THE DEMOCRATS’ SECOND SECESSION & AMERICA’S NEW CIVIL WAR

How to look at the bizarre turn our political life has taken.

Senator Kamala Harris is a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently mentioned on the short-list of contenders for the next presidential race. In a recent commencement speech at Howard University Harris issued a call to arms, urging her audience to rally behind the Democrats’ resistance to the Trump administration: “Graduates, indeed we have a fight ahead. This is a fight to define what kind of country we are, and it’s a fight to determine what country we will be.”

Ignore for a moment the impropriety of addressing a class of students as though they were Democratic Party operatives. Focus instead on the statement itself. The call “to define what kind of country we are” is an ominous agenda for America. Compared to other nations, America is absolutely unique in one regard: it is a country defined in its creation. Normally, nations have been formed on the basis of common origins, ethnicities, and languages – a modern form of tribalism. In contrast, America was created by peoples of diverse origins and ethnicities and on principles that were universal. The American union was forged in a set of founding documents that insisted on the equality of citizens – regardless of origins. The idea that creates the identity “American” is summarized in America’s official motto: e pluribus unum – out of many, one.

It took a Civil War and two hundred years of sacrifice and struggle to achieve a polity that approached this ideal. If one political faction is now able to redefine the ideal to conform to its own sectarian beliefs, the country we have known will cease to exist. But that is just what the current creed of the Democratic Party – “identity politics” – entails, and is why the current divisions in our political life seem so intractable. Identity politics is, in fact, the antithesis of the American idea. It is a reversion to tribal loyalties. It regards diverse origins – colors, ethnicities, genders and classes – as primary, and proposes a hierarchy of privilege based on them, which it justifies as a reversal of past oppressions.

It is not the proper role of an opposition party in a democracy to mount a “resistance” to a duly elected government and press for its overthrow at the very outset of its tenure. But that is precisely what the Democrats have done in the first months of the Trump administration. For the second time in its history, the Democratic Party has opted to secede from the Union and its social contract. This time there is not going to be an actual civil war because the federal government is now so powerful that whoever controls it will decide the outcome. The passions of an irreconcilable conflict are still present but they are channeled into a political confrontation over the executive power.

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