The Civil War Election

As the summer of our discontent drags on, the fall of 2020 will bring with it either the fall of America or its rise from the ashes. This Independence Day, the battle lines were drawn unambiguously, and the fate of our nation truly does rest on the decision of the American voters in November.

It is now a commonplace that every election of our recent history is “the most important” election ever—and it may often seem there is no reason for this other than to drive up voter enthusiasm and campaign contributions. Of course, each time, the candidates go on the next cycle just four years later, “No, this time it really is the most important election ever!”

Even accepting that given, any objective look at the parameters of the national discussion leading into this election makes it clear that 2020 is not only an important election, but indeed, a domestic existential crisis unlike any this country has seen since 1860 on the eve of the Civil War. For the first time in modern history, the presidential election will be a choice between a party that loves America, and a party that openly hates it.

In One Corner, Unapologetic Patriotism 

President Donald Trump has given many significant speeches over the course of his first four years in office. Until now, the general consensus has been that his greatest speech most likely was the one he gave in Warsaw almost exactly three years ago.

In that speech, using the language of a modern Pericles, he hailed the glorious achievements of Western Civilization, from its darkest moments to its greatest triumphs, and argued that ours is a civilization that can survive against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so long as we have the will to preserve our individual national identities.

If Trump’s Warsaw speech was a rallying cry to secure the future for the broader international community of free Western nations, then his speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday wasits domestic equivalent.

In that speech, too, President Trump addressed a major existential crisis facing the flagship of Western Civilization, the United States of America. Just as he did in Warsaw, he implored all patriotic and God-fearing Americans to stand up for their heritage, cherish their history, and defend their country from an insidious force that is actively seeking to erase America’s true past from the history books.

The Mount Rushmore speech will go down in history not only as one of the greatest speeches of Trump’s presidency in terms of sheer quality but also in terms of the timeliness of the address.

Like his Independence Day speech in 2019, he gave an extensive history lesson that should instill pride in all who hear it. He recalled the greatest achievements of the four men whose visages were carved into the towering mountain that stood above him. From winning our independence against the largest empire in history, to saving our union and abolishing slavery, President Trump made it clear why these four men in particular were chosen to be memorialized in such an immortal way—and why they deserved it.

He spoke out unapologetically in defense of America’s unique heritage even as mobs of evil anarchists and violent Communists rabidly tear down monuments and statues to some of America’s greatest heroes. He explicitly called out the Left’s latest tactic of “cancel culture,” as hundreds of regular Americans are driven from their jobs, their schools, and even their homes for the simple act of committing wrongthink against the Left’s meaningless mantra of “social justice.”

By directly naming the enemy and its tactics while simultaneously issuing an unwavering defense of the fabric of our nation, President Trump spoke the words that every American needed to hear. He spoke to those who are currently living in fear of the mob, reassuring them that not only do they have nothing to be ashamed of by being proud Americans but that they have a true champion in the White House.

And, following up his tough rhetoric with swift action, the president announced an action that essentially amounted to a great big slap in the face of all of the rioters and screeching anti-American mobs: An executive order to repair fallen monuments, as well as the creation of a brand new national monument, “The National Garden of American Heroes.” Few actions are more decisive and show more resolve than immediate rebuilding in the face of destruction. Such a response is uniquely American.

In the Other Corner, Seething Self-Hatred

President Trump’s 90-minute speech was by far the second-best method for defining his opposition going into the November election. The only thing that served that purpose better was Joe Biden’s pathetic 90-second response.

From a visual standpoint alone, Biden’s July 4 address failed from the start. Whereas President Trump gave a magnificent in-person address to thousands of Americans, under the watchful eyes of four of America’s greatest presidents, Joe Biden kept his address strictly digital, from the confines of his basement, in order to continue perpetuating the debunked notion that the Chinese coronavirus remains a mortal threat to all.

But on substance, he delivered President Trump a winning electoral message.

With this video, Biden has irreversibly thrown in his lot with the “America is racist” crowd. He started off bashing Thomas Jefferson—who, not coincidentally, is one of the men depicted on Mount Rushmore and the principal author of the document for which we celebrate American Independence.

He then proceeded to declare that America is plagued by fundamental and “systemic racism,” and declared the political canonization of the new patron saint of race-baiters, the martyr George Floyd. Rather than memorialize past presidents or true civil rights leaders, Biden saw fit to move our heroes to the back of the proverbial bus so that he could elevate Floyd above them in status.

In service of furthering the notion that Biden is taking the Chinese virus seriously, his video then depicted numerous “diverse” Americans staring directly into the camera, all with their faces covered by masks. Although this trope of “solemn diverse stares” has been done to death in many left-wing political advertisements, the presence of the masks only creates a more dystopian and unsettling picture, especially in the wake of Biden’s pledge that he, as president, would support a federal mandate that every American be forced to wear a mask.

With this video, Biden tossed away any lingering suggestions that he might take a “moderate” approach. In the event that the media was prepared to run defense for him and claim that President Trump’s speech was a mischaracterization of Biden’s intentions, Biden himself helped to make the case for the incumbent president by being very clear about his plans to fully accommodate the vile anti-American forces on the rise in our country.

Just as President Trump vowed to protect American history, Joe Biden seeks to rewrite it in a way that would put even Orwell to shame.

The Cold Civil War

Although talk of a possible second civil war in our country is often breathless and exaggerated, it’s fitting in the context of the 2020 election. Throughout most of our history, both parties have maintained that they love America, but simply have different ideas about how to improve it.

Now it is beyond clear, as articulated by both candidates, that only one party truly loves our country, while the other is ashamed of it. One party is campaigning on building on the past to create an even more glorious future, while the other seeks to tear down what we have already built so that we can start from scratch. Not since the election of 1860 has there been such a complete polarization between the two rival factions in American politics.

This election, put simply, is the first election since the Civil War to be about one thing and one thing alone: the grateful versus the ungrateful. There is no nuance anymore, nor is there any illusion of civility. One side loves America, while the other side loathes it and wants to replace it with something unrecognizable to our heritage.

It is fitting that this dichotomy has been made crystal clear on our nation’s 244th birthday, for once again we have a national scenario in which patriots are facing off against redcoats. It is now incumbent upon us to ensure that the spirit of 1776 truly is alive and well, so that this nation may not perish from the earth.

About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22).

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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