What is going on in America today? Political polarization is at crisis levels. The Republican Party is at war with itself. Democrats are waking up to their own internal war. Third party spoilers are showing up more often. Has anything like this ever happened before?
We always assume that the times we live in are unique. Yet at the same time we know that history repeats itself. These two ideas are not contradictory. We are repeating history, but in a new way.
There are two ways to define the United States: one is physical and one is conceptual. Physically The United States is defined by its borders. Conceptually The United States is defined by its constitution and founding ideas.
In 1860 seven southern states seceded from The United States triggering the Civil War (1861 – 1865). That secession threatened the physical definition of The United States.
Today I would argue half the country has similarly seceded, only this time it is conceptual. They have seceded from the constitution and our founding ideas.
Political polarization and secession went hand in hand in 1860. The Democrat Party had split into Northern and Southern factions. A new party emerged called the Constitutional Union Party. Republicans were geographically confined to the North.
None of this happened overnight. The issues causing the polarization had been simmering since before the nation was born. It took secession, and the realization of what that meant, for it to reach crisis status.
Similarly, the ideological polarization over the constitution and our founding ideas has been heating up for a long time. We have had an open repudiation of constitutionally limited government certainly since The Progressive Era (1890 – 1920). That repudiation has been simmering for over a hundred years and has often been bipartisan.
Charges of unconstitutional behavior and intent are ubiquitous in American politics. But Barack Obama represents something new. He is not shy about his disdain for our constitution and founding ideas. Nor is he shy about his preferences which contradict those ideas.
Barack Obama is the first president I’m aware of to openly announce a “fundamental transformation” of the United States. The secession was announced! And twice it won at the polls!
Now thanks to ObamaCare, the people are getting a first-hand glimpse of the reality of what that secession means to them.
There is an old analogy about boiling a frog: Put a frog in boiling water and it will immediately jump out. Put the same frog in cold water, slowly bring it to a boil, and the frog will surely die.
The question is, are we slowly boiling, or are we finally feeling it enough to jump?
Here is a link to The Constitution of The United States. You don’t need to be a legal scholar to read and understand the intent of this concise, relatively simple document. It does however take a legal scholar to hide the secession!
(This could have been the preamble to my piece - “The Coming Civil War – Who, What, Where, When, and Why” which is available here.)