The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War

Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win

Peter Leyden
Jan 19, 2018 · 14 min read

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Understanding the Context of the New American Civil War

This is no ordinary political moment. Trump is not the reason this is no ordinary time — he’s simply the most obvious symptom that reminds us all of this each day.

Two Systems at Odds

America’s original Civil War was not just fought to emancipate slaves for humanitarian reasons. The conflict was really about the clash between two very different economic systems that were fundamentally at odds and ultimately could not coexist. The Confederacy was based on an agrarian economy dependent on slaves. The Union was based on a new kind of capitalist manufacturing economy dependent on free labor. They tried to somehow coexist from the time of the founding era, but by the middle of the 19th century, something had to give. One side or the other had to win.

Two Classes at Odds

Another driver on the road to civil war is when two classes become fundamentally at odds. This usually takes some form of rich versus poor, the wealthy and the people, the 1 percent and the 99 percent. The system gets so skewed toward those at the top that the majority at the bottom rises up and power shifts.

Two Cultures at Odds

The differences between two economic systems or two classes that are fundamentally at odds could conceivably get worked out through a political process that peacefully resolves differences. However, culture frequently gets in the way. That’s especially true when pressures are building for big system overhauls that will create new winners and losers.

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Today’s American Civil War

Trump is doing exactly what America needs him to do right now. He’s becoming increasingly conservative and outrageous by the day. Trump could have come into office with a genuinely new agenda that could have helped working people. Instead, he has spent the past year becoming a caricature of all things conservative — and in the meantime has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few.

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The Dramatic Collapse of Republicans in California

Could such as collapse of the Republican Party really happen? Won’t it take decades of trench warfare to put the GOP on the run? Not at all. A political collapse could happen very fast, as it did in California.

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Life on the Other Side of Democratic One-Party Rule

There is life on the other side of that Republican political collapse. There is a clear way forward in the land of Democratic, progressive supermajorities. California is thriving right now, the economy is booming, state government budgets are setting aside surpluses, and the public is happy with its political leaders (as we have laid out in other articles in this series). California is leading the world in technological innovation and creative policies to counter climate change.

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The Final Battle Begins in 2018

America is desperate for a functioning political supermajority that can break out of our political stasis and boldly move ahead and take on our many 21st-century challenges. The nation can’t take much more of our one step forward, one step back politics that gets little done despite the need for massive changes.

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Thanks to John Battelle

Peter Leyden

Written by

Founder of Reinvent, a future-focused Media Co; Tech & Future Trends Speaker; Author 2 Books; former Wired ME, & journalist. See Reinvent.net & PeterLeyden.com

Peter Leyden

Written by

Founder of Reinvent, a future-focused Media Co; Tech & Future Trends Speaker; Author 2 Books; former Wired ME, & journalist. See Reinvent.net & PeterLeyden.com

California Is The Future
California Is The Future
California Is The Future

About this Collection

California Is The Future

The 21st-century hit California first, and the innovative state adapted early and has pioneered a promising new way forward. The same forces in demographics, in technology adoption, in the impact of globalization and climate change, are now hitting the rest of America in a time delay. What happened politically in California about 15 years ago is hitting America now, and what’s happening politically now in California will hit the rest of America over the next 15 years. A data-driven exploration. Produced in partnership with shift.newco.co.

The 21st-century hit California first, and the innovative state adapted early and has pioneered a promising new way forward. The same forces in demographics, in technology adoption, in the impact of globalization and climate change, are now hitting the rest of America in a time delay. What happened politically in California about 15 years ago is hitting America now, and what’s happening politically now in California will hit the rest of America over the next 15 years. A data-driven exploration. Produced in partnership with shift.newco.co.

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