It is likely that within the next five to 10 years our neighbours to the south in the United States will enter into a second civil war.
I don’t think it will be a hot war (mass use of weapons in an organized and strategic fashion toward a goal of conquest/subjugation) but certainly a cold war (a passive-aggressive use of laws, sanctions, PR and rhetoric designed to control or manipulate governments and people).
In fact, if you have been watching things unfold over the past few years you might say the cold war has already begun as increased division becomes more and more apparent.
You have an increasing gulf between liberal and conservative populations, governments and organizations/movements.
While there are increasingly extreme versions of both in every city and state the old divisions of the original civil war are still apparent. As one heads south toward and past the Mason-Dixon line you run into an increasingly conservative mindset (and while this has always been so there has been a live and let live attitude for some time now that seems to be evaporating.
In the north east you find increasingly liberal perspectives. As you had through the Midwest you find more conservative perspectives again until the west coast is arrived at where the liberal cultures strengthen once more.
The fault lines run across dimensions as well. Urbanites tend to be more liberal than rural types. Whites in the south and Midwest tend toward conservative perspectives. The divisions are influenced by education, culture, politics and religion too.
So while this is a very complex scenario the increasingly clear delineation between left and right (a brutal false dichotomy if ever there was one) stands starkly forth revealing a valley between the two with barely anyone in it.
How will it play out?
With the Democrats poised to win a third straight term (under Clinton or possibly Sanders) while the Republicans will almost certainly field Trump (but just about anyone they field would appear extreme in comparison to previous candidates) it is difficult to overstate the enormity of what this represents as an historic shift.
In Canada we are used to the pendulum swinging back and forth from left to right but generally not to an extreme of either. In the United States the pendulum has generally swung from right to not too right/centre. In the past decade or two however things have changed dramatically as both parties dig deeper and deeper into more extreme rhetoric and divisive tactics to solidify and grow their bases. Both camps are guilty of using fear to motivate the electorate.
Increasingly there will be more and more talk of state and individual rights over the central power of the federal government. There will be increasing numbers of court cases and laws being taken to the Supreme Court as conservatives seek to enshrine individual and state rights while liberals seek a broader implementation of federal programs.
Ultimately the right in the United States is better suited to a hot war with an appeal going back to the 2nd amendment – even within the ranks of the military establishment it is likely there will be greater sympathies to the right than the left.
What will keep the left in power is a stream of ultra-extreme candidates on the right combined with a relatively safe and secure homeland in terms of both defense and economy. Should any of these things falter it will be easier for the right to establish a stronger foothold toward the next election.
What about three Democratic terms?
Did you know there has only been one Democratic presidency across three terms (and into a fourth)?
Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president four times in a row from 1933 to 1945 (he died early into his fourth term). It was his presidency that led to the 22nd Amendment and the two term limit for presidents. Prior to Roosevelt it was an unwritten tradition that presidents typically did not run for more than two terms.
Since Roosevelt only one party has held office for more than two terms in a row – the Republican party – two terms under Reagan and one term under Bush Sr.
Before this you have to go all the way back to Herbert Hoover’s election in 1929 to find any party in power for more than two terms – in this case Hoover ended the Republican three term run started by Warren Harding in 1921, followed by Calvin Coolidge in 1923 followed by the aforementioned Hoover.
Prior to this there was also set of three terms and another of four terms for the Republican party – the Democrats have only ever had two straight terms other than Roosevelt, who, it could be said, was boosted in the polls by America’s involvement in World War 2.
What this means is a third term for Democrats as a party is unprecedented in American political history. It means we are watching an historic shift take place that many in the United States will resist strongly.
Further to this, unless the Republican party can field a charismatic, populist in the 2020 election it is likely the Democrats will move into a fourth straight term.
What does all this mean? We are in for some interesting and unpredictable times over the next four years in the United States and subsequently, the world.