It was announced through Sarah Palin, grew during the Tea Party days, and has only gotten worse since.
The fuel for the war is Antonin Scalia’s decision in D. C. vs. Heller, announced 8 years ago this week, which overturned 220 years of jurisprudence and held, for the very first time, that the Second Amendment gives Americans a legal right to own a gun.
The decision applied only to handguns. It was limited in scope. But it was seized on by modern day secessionists to mean they could all arm themselves to the teeth, and that they had a natural right to revolt against the government.
Like the first Civil War, this is a political struggle driven by economics. The underlying struggle then was between men and machines. The underlying struggle today is between men and computers.
Technology is making more-and-more people obsolete, people who once had important jobs and power within their communities. Technology has hollowed out every suburb and small town in America, turning the shopkeeper, the insurance agent, the real estate agent, and the banker into mere apps. These aren’t physical jobs. These are mental jobs, careers spent making decisions, requiring a college education.
As these jobs have disappeared, the blocks have come off the crazy. What was once confined to an extremist fringe has moved into the center of one of our political parties. The Republican Party, formed to fight for liberty in the last Civil War, now defines liberty as Luddism, as revanchism, as intolerance of change and all change agents. The GOP is now the Confederacy.
Anyone can enlist in this civil war. It’s easy. Buy a gun. You’re in. Statistics show that gun owners are under much greater danger from gun violence than non-gun owners. Toddlers are killing their siblings and parents, parents are killing their toddlers, idiots are killing idiots over nothing, and mass murder is being encouraged on the Internet and cable television every day. Got a cause? Kill. Got no cause? Kill anyway.
The last Civil War was fought by brother against brother. Today’s Civil War is being fought within ourselves. You can be safer by opting-out, especially if you’re a white urban dweller, but you can never be truly safe because of the crossfire. Fighting can break out anywhere, anytime, and if you’re there you’re just going to die.
The last war ended when the territory of the South was crushed, militarily, by the greater arms of the North. This war has no fixed battle lines. It’s more like Vietnam or Iraq in that respect. We can’t win this war by gaining or holding territory. We can’t win it through argument with those on the other side.
This war ends when the people decide it must end. The means to end it are in our hands, and always have been in our hands.
The war ends when there are vastly more votes against anything the NRA says than for it. It’s really that simple. Right now polls show a 50-50 split, and so long as that continues the war goes on. Even a 55-45 majority for peace isn’t enough. We need at least a 60-40, straight party line vote, to defeat the bulwarks of suppression, gerrymandering, and tribalism our enemies have arrayed against us.
I no longer think the present election will be decisive. Even if Hillary Clinton wins 3-2 over Donald Trump, Republicans are still expected to control most state houses, most state legislatures, and the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s plenty to defy the majority, unless the majority is prepared to play hardball, and I am not certain we are.
What do I mean by that? A certain hardening of hearts is required, against all those who would continue the war. A certain amount of exhaustion is needed, among those living in war-torn areas who have tired of the battle. Just as there was no secession document, save the Heller decision, there will be no surrender document, save perhaps a decision overturning it, much as Prohibition was overturned in 1933 so that economic-political-social struggle could end.
I can’t say exactly how many more people will die in this war. I fear a lot. We are already at Vietnam-like levels of gun violence, but that’s spread across a nation of 300 million. With 1,000 dying a week, there are too many people who consider themselves safe, immune, on both sides. So the toll will grow.
I pray I’m not counted among the dead. Same to you and your family. But until we decide this war must end, stay down.