The day after the Congressional baseball shooting, NPR’s On Point tackled the issue of America’s political bifurcation, and the impact of the hot rhetoric surrounding it. There was a lot of talk about “finding the middle ground” and “compromise.” What wasn’t said: there isn’t any middle ground. Or room for compromise.
On guns — the issue sparking the debate — there are two sides. Those who want the Uncle Sam to live up to its constitutional obligation to not infringe on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, and those who want to infringe on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.
Supporting “reasonable regulations” on guns — as allowed by the Pyrrhic victory known as the Supreme Court’s Heller decision — isn’t “compromise.” It’s capitulation.
Universal background checks? Infringement. Magazine capacity limits? Infringement. Gun violence restraining orders? Infringement. “Assault weapons” ban? Infringement. Banning firearms purchases for people on the super-secret Terrorist Watch List? Infringement. It’s all “reasonable regulation” favored by people who support civilian disarmament.
There is no reconciling the pro- and anti-gun rights sides of the Second Amendment. Either you’re for the Constitution’s protection of firearms freedom or your against it.
On the wider “left-right” issues — health care, taxes, government programs of every sort — the devil isn’t in the details. It’s a matter of overarching philosophy. One side wants the government to take care of sh*t (e.g., “economic inequality”) and wants individuals to sacrifice civil rights for society’s benefit. The other side wants less government and individual liberty.
On Point’s commentators predicted a political realignment. Both parties would eventually create politicians representing the “middle ground,” where Americans on both sides could join hands and sing a rousing chorus of Kumbaya.
One guest claimed that the Republican-led federal government was “out of step” with the wishes of this mythical middle ground. Perhaps so. But her assertion that America hungers for an Abraham Lincoln-type politician to forge a utopian left-right coalition is ridiculous. The host quickly pointed out that Mr. Lincoln’s lauded coalition was soon embroiled in a civil war.
Yes, there is that.
Any such internecine conflict would — theoretically — pit states against each other and/or the federal government. It’s hard to imagine a Trump-led federal government going to war against a state, or cracking down on liberty to the point where small government types mount a ground-up insurrection. Just as it’s hard to see California messing with Texas.
The Trump presidency can’t/won’t repair the fault lines between statists and (true) libertarians, which do bifurcate along state lines. You know, blue states vs. red states. But I can’t see this leading to civil war.
The American middle class has too much to lose to try to overthrow the U.S. government, even in the face of tyranny (soft or hard). Ipso facto. Think of all the liberties small government Americans have already surrendered without rising up, from gun control to “free speech safe zones” to the aforementioned Terrorist Watch List (with its no-fly provisions).
The lower class, on the other hand, has everything to lose. Should the U.S. government stop funding the welfare state, mostly likely due to economic collapse, millions of Americans would be instantly destitute. The same fate that the South believed would befall them should slavery be banned. Without government financial assistance, people stuck on the bottom rung of the economic ladder will riot.
Would these massive riots constitute civil war? In a way, yes. The rioters would be pitted against police and then, possibly, government troops. They would fall under the sway of leaders promising them reinstatement of a socialist state/guaranteed paycheck. As they do now. Only violence would be their stock in trade.
How that would play out is anyone’s guess. But our society, our liberty, would suffer. Again. Still. Because if you think about it, gun control was/is/and will be designed to keep down the lower classes.
So why “allow” the lower classes to keep and bear arms?
Because there’s not much downside; the criminal class amongst them are already armed. But it’s their natural, civil and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It’s important for people who’ve been historically disenfranchised to see that those of us who believe in these rights believe in these rights for all.
By the same token, you can’t credibly tell people on the lower end of the economic scale that you want them to fully realize the American dream while denying them all of their civil rights.
So it is what it is. The welfare state is a powder keg. Weaning Americans off the government teat — creating quality education and conditions for gainful employment across America — is the only way to defuse this inherently dangerous state of affairs. Suggesting that the answer lies in engendering “civil discourse” is a great landing at the wrong airport.