Countdown to Civil War
Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump alike are fond of repeating the mantra that if Trump were impeached, there would be a new civil war in America. I wonder. Wouldn’t such a new civil war have to be initiated by people so engaged and passionate that they would be prepared to die fighting for what they espouse? And yet although Trump’s true believers do indeed constitute a cult, it is not entirely clear to me that theirs is a cult based on active passion so much as it is an extension of the late modern weakness for the pretense of engagement worn as a mask to hide an underlying malaise and disaffection.
Fanatical Trumpanzees strike me as merely a quirkier, mentally weaker subgroup of fanatical talk radio listeners or fanatical anonymous commenters. They are the lunatic fringe of the radically disengaged, or, if you will, the virtually engaged: citizens who enjoy the collective comfort of “belonging” to something, with the something in this case happening to be a political movement with an identifiable leader or figurehead, a man who will lead the rhetorical charge so that they can feel involved and relevant without really doing anything.
I am inclined to believe that if there is ever another true civil war in America — relatively likely, I suspect — it will be initiated by the progressive left, and those fighting in the resistance will be the small minority who actually stand for some semblance of America as founded, not those merely infatuated with the entertainment value and the vicarious thrill of playing bigshot afforded by an unprincipled celebrity leader like Donald Trump.
One reason I find the idea untenable is that all the public rhetorical mouthpieces of this ersatz movement are men and women who wouldn’t put themselves and their cushy fortunes in any real jeopardy for all the tea in China, from the alpha male bone spur champion himself, to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, to Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge, to all the establishmentarian elitists in Washington, to slimy garbage like Roger Stone and Alex Jones. Where is the legitimate fighter among them? Who would lead this war against the forces of impeachment?
I can’t see it.
I’m not saying, by the way, that Trump should necessarily be impeached. Personally, I would be much more comfortable with the impeachment of the population that allowed itself to be manipulated into an election in which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the only “viable” candidates. That is, why blame Trump for the fact that millions of people judged their lives and their country’s future so lightly that they played Russian roulette with both, merely because a handful of Washington millionaires told them they had no other choice?
John Stuart Mill argues that societies, just like individuals, have to progress through various stages of maturation before they deserve to be granted the moral authority and independence of liberty, i.e., voting for their own leaders and living under a government of limited powers. America in this era is making Mill’s analogy look increasingly reasonable each day, having in effect entered its second childhood.