How to End America’s Cold Civil War
"So, let us not be blind to our differences — but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
—President John F. Kennedy, 1963 American University commencement address
You could feel the chill sprint down your spine and tear through your bones the moment the frontrunners became Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The rift, the wildly apparent chasm between countrymen had already occurred. The end of the 2016 United States Presidential Primaries was the official beginning of America’s Cold Civil War.
Things would not be better if Clinton had beat Trump. Her detractors would be after her head for everything she did and touched. She’d have spent her entire presidency fighting off accusations and lawsuits both perceived and real, just like the current president is doing. If she had won, Trump wasn’t going to just fade back as other defeated candidates have done, and neither would his supporters. Trump and Company would have contested the results and every single thing that took place after her inauguration. In a way, they do that anyhow, not content with winning by a margin that was anything but yuge. Had Clinton won, there’s a good chance the cold war we’re in now would have instead been a raging fire, hot as hell. Disenfranchised cousins with the Dixie flag tattooed on their arms — despite living way north of the Mason Dixon Line — eeking out a living in rural wherever would have come charging up to the county line to blast anyone wearing an I’m with Her button or pussy hat. Again, in a way, they do that anyhow.
Both sides are so angry. Both sides have been had. Both sides are so untrusting of the Other that it has become near impossible to find any kind of common ground. The most basic family values and the welfare of children isn’t even common ground. Not during America’s Cold Civil War.
America has defined itself on the populous having strong differing opinions with all matters financial, religious, social, justified, militaristic, etc. That the country claimed democracy and due process as its most important tenets is how we’ve managed to not tear ourselves apart completely in almost 160 years.
We’ve come close. The 1960s were rife with extremism on both sides. Depending on the argument of the week, it was either a war between the generations, a war between the classes, a war between sexes or a war between races. The End, it appeared to many who lived through it, was always three steps behind.
But we got out of it. We mellowed out and took our fingers off the triggers. At least, long enough to celebrate the nation’s 200th birthday.
And now, here we are again. Facing off against each other. Both sides waiting for the other one to make a move bold enough to consider a true violent retaliation. In the wake of the ’60s, the ice was broken by the revelations of lying White Houses (Johnson and Nixon) and their public comeuppance. Johnson went into an alcoholic spiral of death and Nixon was branded forever a crook. The shit show in Vietnam came to a horribly unfortunate end. America had a moment to catch its breath. And then it elected a peanut farmer — Jimmy Carter, America’s most progressive president. But that took things too far. The overcorrection was overcorrected when it elected a corporate spokesman — Ronald Reagan, America’s most narcissistic president. And since then it’s been a volley of right and left extremes every four to eight years. But at least we staved off a Civil War II.
If we’re to do that today, we have three choices.
1. We can shred our Declaration of Independence and Constitution and beg England to take us back. “We promise we’ll behave,” we’ll have to plead. “We’ll call soccer football. We won’t care so much about who Diana’s kids marry.”
2. We wait for the house of cards Trump has built to finally topple either by the wrecking ball that will be the Special Counsel’s case or the wrecking ball that is most of Trump’s inner and outer circles just being on the job. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
3. We pause. We take a breath. We take a step toward the dividing fault line. We give in to our best nature and love of country and desire to keep the Union together. We ask ourselves, what is more important: that I win or that We the People win? We remember that we’re all Americans, and that for America to come first, or thrive at all, America needs a unified people working together. We find common ground. We bury the hatchet deep in that common ground. We disagree politely and band together against any brutes who try to hurt any one of our citizens whether they be LGBTQ, straight, Christian, Muslim, rich or poor. We refuse to give platforms to uninformed hatemongers like Ann Coulter and smug hacks like Brian Williams. We remember that at the beginning, middle and end of the day, we’re all the same. In the immortal words of Snoop Dogg, “I’m just a squirrel tryna get a nut.”
If we cannot do one of these three things, we will continue to burn the bridge between our American divide and this Cold Civil War will ignite. Winter isn’t coming, y’all. Winter is here.