Civility, Civil War, and the Future of Our Civilization

Hillary Clinton, the most vengeful, spiteful loser in the history of American electoral politics, has abandoned the Left’s always deceptive, now evanescent call for “civility.” She insists there can be no civility between the parties until the Democrats are restored to power—and, by extension, the Republicans are vanquished.

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week.  “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”

These are fighting words, and in more ways than one. But first, let’s stop to examine the extraordinary ignorance she evinces here.

Battling between the parties is almost as old as the republic itself, but the vast majority of the actual violence has always come from the Democrats. Aaron Burr, the proto-Democrat and founder of Tammany Hall, shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. In 1856, on the eve of the Civil War, Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was nearly beaten to death by Democrat Preston Brooks of South Carolina, presaging the bloody events to come. John Wilkes Booth, an ardent Southern Democrat, assassinated Abraham Lincoln just days after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant. Even after the war ended, the Democrats waged a long rearguard action against the Union, including creating the Ku Klux Klan to beat and murder newly freed black Americans.

From Strength to Weakness
Now, if by “strength” Clinton means electoral strength, that is a different matter. In a two-party system, either one side or the other has “strength” at any given moment. Just a few years ago, at the dawn of the Age of Obama, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the White House, and won important victories in Supreme Court. They also rammed through Obamacare in the dead of night via procedural tricks, and saw the monstrosity survive a near-death experience in the high court when Chief Justice John Roberts switched his vote at the last moment.

Now, the Democrats’ strength is only to be found among nongovernmental organizations— academe, the media, and the public-employee unions, which provide the party with a great deal of its intellectual capital, propaganda, and pecuniary resources. So it’s no wonder they’re complaining about strength at this juncture.

And what’s wrong with one party desiring victory over its rival? Shouldn’t that, in fact, be the goal? Except for brief periods of national emergency, the notion of “bipartisanship,” so beloved by the late John McCain, was always more an aspirational myth than a reality. I have often caricatured that myth as the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, a congenial world of Scoop Jackson Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans, united in projecting American force abroad and the welfare state at home. If that’s “bipartisanship,” then let us have less of it.

And less of it is exactly what we have at the moment. To the utter astonishment of the media and the dwindling ranks of the #NeverTrumpumpkins, the president has gleefully embraced the politics of electoral combat, crushing first his Republican opposition in the primaries and then demolishing Clinton in the 2016 election. That thrashing—in the Electoral College, which is the only place it matters—has deracinated much of the Left, which now demands wholesale changes in our elections, including the abolition of the Electoral College and the transformation of the Senate, in which each state, no matter how large or small, gets two senators, into the House, where the number of representatives from each state mirrors the population.

How Terribly Unfair!
As Mr. Dooley famously said, “politics ain’t beanbag.” Clinton and the Democrats reject their coming up with the short end of the stick as unfair and against the natural order of things. “I remember what they did to me for 25 years—the falsehoods, the lies, which unfortunately people believe because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money, and effort in promoting them. So when you’re dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, you can be civil, but you can’t overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections.”

To any reasonable observer, Clinton’s complaint would seem to apply more to her own party than to the Republicans. Still, it’s the GOP’s job to win elections and, concomitantly, to prevent Democrats from winning them—and ’twas ever thus. What’s changed is the Left’s recruitment of a horde of feeble-minded snowflakes with the souls of thugs for whom losing is simply unthinkable and therefore must be a monstrous plot against them. Mouthing the leftist mantra, “by any means necessary,” they are now taking to the streets, shooting Republicans, beating them up, disrupting whole cities in their fury at the Fates.

What Hillary Clinton and her allies are really calling for is not civility, but submission. Like True Believers everywhere, theirs is a Manichean view of the world in which one side is wholly and manifestly good, the other deplorably and irredeemably evil. There can be no victory but total victory, no matter how long the struggle takes. After all, “there is only the fight.”

Short of civil war, there’s a clear solution to this two-state problem, and it’s been available from the beginning: federalism. The Left’s drive to diminish the power of the states and to consolidate power at the federal level is the reason why it hates the Senate and the Electoral College. The bulk of Hillary’s popular-vote margin came in California, where every vote for her beyond a one-vote majority in a winner-take-all state was wasted. The irony is that as long as Democrats flock together along the coasts, they’ll continue losing.

So their endgame is clear: the effective abolition of the states for all national political purposes. Talk about “fundamental change.” Because when you cut away all the boilerplate and the verbiage, the mock-piety and pretend horror, and strip the battle down to its essentials, what’s left is this: will the United States remain, as its founders intended, a federal republic, or will it become something more akin to a plebiscitary democracy, in which all important questions are decided in the heat and passion of the moment?

If the Democrats really want to see a breakdown in “civility,” this is precisely the way to go: to threaten the essential nature of the republic with an eye to transforming it into something completely different. They tried that once before, and it didn’t end well.

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Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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About Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and foreign correspondent for Time Magazine, for which he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints (winner, 2004 American Book Award for fiction), and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the recent nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. A sequel, The Fiery Angel, was published by Encounter in May 2018. Follow him on Twitter at @dkahanerules (Photo credit: Peter Duke Photo)

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