As someone who loves this country with all my heart and soul (it’s been good to me beyond my wildest dreams), the feeling that we’ve entered a period of protracted Civil War fills me with unbearable sadness.
The Threats to our Democracy are as great as any in our Nation’s history. The abject hostility and opposition of the Republican Party towards any measures—most notably protecting Voter Rights–that would strengthen our Democracy is absolutely appalling. Voter Suppression Laws are one of the most anti-Democratic acts imaginable.
As one of the founders of the modern field of Crisis Management, I can say unequivocally that the array of crises we’re experiencing are as worrisome as any we’ve ever faced. It’s exacerbated by the fact that where once a major crisis such as Covid would have brought us together, it’s only served to divide us even more thereby adding to the crisis.
Just the list of crises is overwhelming, if not thoroughly depressing. The fact that they not only impact one another, but magnify their worst effects only adds to the overall sense of angst: the long-term disastrous effects of Climate Change and our pitiful attempts towards taking meaningful action; the radical fluctuations of the Stock Market; the worst bouts of Inflation in years; a deadly Pandemic that shows no end in sight; the precarious state of our Collective Mental Health, especially that of young people and older citizens due in large part to the Pandemic; the back and forth opening and closing of Schools; the passage of laws designed explicitly to suppress the voting of people of color and minorities; and on and on. Each day only brings more.
But of them all, I’m most concerned with the precarious State of our Democracy. Where once we both celebrated and were a nation of mutual respect and tolerance, and thus a Beacon to the entire world, we’ve descended into a wretched state of constant division, contempt, and abject hatred of those who don’t share the same views. It makes me both sad and deeply ashamed to admit that I’m no less guilty in this regard.
The signs of trouble are loud and clear such that they cannot be ignored. Increasingly, those who feel deeply aggrieved about their station in life use the most apocalyptic language to describe their situation in life. It’s nothing less than a “war” between “us” and “them.”
If further evidence is needed, consider the fact that the numbers of Americans who feel that violence is justified in achieving their desired ends is terrifying. So are the numbers who feel that we’ve already lost our Democracy. In short, many have given up altogether.
Not only are we suffering the effects of the widespread loss of Commonality, but worst of all, we are suffering from nothing less than Mass Psychosis. It’s marked by the refusal of far too many to accept and thereby deal with Reality. Thus, the numbers who believe in Conspiracy Theories and that Trump won the last election is scary beyond belief. It’s heightened by the fact that one of the major political parties is complicit and as such has gone completely off the rails. As Abraham Lincoln put it long ago, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Looking back, many have asked how the German people could have succumbed to the likes of Hitler and Nazi propaganda. We have only to look at ourselves for the answer for it’s happening here. In short, we’ve let our worst instincts run wild and thereby get the better of us.
It’s aided and abetted by a public that is grossly unprepared for the complexities of today’s world. It’s also furthered by an archaic Political System that accords the same two Senators to every State no matter what their size thus abetting the Tyranny of Minorities. All of these and more work to heighten the divisions between us and thus lower the chances of our survival as a Republic. No wonder why the track record of Democracies that are severely spilt is abysmal.
This is what makes the current state of affairs so profoundly different from past crises that we’ve weathered. The fact that we’ve survived terrible calamities in the past is no guarantee that we will now. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never experienced Mass Psychosis on such a scale.
I see the utter breaking apart of the America I knew and love happening daily. While it may not be a shooting war in the conventional sense of battles between two well-trained and organized armies, it’s a Civil War in every which way. Indeed, we live under the constant threat of violent skirmishes on the population as a whole by organized Militias, White Supremacist, and Extremist Groups of all kinds. In this sense, it’s depressingly close to the endless war that racked Northern Ireland.
We are devolving faster and faster into European-like Duchies, each with sole allegiance to itself and not to the Nation as a whole. While for the time being Secession between the States may be out of the question, it can’t be ruled out entirely. Indeed, it may be the best, if not only, way to prevent an out-and-out shooting war.
Unless a true spirit of Bipartisanship were to reemerge, I see no alternative to Blue and Red States continuing to drift further and further apart, ultimately going their own ways. It’s already close to happening at the County levels.
We are in serious danger of losing the country I love so dearly. If there are grounds for hope, it’s that enough of us will rise up and say “Stop! We will not allow our Democracy to be highjacked any more!”