It took me ten years to complete my book The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age. It started with an essay titled “How the Earth Was Forgotten In Creation” back in 1997. That essay dealt with the ugly ideological divide building between literalistic Christians and those who believe in science, evolution, environmentalism and earth stewardship.
But with the election of George W. Bush in 2000, and the obvious doctrinal politics linking religious and political absolutism behind the so-called “victory” that included equally obvious strong-arming of the political process, the book expanded in scope with every passing year.
One of the emerging dynamics in the early days of the Bush administration was the corporatism in the entire approach to politics. Dick Cheney was so tied in with his Halliburton connections and war profiteering was clearly in place during the invasion and takeover of Iraq. Mercenaries were hired to fight the unbudgeted war. It was like pigs at the trough.
Then the Fox News phenomenon took hold through the Iraq War. The good people and conservatives I knew were sucked into that entire mentality. It was sad to see them grow in anger even when their party was in power, and entirely powerful. It was not enough to defeat their political foes and run all four branches of government. The language ramped up and turned into a culture war, one that resembles the divide between North and South during the Civil War. In other words, for all the changes, America has not really changed.
Except there was a new facet to the new corporal divide in America. Corporate money. So in writing my book I documented how and why this new component in American politics was going to define future choices of politicians. This is what I wrote:
The current-day battle between liberals and conservatives carries the same stridency and stubbornness that marked the American Civil War. The difficult question we must face is whether we can anticipate the rise of a new form of “confederacy” in the modern age.
The original, Southern Confederacy stemmed from dissatisfaction with the state of the Union and the future of government. It might seem easy to assume that the Union was 100% on the right side of political issues in the Civil War. But no matter how correct the Union cause might appear in retrospect, the Confederacy was not by definition without virtue. As a political entity it may well have been justified in defending itself against economic and military aggression by the Union. And in spite of the notion that the ideology of the Confederacy was purged through the Civil War, the personal and political freedoms advocated by the South are alive and well today in modern society, woven into the politics of libertarians and other conservatives who contend that the best government is that which governs least. These principles the Confederacy sought to defend, and the sense of pride in defending moral principles has never been lost on the South.
However unfortunate it may have been for the Confederate South to secede, one can admire the determination of the movement as symbolic of the American revolutionary spirit. It may still be possible that partisan politics to produce an America divided over ideology, geography, oligarchy, or all of the above.
Perhaps the most likely scenario is the formation of a “neo-Confederacy” around “doctrinal states” or politics focused on “Red” and “Blue” states. Proponents on either side of the political fence have begun to see the value of the “winner-take-all” approach. We are not far from a moment in history when battles over doctrinal authority could lead to a new secession in the hands of the “neo-Confederates” and the states they represent.
But there are other issues afoot as well. The next Civil War may be fought not in the fields and forests of America, but in courtrooms where armies of lawyers battle over the rights of corporations to control America’s life and politics. Corporate lobbies and revenue now influence every facet of American life. The largest corporations and the individuals who run them have more money and power than many countries in the world.44 It is not a stretch to say that one cannot become a governor, senator or representative without the backing of corporations. A neo-Confederacy of corporate largess already exists in America, and it is not limited to the Republican side of the political fence. It may not be long before the power vested in corporations becomes a self-fulfilling mandate and America will be forced to choose between its original model of a democratic republic recorded in the Constitution and a new, corporate society that is ruled by companies who run the business of America. Whether we have the courage to resist this takeover of American life is a question for our age.
And that is what has now come to pass. The November 2014 election confirms that the neo-Confederacy of corporate politics is officially, indeterminately in power. We’ll see if America has the will for another great Civil War.