America’s New Civil War: Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win

America’s New Civil War: Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win. By Peter Leyden. A viewpoint from the left.

The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done. …

Civil War:

The best way to understand politics in America today is to reframe it as closer to civil war. Just the phrase “civil war” is harsh, and many people may cringe. It brings up images of guns and death, the bodies of Union and Confederate soldiers.

America today is nowhere near that level of conflict or at risk of such violence. However, America today does exhibit some of the core elements that move a society from what normally is the process of working out political differences toward the slippery slope of civil war. We’ve seen it in many societies in many previous historical eras, including what happened in the United States in 1860.

America’s original Civil War was not just fought to emancipate slaves for humanitarian reasons. The conflict was really about the clash between two very different economic systems that were fundamentally at odds and ultimately could not coexist. The Confederacy was based on an agrarian economy dependent on slaves. The Union was based on a new kind of capitalist manufacturing economy dependent on free labor. They tried to somehow coexist from the time of the founding era, but by the middle of the 19th century, something had to give. One side or the other had to win.

America today faces a similar juncture around fundamentally incompatible energy systems. The red states held by the Republicans are deeply entrenched in carbon-based energy systems like coal and oil. They consequently deny the science of climate change, are trying to resuscitate the dying coal industry, and recently have begun to open up coastal waters to oil drilling.

The blue states held by the Democrats are increasingly shifting to clean energy like solar and installing policies that wean the energy system off carbon. In the era of climate change, with the mounting pressure of increased natural disasters, something must give. We can’t have one step forward, one step back every time an administration changes. One side or the other has to win. …

In the 1850s, we fought the Civil War, and the Republican Party won and then dominated American politics for 50 years. In the 1930s, the Democratic Party won and dominated American politics for roughly the same amount of time. …

Trump:

Trump is doing exactly what America needs him to do right now. He’s becoming increasingly conservative and outrageous by the day. Trump could have come into office with a genuinely new agenda that could have helped working people. Instead, he has spent the past year becoming a caricature of all things conservative — and in the meantime has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few. …

Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history. For a long time, they have been able to hide this fact through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game. However, Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication and has given America and the world the raw version of what current conservative politics is all about.

The Republican Party is all about rule by and for billionaires at the expense of working people. Trump is literally the incarnation of what the party stands for: shaping laws for the good of billionaires and the 1 percent. His cabinet is stuffed with them.

The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial. Trump is the denier-in-chief, but there are 180 climate science deniers in the current Congress (142 in the House and 38 in the Senate), and none of them are Democrats. More than 59 percent of Republicans in the House and 73 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat. Another way to say it is that the Republican Party is in the pocket of the oil and carbon energy industry. Trump just cut through the crap and named Exxon’s CEO as our secretary of state to unravel the United Nations climate accords. No beating around that bush for the sake of appearances — Trump burned the bush down.

The Republican Party for the past 40 years has mastered using dog whistles to gin up racial divides to get their white voters to the polls. Trump just disposes of niceties and flatly encourages white nationalists, bans Muslims, walls off Mexicans, and calls out “shithole” countries.

The carbon dioxide theory of global warming is based on a technical error in the climate models. Book coming along. The left won’t like to find out it was all due to a simplistic mistake made decades ago by a modeler.