come to regard the current battle as the Second Civil War.”
Prager then goes on to define his sides:
The Right, he says, stands for classical liberalism, Western civilization, and Judeo-Christian foundations.
The Left, he says, “is opposed to every one of [the] core principles of liberalism,” hates the West, and “seeks to erase America’s Judeo-Christian foundations.”
He then asks a question worth pondering:
“Without any important value held in common, how can there be unity between Left and non-Left? Obviously, there cannot.”
In broad outlines, I agree that the Right and the Left currently possess few, if any, substantive first principles. However, I do think the common desire for comfort—while not an “important value” (it’s a superficial one)—is still a strong bond holding together Americans of all political stripes. Take that away, and it’s somewhat frightening to think what would happen.
Prager then argues that until recently, “the conservative side… has rarely fought back with anything near the ferocity with which the Left fights.”
Again, agreed. But as we’ve seen, the Right’s desire to fight back has been gradually growing. They’ve been preparing by building an army in the form of election victories, communications channels, and increased messaging prowess. In the latter two areas, they’ve consciously sought to learn from the Left.
In conclusion, Prager believes that the Right cannot pass up the opportunity afforded by the recent elections to pour it on and “defeat the American Left” once and for all.
It’s sometimes surprising to me to fathom the occurrence of another civil war, though I certainly see, more than ever in my lifetime, houses and small communities being divided against each other over politics. I’d like to say that this divide can be healed over time through peaceful dialogue.
But even a limited knowledge of human nature and history tell otherwise.
Dan is a former Senior Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (MN), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his academic work at Academia.edu.