Shutdown Foreshadows Political Collapse In America

Lëtzebuergesch: *Sujet:Boston Tea Party Source...

“Boston Tea Party.” Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My working title for this post was “Non-Shooting Civil War In America.”  I thought that might be over the top, if only by a little.

I don’t see immediate danger of violent civil war in America, but I think today’s U.S. government shutdown is collapse by premeditated sabotage by political failure. In other words, our regular political process for resolving differences has failed. Moreover, the failure is not accidental; it’s intentional. Congress, especially, has failed big time.

The reason there’s no panic (yet) is that most of us believe the government shutdown is temporary. Let us hope that is the case. But be aware that cataclysmic historic social and political upheavals don’t happen suddenly. They build by small steps.  The step-by-step sleepwalk leading to World War II is painfully obvious in the history of the 1920s and 1930s.

More relevant to present events in America is the history of the 1850s leading to the Civil War. Social and economic divisions in the U.S. were apparent from the beginning of the nation. Up until 1850, differences were always defused by compromise. After 1850, many hoped the Union could still be saved, and many searched for compromise. But step-by-step over a decade, passions became inflamed in both North and South. The political process failed to achieve a peaceful resolution.

Sometimes political failure goes downhill with no brakes. Unforeseen  events can accelerate the momentum. A runaway locomotive roars through an invisible sound barrier and becomes as unstable as nitroglycerin.

What is the reason to believe the government shutdown will be brief? Haven’t   extreme conservatives accomplished the goal they’ve been chasing for 50 years or more — limited government?

The U.S. government is shut down, except for essential employees. The military, prison guards, and air traffic controllers stay on the job. Isn’t that exactly the limited government the extreme right wants? National defense and homeland security, and nothing else. Hard-line conservatives don’t want to spend money on  parks, environmental regulation, nutrition programs. They don’t want taxes to be collected, and they certainly have no sympathy for unemployed government workers. What’s the problem? Well, Social Security checks are still going out;  conservatives must be a bit miffed about that.

The Gadsden flag

The Gadsden flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Face it, the Tea Party is in heaven right now. I don’t see a referee and I don’t see a penalty flag. Why would the Tea Party give up the goal they’ve scored?

The take-away:  America’s political system is in failure. If the situation continues for a few weeks and leads to default on the federal debt, America will then be in political collapse. From there, the situation is more likely to get worse than better.

Scenario: Denial and complacency give way to inflamed passions on all sides. The Tea Party becomes bolder. Average Americans become resigned:  “This ain’t so bad. I can get by, long as airplanes don’t fall out of the sky.”

Other average Americans become incensed. Services they need grind to a halt. The economy is nose down, going into free fall.

When that happens — and what, exactly, is to prevent it? — America will be in political collapse. And economic collapse. Sinking like a stone.

A panicked struggle to regain control would look and feel exactly like North and South in the days before Fort Sumter. Inflamed passions, dug-in positions, determination to fight for principle.

Please note that I am NOT advocating civil war. I’m sounding a warning. There may be a few days left to avert disaster. If passions do become inflamed past the point of no return, I pray it will be a non-shooting civil war.

But please remember, an angry minority in America is armed to the teeth.

Maps showing the general outline of “Divided America” are here.

For more thoughts, read “Democracy At A Crossroads.” 

What do you think is going to happen?

— John Hayden

7 thoughts on “Shutdown Foreshadows Political Collapse In America

  1. Pingback: Last Chance | Clarissa's Blog

  2. Thanks for the pingback, Clarissa. Your take on the matter is right on, IMO. How did you ever roll up more than a million views on your blog? I suspect it’s because you post frequently and have a strong point of view.


    • Contradiction alert, Mark! Only prob is, if govt stays shut down and goes into default in a few weeks, then most bills will not get paid at all, the full faith and credit of the USA will be in shreds, China will sell all its U.S. bonds and stocks, the economy will crash, and interest on the national debt will continue to accrue. Are any of those consequences helpful?


  3. I can only hope that the House GOP will figure out that most Americans will blame them for the suffering that develops, and pull some face saving exit strategy together. Either that or John Boehner will arrange for someone to visit each of them at their homes late at night and show them Von Goom’s Gambit.

    Which is as to say, I’m down to praying for supernatural intervention.


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