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From: Staring Into the Abyss: A History of the North American Republic in the First Quarter of the 21st Century, Copyright 2097, Professor Allan Richardson, Yale University Press

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As we have seen in the preceding chapter, at no time since 1860 had the United States of America stood as close to civil war as it did a mere eight years after the turn of the century. With unprecedented sharp divisions in political, economic and social philosophy; with a near perfect balance in the electorate, the Congress, and the utterly political Supreme Court; with the growing specter of political failure equating to the levying of criminal charges, conviction and prison, politics—American politics—had become a very dangerous game indeed.

This was brought home to all with the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of former President Thomas Jefferson Gates on charges of corruption, bribe taking, rape, aggravated sexual assault, unnatural acts, abuse of office, misappropriation of funds, and treason, the imprisonment itself leading to the former chief of state's beating, homosexual rape and murder by strangulation after his Secret Service detail was withdrawn by presidential order. It could well be said that no national-level politician could any longer afford to lose an election; the consequences had simply become too dire.1 

No more could one political party or the other afford losing its control of at least one body of the government: Executive, Legislative or Judicial, for without some political or quasi-political safe harbor, some means of countering and stymieing the opposing party, every member of each party faced a similar fate. None were whole; none pure, and all knew it.

Yet, despite this mutual interest in maintaining the balance of power, the rewards of attaining control were simply too great to be forgone. For the Democrats, control—could it but be achieved—would make the revolution begun in the 1930s complete. Control of the economy, control of education, control of the environment (difficult to understand now, with the then-common predictions of ecological disaster proven wrong, but a powerful concern at the time); could all three branches be made to fall to the Democracy, however briefly in theory, the Democrats could so arrange matters that no one and nothing could ever remove them from power, or alter their vision of America's proper and just future.

For the Republicans, however, the Democratic dream was a nightmare: thought control through linguistic control, micromanagement of the economy by those least suited to economic power, social engineering under the aegis of the most doctrinaire of the social engineers, disarmament of the population and the creation of a police state to rival that of Stalin or Hitler, at least in its scope if not by design in its evil.

Indeed, it could be said that it was precisely the seventy years of open and quasi war with first Hitler, then Stalin, then with the heirs of Stalin that had put the United States in the position in which it found itself at the beginning of the 21st Century.

For, as a wise man of the times had once put it, "You should choose your enemies carefully, because you are going to become just like them."

And so, subtly, too slowly to be perceived, the United States had become—if not "just," then certainly much—like its erstwhile enemies.

Not that there had been great choice in the matter. Faced with totalitarian propaganda, the United States had learned to twist truth in self-defense. Faced with planned economies, economies able to challenge the west only through inflicting deprivations on the workers, the United States had been forced to greater and greater economic control emanating from Washington. Faced with the possibility of armed invasion (though we know now that was never a realistic concern) the central federal government was forced into taking on more and more responsibility under the aegis of national self-defense.

From the national highway system (to move the military to the ports and defense materials to and from the factories) to the school lunch program (to provide educable cannon fodder for the wars and campaigns) to rates and levels of taxation we can today only marvel at (to pay for waging an often hidden conflict by land, sea, air, in space and—through propaganda and strings-attached foreign aid—in the hearts of the uncommitted); each and every spurt of growth in federal power, each Republican-detested centralization of authority, the Republicans had themselves fought for, at a minimum acquiesced in, in the interests of winning the seventy year war.

Yet, less than a generation after the successful closure of that interminable conflict the Unites States found itself as thoroughly divided into two hostile camps as had been the world previously.

Briefly, things seemed to be on the road to improvement. National political and philosophical differences seemed cast aside one terrible morning in 2001 amidst the shrieks of thousands of bombed, battered, burning victims of a vicious terrorist attack that threw all awry.

With the screams of the dying in their ears, the vision of the flames seared onto their eyes, no one, not Republican, not Democrat, not the man or woman on the streets resisted for a moment the most severe curtailing of civil liberties in the history of the Republic. Thus when, seven years later, the United States emerged victorious from what was known in some circles as "The Arab War," in some as "The Moslem War," in most as "The War against Terror," not only were all the previous differences found to be still largely intact, the mechanisms of control had been much improved and enhanced.

Worse, as it had been in 1860, the balance was near perfect . . . and perfectly precarious. The slightest shift left or right could tumble the entire shaky edifice into ruin, even into civil war.

Fortunately, at that time the right person, the right woman, appeared at hand.


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