Civil War — MAGA & the Abolitionists

Republican MAGA movement folks have been predicting another civil war. The federal government’s deep state is trampling upon their freedoms and those of former President Donald Trump.

Two days after Election Day in 2020, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers armed extremist group, told his high-ranking members: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war.” Twitter posts mentioning “civil war” soared nearly 3,000 percent, denouncing the F.B.I. for searching Donald J. Trump’s Florida home for missing classified documents.

The last time a civil war was threatened occurred was when the Abolitionists, the core group creating the emerging new liberal Republican Party, pushed the Southern states to abandon slavery.

Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats were fiercely divided on whether enslaved Black people should be freed, but it took place within the context of individual states defining citizenship. Did the federal government have the right to declare new states free from slavery? Or should the new states have the freedom to have Black slaves?

The threat of civil war then and now is about defining citizenship. In the past, the struggle was to allow Black slaves to achieve citizenship. Today it is to secure functional citizenship for ethnic and cultural minorities.

History does not repeat itself as a carbon copy. Instead, it replicates patterns. By identifying them, we can better comprehend how our current social movements sustain or destroy our democratic society.

The abolitionist movement became the most significant disruptive political movement of the late 1850s; the biggest today is MAGA. Each achieved a national presence by displacing the leadership of one of the existing two political parties that form a duopoly of controlling national political power. The Whig Party floundered and then folded as the abolitionists made the Republican Party the second-largest party in the nation. Since the election of Donald J. Trump as President, the establishment Republican political leaders have succumbed to the MAGA wing of their party because of its grip on the primary system.

Although abolitionists did not initially push for expanding citizenship, once Black slaves were to be freed, they did not…