In 1919 World War I was called the Great War. Nothing like it had ever occurred, both in terms of numbers involved, casualties amassed, and weapons employed.
Twenty-six years later, when another even more horrific war ended, the Great War became World War I. Make room for the new champ! WWII.
It was a stroke of genius, the name that is: it left open the possibilities of more and better great wars. WWIII, WWIV—eventually the abbreviations would begin looking like words.
I bring that up today for obvious reasons: Our hyperbolic and typically misinformed president has promised a civil war if his impeachment continues. It’s a foolish promise, and a particularly heinous reference: most Americans gladly celebrate the Fourth of July and the War of Independence, but shrink at the mention of our bloodiest conflict—the Civil War. It’s the blackest of black marks on our history.
So far, that is. We will have to await the analysis of Donald Trump’s repellant presidency to see where that black mark lands on the ignominy list. Somewhere near the top for sure. He likes winning—there's a chance.
But Trump, who is wrong about so many things, is also wrong about this. Oh he has the war part right—but it won’t be Civil War II. Instead, it will be the Second War of American Independence—when the common people stand up and overthrow the oligarchs and autocrats in order to reaffirm democracy and majority rule. It won’t be pretty—no war is—and in the end we may wake up in a new country.
If so, we can keep the flag—after all we have all those lapel pins stockpiled—and I hope we can keep the name. (What would become of the group America, or Tom Petty’s “American Girl” (raised on promises), or all those patriotic songs we learned? No we’ll keep all that, but the electoral college will be up for grabs, and so will lifetime Supreme Court appointments, current voting district lines, and tax laws that facilitate the top wealthiest 1% possessing 40% of the nation's wealth.
All men created equal? No. All people.
One man, one vote? No. One person, one vote.
And it won’t take an amendment to outlaw slavery, or to give women control of their own bodies. We will have learned all that from the first revolution, nearly 250 years ago.
Two hundred-fifty years is nothing to sneeze at. We had a good run, but if Trump wants war, then let’s not fight among ourselves. Civil conflicts are anything but civil—remember your uncle last Thanksgiving when someone said "speaking of turkey..." and Trump's name came up? We don't want that.
But if Trump does indeed want war (his bone spurs should keep him safely sequestered somewhere) and it turns out to be a revolt against an imperial presidency and a sycophantic Congress, that might be something for which to set off fireworks—and maybe even have a military parade someday at Mara Lago.
Those tanks on the greens and fairways—it'll be like hanging effigies of King George III all over again. Those of us less than 300 years old probably missed that the first time.