It was just another night on the Fox News’ program, “The Ingraham Angle.”
The guest was one-time U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, a known right-wing bomb thrower who, on this particular night, had come loaded for bear.
“We are in a civil war,” bellowed diGenova. “The suggestion that there’s ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future is over. It’s going to be total war.”
When asked what diGenova planned to do about it, he responded, “I vote, and I buy guns. And that’s what you should do.”
While the one-time United States Attorney had come on Fox News to do his job – delivering the red meat to an audience who thrives on the same – it is what happened next that revealed the true character of this overly-excitable pundit and proof of why this country is not headed for civil war.
Within days of his remarks, in an interview with The Washington Post, diGenova was working hard to walk back his rhetoric.
No longer filled with the bravado and war readiness displayed when sitting under the studio lights with Laura Ingraham, diGenova self-corrected, indicating that the United States is in a “civil war of discourse- a civil war of conduct.” The former U.S. attorney went on to say that he owns guns mostly to make a statement, and not because he fears political insurrection at the hands of his fellow Americans.
That’s quite a turn.
A few days earlier Mr. diGenova implored us to buy guns to be ready for shoot-outs with our politically disagreeable neighbors only to revise those remarks to suggest that he really only owns the guns to make a statement.
Some civil war, right?
There was, however, one thing deGenova suggested in his revisions that I agree with- our civil war, if you insist on calling it as such, is a war of discourse.
Put another way, the current version of an American civil war is playing out right now on a Twitter post near you.
Of course, it is not guns and ammo that fuels this war – it’s a war of digital communication and the phones and laptops that power the never-ending sniping of angry people.
Maybe it’s unfortunate that Twitter didn’t exist in the mid-1800’s as we might have spared the 620,000 American lives that were destroyed because guns were the only means available to fight out economic and political disagreements.
That particular war, as is typically the case with civil wars, was an economic dispute between the manufacturing-based North and the agrarian based South, with the political subtext of slavery.
So, who exactly is going to fight this new civil war that so many predict will soon involve our nation?
The most aggrieved economic class in the country today has to be the working middle-class, the once solid center of our economic spectrum that is being taken apart by both big business and government policy.
As Abe Unger (no relation) points out in his excellent piece published in The Hill,
“I’m worried about the loss of our middle class, because without that secure buffer between rich and poor, democracy is finished. No other issue tops this right now. Democracy always is at risk when the middle class drops out. All that remains then is a small, wealthy elite that protects its assets generationally and makes itself distant from the grassroots, while a majority population living with daily insecurity over the acquisition of basic needs nurtures festering resentments. This formula does not spell great success for a free and stable regime.”
Abe has this right.
And if you believe that civil war is on the horizon, you must presume that the middle class is ready to stage a violent uprising to retake the role they once held in the American economic structure.
They don’t have time.
They are far too busy working their butts off in the effort to keep a roof over the heads of their family, food on the table and raising money for college tuition, all at a time where hard work does not often result in solid pay.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be disruption and incidents of violence ahead.
In the 60’s and 70’s, demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, the bad behavior of Richard Nixon and the push to establish civil rights in America would, on occasion, devolve into violence coming from both sides of these battles.
I recall students getting out of control when protesting Viet Nam and civil rights abuses resulting in acts of violence. But I also recall government doing the same as demonstrated by the deaths of the four students at Kent State University who were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.
At the time, we wondered if these events would lead to the next American Civil War.
They did not.
When the Supreme Court elevated George W. Bush to the presidency, despite the fact that Vice President Al Gore had won the popular vote, we wondered if that would be the trigger to ignite the next civil war.
It did not.
And neither will the existence of Donald J. Trump and the problems that come with his occupancy in the White House nor the perverted version of capitalism we now practice that is responsible for the destruction of the middle-class.
We won’t have bloody civil wars because we now fight our wars with one another in other ways. We fight them through our surrogates that fill the airwaves on cable tv. We fight them through those who represent our respective positions on talk radio and we fight them, in hand to hand combat, on social media.
Follow Rick on Twitter @rickungar; on Facebook and, listen to his daily radio program, “The Rick Ungar Show” on talk radio stations around the nation.