February 11, 2021
February 11, 2021
Market Affecting Events No One Believes Can Happen Reconstruction is not the Second American Civil War.
It is abject failure leading to one
After the American Civil War, the federal government started in 1865–1877 a process called Reconstruction, which aimed to restore the South to the Union and update the federal and state governments in accordance with the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Due to the severity of the social, political, and constitutional challenges and conflicts of the Reconstruction Era, Reconstruction is sometimes called the “Second Civil War”. The term was cemented by the American Experience episode “Reconstruction: The Second Civil War” and made its way to the school curriculum.
How Trumpism Is Becoming America’s New “Lost Cause”
The idea of a new Civil War has been coursing through the national conversation lately, as Americans try to make sense of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, or the polls showing most Republicans still don’t recognize Joe Biden’s election. Fox News segments have warned that Democrats want to force a “new version of Reconstruction” on an unsuspecting public.
Overblown? Maybe. But one of America’s preeminent historians of that era thinks there’s good reason for the comparison. “We really have arrived at, it appears, two irreconcilable Americas with their own information systems, their own facts, their own story, their own narrative,” says David Blight, the legendary Yale historian whose work studying the Civil War and Reconstruction Era won him a Pulitzer Prize.
The threat he sees isn’t that there will be another literal war: It’s the threat of two rival stories about America taking root, as they did after the Civil War. One of them, a heroic “Lost Cause” narrative of a noble Confederacy whose soldiers sacrificed themselves for honor and tradition, flourished for decades, justifying the fight for slavery, and continuing to distort American politics to this day.
As Donald Trump’s more extremist followers cling to his bogus claims of a stolen election, wrapping Trump’s complaints into a nationalist counternarrative driven by racial anxiety and anger at the government, they risk creating a legacy that will divide the country long after the man himself leaves the stage. “In search of a story—in search of a history, in search of a leader, in search of anything they can attach to—lost causes tend to become these great mythologies whose great conspiracy theories tend to explain everything,” says Blight.
Witness, for instance, the bizarre staying power of QAnon—the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that imagined Trump would remain in power after January 20 as he fought off a cabal of Satanic pedophiles who secretly control the government. January 20 came and went. Joe Biden was sworn in. And while some QAnon devotees found themselves humiliated and questioning their beliefs, others doubled down, moving the goalposts—it’s all part of the plan, just wait and see.
“At the heart of a lost cause, if it has staying power, is its capacity to turn itself into a victory story,” says Blight. “Can Trumpism convert itself into some kind of victory story? We don’t know that yet.”
Especially in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, cries for unity have been heard throughout Washington, as the need to come together feels more urgent than it has in years. Here, Blight sees a useful lesson to be found in history: “In all the work I’ve done on the Civil War and public memory, the central thing I’ve learned is that you can’t have healing without some balance with justice,” says Blight. “You have to have both. The justice has to be just as real as any kind of healing.”
How does America move forward? Who gets to decide how we, as a public, remember our shared history? POLITICO Magazine spoke with Blight this week. A condensed transcript of that conversation follows, edited for length and clarity.
It seems that many Americans have the Civil War era on their minds, especially since the insurrection and the first nonpeaceful transfer of power since the 1860s. You know that era better than almost anyone. Do 2020 and 2021 remind you of 1860 and 1861?
The threat of domestic terrorism remains high, says US Homeland Security, with Donald Trump supporters ’emboldened’ by Capitol attack
The threat of a violent attack in the United States is likely to remain high for a number of weeks, with extremists and angry Donald Trump supporters “emboldened” by the deadly US Capitol riots and seizing on COVID-19 misinformation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a “terror advisory” on Wednesday (local time), warning the risk of violence and terrorism “will persist in the weeks following the successful presidential inauguration”.
It did not specify any particular threat.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the alert said.
The Threat of Authoritarianism In The U.S. Is Very Real, And Has Nothing To Do With Trump: Greenwald
The dominant strain of U.S. neoliberalism — the ruling coalition that has now consolidated power again — is authoritarianism. They view those who oppose them and reject their pieties not as adversaries to be engaged but as enemies, domestic terrorists, bigots, extremists and violence-inciters to be fired, censored, and silenced. And they have on their side — beyond the bulk of the corporate media, and the intelligence community, and Wall Street — an unprecedentedly powerful consortium of tech monopolies willing and able to exert greater control over a population that has rarely if ever, been so divided, drained, deprived and anemic.
All of these authoritarian powers will, ironically, be invoked and justified in the name of stopping authoritarianism — not from those who wield power but from the movement that was just removed from power. Those who spent four years shrieking to great profit about the dangers of lurking “fascism” will — without realizing the irony — now use this merger of state and corporate power to consolidate their own authority, control the contours of the permissible debate, and silence those who challenge them even further. Those most vocally screaming about growing authoritarianism in the U.S. over the last four years were very right in their core warning, but very wrong about the real source of that danger.
How America Changed During Donald Trump’s Presidency
Trump’s status as a political outsider, his outspoken nature and his willingness to upend past customs and expectations of presidential behavior made him a constant focus of public attention, as well as a source of deep partisan divisions.
Even before he took office, Trump divided Republicans and Democrats more than any incoming chief executive in the prior three decades.1 The gap only grew more pronounced after he became president. An average of 86% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling of the job over the course of his tenure, compared with an average of just 6% of Democrats – the widest partisan gap in approval for any president in the modern era of polling.2 Trump’s overall approval rating never exceeded 50% and fell to a low of just 29% in his final weeks in office, shortly after a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol.
Republicans and Democrats weren’t just divided over Trump’s handling of the job. They also interpreted many aspects of his character and personality in fundamentally opposite ways. In a 2019 survey, at least three-quarters of Republicans said the president’s words sometimes or often made them feel hopeful, entertained, informed, happy and proud. Even larger shares of Democrats said his words sometimes or often made them feel concerned, exhausted, angry, insulted and confused.
Hedge Fund CIO: “The Truth Is That America’s Self-Destructive Odyssey Has Only Just Begun”
From Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
Dusted off an anecdote from my discussion with a Nobel Laureate on thought viruses, memes, idea-microbes, contagion (see below). After generations of relative social calm, when the things that drove markets were petty bumps in unemployment/inflation and periodic crises of our own creation, we must reorient our trading/investing around societal narratives. Because, as much as those hoping for a return to normalcy try to see today’s DC drama as the final chapter in a short story, the truth is that America’s self-destructive odyssey has only just begun.
And like all our great nation’s harrowing wanders through the wilderness, the reward will be renewal – but not for a decade.
An Ominous Sign: Americans Have Begun Stealing Food To Survive
If you’ve been waiting for a sign that things are really bad economically in the United States, here it is. Americans who never would have contemplated shoplifting before are stealing food to survive.
One of the things that we often say in preparedness circles as we watch chaotic Black Friday scenes or fiery riots unfold is, “You think it’s bad now? Just wait until people are hungry!” Well, guess what? People are hungry. Food insecurity and hunger
DHS Issues New Terror Advisory On “Domestic Violent Extremists” Who “Object To Presidential Transition”
On Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security issued a new “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” or NTAS for the United States.
But the newest DHS posting emphasized the “domestic threat” of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” with objections to “the presidential transition” — a clear reference to the Capitol Hill riot of January 6, as well as to the “predicted” follow-up mass demonstrations and assaults on D.C. which never materialized (resulting in thousands of bored National Guardsmen sauntering around Washington).
Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”
Jack F. Cahn, CMT
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