We Are In a New Civil War … About What Exactly?Harris's inability to understand what's going on stems, in part, from his mistaken belief that all this started with the rise of Trump:
... On the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, we mark the evolution of journalistic cliche: Serious people now invoke “Civil War” not as metaphor but as literal precedent.
... If this is a 21st century version of 19th century disunion, shouldn’t it be more obvious what the war, at bottom, is all about?
The country many times over has witnessed dissent and disruption far more violent than anything seen in recent years. But earlier episodes featured profound ideological and moral questions ... that lay at the heart of the matter.
The real Civil War was about slavery.... Capitalists opposed to the New Deal knew why they loathed FDR — he was fundamentally shifting the balance of power between public and private sectors — and FDR knew, too.... The unrest of the 1960s was about ending segregation and stopping the Vietnam War.
Only in recent years have we seen foundation-shaking political conflict — both sides believing the other would turn the United States into something unrecognizable — with no obvious and easily summarized root cause. What is the fundamental question that hangs in the balance between the people who hate Trump and what he stands for and the people who love Trump and hate those who hate him?
... the violent conflict spurred by the 2020 election flowed from years of conflict over every aspect of Trump’s rise to the presidency and his performance in it....But angry right-wingers do have fixed opinions on issues, and not just ones based in "economic anxiety." They worship guns and the Second Amendment. They unswervingly oppose abortion. They believe this is a Christian (or possibly "Judeo-Christian") nation and have no tolerance for other belief systems. They think undocumented immigrants are history's greatest monsters. They fear "Black Crime" (which used to be a tag at Breitbart). They don't loathe gay people as much as they used to, but they've shifted their loathing to trans people. Their hatred of liberals is different from the animosity that led to the Rwandan genocide only in degree. I stand by what I wrote on Twitter just after Harris's piece was published, but it's insufficient to describe how much they hate us.
Efforts to explain Trump often rely on complex sociological or economic theories. He was a backlash to globalization and selfish elites. He exploited resentment of trade and the decline in real wages. He was the representative of people who disliked the cultural ascension of women and African-Americans and the diminution of working class white males. And so on.
All semi-plausible. All inadequate in the face of Trump’s zigs on one day and zags the next, and the obvious truth that most of his partisans are attracted to him less for any programmatic reason than for the sheer bombast of his performance — and especially that he offends his opposition.
Republicans don't believe any election won by Democrats is legitimate, don't believe Democrats are legitimately American, don't believe any part of the country governed by Democrats is legitimately American, and don't believe any law passed primarily be Democrats is legitimate. https://t.co/pTPOXvsvib— Steve M. (@nomoremister) January 7, 2022
And we despise them because they proudly vote for politicians who will never allow an increase in the federal minimum wage, never curtail the power of billionaires and big business, and never acknowledge that climate change is a real problem that needs to be addressed. We despise them because the rights of non-whites and non-Chritians and immigrants and LGBT people are important to us, as are abortion rights, as is the right not to live in fear of gun violence. We despise them because they've embraced the corporatist who-cares-if-they-die approach to the pandemic.
The fact that John Harris can't boil all this down to something that fits on a cocktail napkin doesn't mean the issues aren't real or profound. More likely, he just doesn't see any of it as meaningful to him. No one he knows is trying to subsist on $7.25 an hour. He's not a person of color. If anyone he cares about needs an abortion, it's probably readily available. Climate change won't get really bad until after he's dead. His immediate neighbors don't parade around with AR-15s.
The more the vitriol has risen the less consensus there is about the origins of anger. To the contrary, there is something closer to an establishment consensus that the search for root cause is folly — the Trump phenomenon defies explanation, and the threat posed by his demagoguery makes speculation about its origins an irrelevant distraction.Oh, well, if the establishment consensus says that it's not even worth troubling one's beautiful mind over the possible reasons for what could be a nation-destroying schism, then I guess I'm wasting my time.