There will not be a second civil war. Sure, racial and ideological tensions are escalating. However, I find it highly unlikely that a civil war on the level of the one in 1860s will occur.
First off, the Civil War of the 1860s had very well-defined cultural regions that were highly polarized. In the election of 1860, most Southern slave states so strongly opposed the Republican’s antislavery stance that they excluded its candidate Abraham Lincoln from the ballot. Needless to say, when Lincoln ended up winning, these states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy.
Today, the South is still largely conservative, but it’s not a monolith. There are pockets of liberalism forming what is the New South. Northern Virginia today would shun its Confederate battle flag. A lesbian couple can comfortably hold hands in Asheville, North Carolina. Modern professionals dominate the Research Triangle of central North Carolina. Northerners un-ironically enjoy Atlanta. Southern Florida is not even remotely “Southern.” It’s more likely you’ll hear New York accents than a Southern drawl. Miami is a hub for Spanish-speaking immigrants. Austin, Texas, is one of the hippest cities in America. Oxford, Mississippi, is a hub for poets and authors. Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the few places you can spot an African-American man wearing a Tupac shirt and a cowboy hat. Meanwhile, there are several counties in Pennsylvania that voted as strongly for Trump as those in Alabama. And Kid Rock is from Michigan.
In reality, division in America doesn’t simply come down to regional differences but rather differences in population density, income, and education. Democrats can pull a lot of votes in cities, even in much of the South. Republicans rely on rural voters who oppose much of the change occurring in cities. With the election of Trump, differences between white-collar and blue-collar Americans has become a part of the national conversation. In many cases, these groups segregate themselves geographically. Cities and suburbs attract professionals, while rural areas and small towns attract working-class Americans.
As far as racial differences, wealthier white families often send their children to private schools while lower-income African-American families remain in public schools. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is notorious for having a mostly white private school system and a mostly black public school system. It’s not the only place that’s like that. Even in Northern cities, segregation is rampant in Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cleveland. However, for some reason, that’s not good enough for white separatists who promote even further separation of the races. The point is that segregation isn’t regional, it’s local. That complicates the possibility of a civil war between regions.
Next, soldiers stationed at any military base in the United States originate from several regions, not just the base’s region thereof. In other words, soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, New York, will not just be from the North but also from the South. Soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will come from not only North Carolina but also from the North. If any soldiers stationed at a base started an insurrection, there would be loyalist troops there to respond promptly.
In the near term, a war between the U.S. government and a Southern separatist government is next to impossible. Unlike in 1860, Southern politicians won’t support secession when they support the current president (Donald Trump). Liberal voters elsewhere won’t rise up against the U.S. government in military fashion. Their opposition toward gun use means they would be thwarted easily, and the government could simply throw them in prison for disturbing the peace.
Even if opposing ideological groups became militant, those groups would be formed locally as opposed to regionally due to high ideological diversity within one state and even one metropolitan area. There may be self-declared militias that attack their opponents, but you won’t see separatist tanks rolling through city streets. Politicians themselves won’t commit individual acts of violence, but their tolerance of oppression can further divide our country. America will not plunge into a second civil war, but we need to condemn hatred, fight systematic oppression, and understand why people support a position that opposes ours. If we don’t do this, there will continue to be more instances that make us say, “I don’t want to live in America anymore.”