I found a list the other day showing how many wars the United States has been involved in since our revolution. There have been 35. That means that the average period between wars since 1775 is about 6.8 years. War, it seems, is quite common among us in the United States.
Most of us over the age of 30 can probably identify the causes of the Revolutionary war. Probably most people would have an idea of the causes of the Civil War and perhaps WWII. The other wars, though, not so much. For example, how many might know the causes of the War of 1812? Or the Tecumseh war? The Spanish American war? Or others fought throughout our history. I couldn’t tell you.
I can tell you that wars are fought in order to gain economically, or to accumulate power, or to impose a religious/ideological philosophy. Perhaps a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, the goal is always to force one’s will on another. A defeated enemy – the losers – must submit to the winner. To the victor go the spoils and all that.
The military strategist Carl Von Clausewitz wrote, “war is… politics by other means.” It stands to reason then that politics is war by other means. Looked at in this way, we, especially in the United States, are in a constant state of war with one another; a constant “civil” war. Our political system rests on the premise that “civil”, informed debate between opposing points of view produces policies that best represent the will of the people. But, this continuing, constant debate means that U.S. politics also fosters a perpetual cold war among us.
Our perpetual, electoral seasons are chock full of war terms and phrases: battlegrounds, campaigns, targets, war rooms, strategy, and planning. Our political system is a war machine. Political campaigns are our way of avoiding hot wars. Always, though, one political party is at war with the other, dividing the electorate into factions, pitting one side against another. Not, mind you, for the interests of the nation as a whole but for partisan, selfish, parochial, interests. Wars have winners and losers. What kind of politics pits half the nation against the other; making half the nation losers?
Which brings us to the last 50 years of political cold wars; wars in my lifetime. There is the:
Culture War, Race War, War on Academic Standards, War on Adoption, War on Cars, War on Christians, War on Christmas, War on Coal, War on Common Sense, War on Consciousness, War on Corporate Evil, War on Drugs, War on Education, War on Fat, War on Food Stamps, War on Football, War on Gay Marriage, War on Guns, War on Immigration, War on Kids, War on Lemonade Stands, War on Liberty, War on Marriage, War on Men, War on Muslims, War on Poverty, War on Private Property, War on Prosperity, War on Religion, War on Science, War on Students, War on the Environment, War on the Poor, War on the Truth, War on Whistle-Blowers, War on Women, War on Words, War on Workers, War, War, War. A war every 1.3 years, every electoral season.
Naming electoral wars probably began with Johnson’s “War on Poverty” – a war which continues to this day; one we have miserably lost to the tune of trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of wasted lives held in poverty by nanny-state policies. Then there’s the War on Drugs. Another abject failure. Both these so-called wars have exacerbated the problems they were meant to solve. But have also inevitably given rise to a much larger State intrusion into our lives, a commensurate growing of the federal bureaucracy, as well as a demonstrable destruction of innocent persons and families; collateral damage.
And now there’s the completely pathetic declaration by Democrats of the “War on Women”. Exactly what is this “War on Women”? As near as I can tell it’s ensuring that women can have free birth control, free abortifacients, and unfettered access to abortions all paid for and subsidized by others. It sounds to me more like an insurance plan for prostitutes. This war is evidently about consequence free sexual intercourse. It is obviously directed towards promiscuous single females whom Democrats have identified as helpless, hapless, victims of this completely fabricated, so-called war. But it serves their partisan purpose. To divide the country. To win votes. To get elected. To assume power. To impose their ideology. To plunder the treasury to reward their friends.
To me, however, these wars are only battles in a much larger war. A war on one idea. The idea that people can govern themselves. It’s a war on our founding principle. Each political party wages it against the other in order to govern against the will of half the people. To paraphrase Madison, our politicians, “have, … divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to … oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”
I remember when America used to stand for free enterprise. I remember reading what Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of America is business”. I remember our culture extolling the virtues of rugged individualism. Now it stands for nanny-state, baby-sitting for an aging citizenry who are unsuccessfully trying to sustain their own comfortable positions at the expense of a declining youth culture weaning on government beneficence.
The fact is, our political, electoral, cold wars only serve politicians and the ruling class in government. They certainly do not serve the people or the nation as a whole. They make half a nation losers when the purpose of any political system is to solve collective problems while mitigating negative consequences. Some wars energize a nation, solidify its people, promote unity. These constant electoral wars debilitate a nation, waste resources, degenerate, demoralize, and weaken it. Americans, together, will always rise to legitimate, national causes which threaten us and we fight exhaustively in order to prevail. We have demonstrated our meddle time and again throughout our brief history. We worked hard, we fought hard. And on our days off we played hard. We became weekend warriors. But these interminable, selfish, narrow-minded political squabbles now have only made us “weakened warriors”.