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Charles Cutter

America: A Second Civil War?
By Charles Cutter (www.cuttersway.com)
May 20, 2005 - 6:58:00 AM

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Many Americans - an angry and vocal minority - feel that our country has been damaged beyond the possibility of repair. They believe that the basic mechanics of our democracy - such as fair elections, governmental checks and balances, the rule of law - have become so corrupted that the traditional solutions no longer apply.

They’re not simply frustrated by a right-wing government controlling the House, the Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court. They’re convinced that the will of the people has been subverted in two consecutive presidential elections - through judicial cronyism, through voting software designed by supporters of Bush & Co., leaving no verifiable paper trail.

Obviously, there is some foundation for these suspicions; but, beyond a certain point, it becomes irrelevant whether or not these concerns can be factually proven true. If a person decides that they have become illegally disenfranchised - if one believes their opponents have the power to reverse the legitimate outcome of an election - then the alternatives become bleak.

And dangerous.

Leaving the United States is one option, but such a move has its limitations. For one thing, America’s reach - economic, environmental, military - threatens the entire world; for another, permanently relocating in another country is not as easy as one might think.

In a society of laws, the accepted and proper course of action would be to seek a legal remedy. Unfortunately, once one loses faith in the electoral process, a loss of faith in the judicial process has to follow - after all, the federal judiciary is appointed by elected representatives. And the final voice in our land belongs to those individuals who stopped the recounting of votes in Florida in 2000, handing George W. Bush the presidency. The situation can only get worse: Before Mr. Bush leaves office, it’s expected that he’ll have the opportunity to appoint at least one - and possibly more - Supreme Court justices.

It’s easy to see why a legal remedy doesn’t offer much hope.

How, then, does one produce change from within - when one has no faith in the electoral and legal processes?

There’s always protest - legal, nonviolent resistance. Of course, this poses its own set of risks. A number of perfectly legitimate groups are being subjected to government surveillance and harassment. Also - as many can attest - behaving in a legal and peaceful manner does not mean that government forces won’t respond with illegal and violent tactics. Which can then provoke violent resistance, which justifies - after the fact-the government’s actions. It’s a self-fulfilling travesty: Such violence then begets a call for "law and order," right-wing code for trampling civil liberties in pursuit of some imagined state of security.

Where does it all end? An American insurgency? "Blue state" secession? Both have been proposed, and neither is realistic. The American military could turn back any homegrown rebellion and the practical problems of separating into two distinct red/blue countries are incalculable. This is not to say that a second civil war in this country is impossible - far from it. There is an ongoing push from the extreme right to secure greater and greater power, by any means necessary. The desire for common ground has given way to the hunger for conquered ground. And, with each brutal success, the anger and hopelessness of their opponents grows more explosive.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the cause is corrupt voting machines or a self-destructive citizenry.

By any measure, the right-wing power grab we’ve witnessed has already done fundamental, generational damage to this country and to the world. The destructive forces they’ve unleashed may result in something that neither the Soviet Union nor Osama bin Laden could accomplish: The end of the democracy known as the United States of America.

To a large extent, it’s already happened.


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