The New Civil War: Who Is to Blame?

Bob Burnett's picture

America’s continuing budget and debt-limit crises represent more than misguided political tactics. This is a conflict between two different views of who we are, what’s important, and where the U.S. is headed. It’s a repeat of the ideological clash that resulted in the America’s first Civil War. Who started this fight?

The first Civil War, fought from 1861 to 1865, began when Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The new Civil War began with the formation of the Tea Party by the Koch brothers and the disruptive 2010 election. The two ideological insurrections have four issues in common.

Race. The first civil war was fought over slavery, the practice of owning human beings in order to force them to work without wages. This had a racial component, as well as an economic component. By 1860 there were 3.5 million black slaves in the Confederacy, 39 percent of the population. Slaves were regarded as less than human — in the original U.S. Constitution they were described as “three-fifths” of a person.

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