There are many pivotal dates that come to mind when reviewing American history. December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and “911” when terrorists flew planes into the New York City Twin Towers, to name just two.
But could the most important and consequential date of the entirety of American history be this coming November 8th—the 2022 Mid-term elections?
When one considers the present condition of the country and the issues at hand, the idea is certainly not farfetched.
With looming inflation, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, rampant crime, the border crisis, and a former Presidential election held as questionable by many, November 8th of this year may prove the bellwether for the direction of the country for decades to come.
Even those of divergent ideology and political affiliation agree that the USA is more divided now than at any time in American history. Yes, even more divided than during the Vietnam war or the fight for civil liberties in the 1960’s.
The ideological lines have been drawn, and they are deep and wide.
There was a time when liberals and conservatives, the Left and the Right, could sit down and at least find common ground on several issues. You would be hard pressed to be able to do that today; abortion, transgenderism, crime, and immigration find Americans at opposite poles of the spectrum. The divide is so intense that even families and individual relationships have been broken over them.
History has shown that an intensely divided country cannot last for long; it will either devolve into total authoritarianism or unravel into total anarchy. It is true that there are some who would welcome either, and that in and of itself is a scary thought.
Both Republicans and Democrats also have a number of scandals to deal with, with each party trying to make political hay as a result.
The question we should be asking is: Where does this leave the American people?
Since the tug of war may not be won by any one party, they may have to make do with a situation that will not go away soon, or even in the next election cycle. It will be the every-day people who will suffer as economic policies become muddled and going to the grocery store or gas pump will be an increasingly harrowing experience.
Indeed, the American people have known great hardships in the past. However, if we are honest, we know that our present generation is quite different than that of the Great Depression, World War ll—or even the early 1960’s. This is a generation captured by quick news sound bites, short Tik Tok videos and social media where “everybody is a somebody.” This being said even though Americans are perhaps the most perceptive people on the planet.
The question may not be how resilient the American population will be, but rather how they will react under long-term economic and values assault. Can we state categorically that Americans will not take to the streets against each other? Of course, parallel to that is the fear of government response both in policing and surveillance.
Reasonable people on both sides of the aisle know that hiring 87,000 new IRS agents isn’t just to keep up with the paperwork.
As a people we tend to be focused on the here and now. But if we could extrapolate our past and present, what would we see in the future?
Many speak of an outright civil war. More likely, that war may turn out to be more benign and geographical, with conservatives heading South, and liberals digging their heels in the rarified air of the North.
Either way, we will have a country that seemingly can’t agree on anything.
Of course, once we get past November 8th, we will have a presidential election coming in two years. A lot can happen between now and then.
With a country so polarized, it will be most interesting to see whom the Democrats and Republicans choose as their champion. And, once elected, how will this person function in such a split environment?
Then, of course, there is the question of foreign policy.
Right now, the Russian/Ukrainian war looms large. The consequences of supporting Ukraine, whether it be a good or bad cause, will impact our relationship with, not only Russia proper and China, but also with our allies. The new president will have to do an immediate balancing act on the world stage that might again impact domestic policy, as funds and resources go out of the country.
As Americans, we love our comforts and the abundance that we have in our country. But, considering the present direction, these cherished elements of our society may sustain a blow.
November 8th may prove to be one of those moments in history that will forever remain in the American conscience.
Circle it on your calendar.
Joseph M Bianchi is an independent journalist located in Greenville, SC. His opinion pieces have appeared in national and international publications.