As Americans squabbled in the weeks ahead of the election, I occasionally cracked some joke about how the election was going to be Nov. 3 — clearly an oversimplification on my part — and the civil war would begin on Nov. 4, the same day the virus was supposed to go away. Maybe the virus will go away when they finally certify all of the results.
But with so many states decided — or kinda decided — by tiny percentages of votes and a president firing up his base with allegations that he got robbed because of counting, the prospect of civil war is not something a smart-aleck commentator like myself should even talk about.
So let me talk about it.
I grew up a big Civil War buff — you know, that old school kind of Civil War where whole states picked sides like just before the kickball game at elementary school recess.
“OK, I’ll take Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina …”
“And I’ll take New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio …”
“What about us?”
“Oh, Kentucky and Missouri, um, y’all kinda sit over there for a bit.”
Not only did they draw clear lines between sides, but they even had very clear team colors — blue or gray. Clearly, the South was kind of poor and could not afford more exciting colors.
The battle lines in the looming post-election civil war, though, are not so clear. Sides are divided within states, within cities, within neighborhoods. In the 1860s, you didn’t have Billy Yank living next-door to Johnny Reb. Now, you’ve got Democrats living next-door to Republicans, on the left side, I imagine.
Even the blue vs. red division is idealogical and not literal. Democrats don’t walk around dressed in blue, especially if they are Georgia Bulldog fans. Granted, you can usually look at someone and have a pretty good idea if they’re a Trumper, with their trucker hats, lack of a mask and flags hanging off of their pickup truck. Then again, some folks who look like Confederate generals, such as Sam Elliott, might not be the right-winger you thought they were.
I’m still deciding what to wear to the new civil war. Right now, I’m leaning toward body armor, shorts and flip-flops because I plan to spend a few early days of the war at the beach. Instead of war drums, I’m going to prep for battle with steel drums.
When I was a kid, I felt some weird kind of loyalty to the Confederacy when I’d read a book about the war or visit some historical site like Fort Pulaski or Lookout Mountain. Some of us who grew up in the South back in the 1970s did not fully understand what the war was all about. It was funny to call it “The War of Northern Aggression.” Seeing that flag on the General Lee gave some of us “Dukes of Hazzard” fans a little thrill.
As I got older, though, I gained a better understanding of “my side.” We were not the good guys. In fact, we were pretty doggone bad. The war was indeed about slavery. States’ rights? Yeah, states’ rights to have slaves. Still not OK in case that’s not clear.
And the Civil War site with which I was most familiar, was right there in the county where I grew up. Andersonville Prison sure was a fun place to run around with those big hills and cannons when I was 5 years old. But it wasn’t long before I understood how horrible and evil Andersonville was.
If you don’t like the results of the election, fine. If you believe it was rigged, that climate change is a hoax, the pandemic isn’t real, fine. But before you take up arms and play war with your militia buddies, take a stroll around Andersonville. I’ve been there many times. So, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna sit this civil war out.
In flip-flops. With my shotgun nearby. Just in case.