A mere piece of paper

My right to speak, worship and defend myself do not come from a piece of paper, as glorious as the Bill of Rights is.
They come from God.

— Kurt Schlichter on Twitter (@KurtSchlichter) March 6, 2017

We’ve got ourselves a genuine constitutional crisis when Trump supporters begin thinking of the Bill of Rights as a mere piece of paper. “Natural rights”, as they call them, trumps the constitution every time, or at least the amendments to. Kirk Schlichter is a senior columnist at Townhall.com and a Trump true believer, every word as gospel. He doesn’t seem the least bit religious in his daily deluge of tweets. Instead it seems an excuse to dispense with constitutional niceties when they conflict with Donald Trump. He’d disagree, I’m sure, quite colorfully, but that must be the impression that all but the true believers get from him. And as the Trump administration descends into chaos, Schlichter’s tweets have taken on a ferocious, humorless intensity, very militant, often offensive, jibing with Breitbart and hinting at the increasingly crazed talk of civil war you see on InfoWars. He’s an impressive writer for what he’s doing, taut and angry, with nearly a hundred thousand followers, old friends of mine among them. He’s a masterful propagandist on Twitter, and Twitter is the social media battlefield now. Trump made it so, and battle lines surge back and forth angrier and angrier by the day, by the hour, in huge numbers. Schlichter is in the thick of it, hurling himself into the breach like John Bell Hood at Antietam, matching every thrust with a counter thrust, every insult with a sharper insult, every attack on Trump with an attack on Obama or Hillary or the press or Sweden or anybody. Just keep attacking. It’s impressive.

But look at the war of words over the long term. This political struggle is turning into a generational battle, Baby Boomers vs Millennials, with GenXers in between. The Boomers have another ten years of dominance in Red States and red counties before age and disease start thinning their ranks. You can do extraordinary damage in a decade. Schlichter and a zillion other Schlichters could be complete Bannon acolytes by then. All those old fashioned Tea Party principles gone the way of Barry Goldwater, replaced with this scary new economic nationalism. Imagine the battle lines then, long since hardened into trenches and barbed wire. A lot can happen in ten years. The country descended from peace into fanaticism and war in the ten year span from 1850 to 1860. You couldn’t have seen 1860 coming in 1850, and could scarcely have remembered 1850 in 1860. And all they had then was telegraphs. But telegraphy had shortened the news cycle from weeks to a couple days in that ten year span. The sheer velocity of news upped the intensity to crackling levels and the killing began. John Brown launched his raid because he knew that telegraphy gave him the possibility of starting a revolution overnight. He didn’t. But he certainly rushed the southern states headlong into secession.

So do I see a civil war happening again? No, I adamantly do not. It’s a comparison you hear more and more, however, and will hear even more so as the politics gets fiercer. But the differences in 1860 were much more stark, two civilizations existing under one constitution, each hating the other. We are nowhere near that now. We never will be. That was decided for us way back in 1865. Nor will we have revolution, that possibility ended with the election of FDR back in 1932. Besides, as Trump’s boomers fade from the scene everything will mellow out nicely. This is a scarily intense interregnum, the most conservative generation since the 1920’s–the baby boomers–wielding their maximum ballot box power just as their economic security plunges to an all time low. Thus the stark differences that have sundered the county now, these two huge camps of Americans who can’t agree on almost anything, even besmirching the Super Bowl with crazy political talk, and people talking idiotically of guns and revolution and civil war. All the time technology changes the news in minutes. Our never ending, never even slowing down news cycle, frantic as the electrons its made from, gushing with updates and breaking stories arriving by the second. The potential for vast and sudden change seems in there. It’s a perfect medium for extremism. I read David Duke’s vicious screes supporting Trump and hating Jews and realize that thirty three thousand people see those every time he pushes the enter button. For a second I get nearly metaphysical, wondering what all this means.

Well, it mean this is going to be a helluva fight, for one thing, and that 2018 is all important. So vote. If you love your Bill of Rights and constitution, you must vote. Resisting is all well and good, but voting wins.

Kurt Schlichter

Kurt Schlichter with what looks like a damn fine cigar.

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