The intensification of the Russia hysteria after the Helsinki summit, primarily among the propaganda nexus of the intel agencies and the news media, has convinced me 95% of the following parallels to the 1850s:
1. This end-of-an-era (or "disjunctive") phase of the Reagan period will last two terms instead of the usual one.
2. We are headed toward some degree of civil war.
3. The civil war will be made worse by the greater pressure built up during this prolonged disjunctive phase.
4. The prolonging of the disjunctive phase is due to a fragmenting opposition party.
Rather than rehash the arguments from that earlier post, let's examine more key parallels between the Democrat establishment of today and the Know Nothings of the 1850s. As a reminder, the Know Nothings were a splinter group from the opposition Whig party, and favored the dominant Democrat party on the main issue of the day, being pro-slavery rather than abolitionist. They viewed both the abolitionists and secessionists as extremes that needed to be avoided, lest they plunge the nation into civil war.
They campaigned on maintaining the status quo during a polarized period where two hostile sides were headed toward an impasse after an uneasy truce had been broken by the dominant party. The Democrats under Pierce passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, over-turning the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and leading to small-scale civil war during "Bleeding Kansas" that followed.
The other faction of the opposition Whigs were the Republicans, who leaned toward abolition of slavery. They did not want to pursue a phony neutrality, but to dethrone the dominant party and take their place, carrying out a whole new vision for the country -- not just winning another brief term nominally in control of government while still serving the big-picture agenda set by the dominant party.
Today, the dominant party is the GOP, whose neoliberal and militarist agenda began with Reagan in 1980. The opposition Democrats are splintered into two factions -- one promising to maintain the status quo, the other to re-shape society away from business as usual of the past 40 years. The Clintonites see both the GOP and their Bernie rivals within the opposition as extremes that must be avoided, lest they plunge the nation into civil war. And they're pretending neutrality is possible when the neoliberal and militarist agenda is advancing to levels thought impossible during the New Deal / Great Society era.
And yet, the status quo proponents still need an enemy to explain why things are so tense and why our stability is unraveling. Their whole message is "putting country above party," so the enemy can't be either party, or any of their factions, per se. Their view holds our own country to be indivisible as an agent, meaning some external power must be the malevolent source of our domestic tensions. For the Clintonites, it is Russia, the Kremlin, and Putin. For the Know Nothings, it was Catholicism, the Vatican, and the Pope.
A widespread misunderstanding of the Know Nothings is that they were nativist or anti-immigration. But they were just fine with Scotch-Irish immigrants, who were Protestant rather than Catholic like their fellow Celtic neighbors from Ireland. And they were fine with German Lutheran immigrants, who were Protestant rather than Catholic like their fellow Germanic neighbors from Germany. They were specifically worried about the Pope as an external puppet master -- Catholic immigrants were just his unwitting dupes or his willing foot soldiers, whereas true blame lay with the puppet master himself.
Likewise the Clintonites are not worried about all foreign leaders -- only those that sit like a dictator atop a rigidly hierarchical society, allowing them to play a puppet master role, akin to the Pope over the Catholic population (in their cartoon view). If such dictators align with American neoliberal and militarist interests -- like the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia -- well that's no problem for the Clintonites. But if that dictator went against our interests, like Putin, then he might be able to influence our domestic climate against the sacrosanct status quo. The tentacles of the Kremlin reach deep into the American population, in the Russiagaters' view, whether the Americans are unwitting dupes (Trump voters) or willing foot soldiers (Carter Page etc.).
The Know Nothings were even tolerant of Catholic immigrants, provided that we deprogrammed them from their Papal brainwashing by making them read Protestant versions of the Bible and so on. And the Clintonites do not want to strip the Trump voters or Bernie supporters of their voting rights -- they can keep them, provided they get deprogrammed of their Kremlin brainwashing by binge-watching the panels full of spooks and feds on Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper.
Despite their branding as upholding norms of civility, and avoiding extremes that might destabilize our nation into civil war, the Know Nothings were paranoid fanatics whose witch hunt hysteria provoked collective political violence within our own country. Their feverish followers started election day riots in Louisville, KY and Baltimore, MD, going after the witting or unwitting agents of the external puppet master (Catholic neighborhoods). Those states were strongholds for the Whigs throughout the Jacksonian era, and for their Know Nothing faction as the era came to a close.
That was in the mid-1850s, almost where we are in the cycle -- after the mid-terms of the first term of a disjunctive presidency. Who thinks it's impossible that a mob of grassroots Russiagaters will patrol polling stations and even start riots in GOP precincts -- to ensure Putin's dupes can't get away with influencing our elections? Antifa and related groups have already done that at Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign season. And like the Know Nothing riots, these were in states that were strongholds for the opposition party, and for its Russiagater faction in particular -- like California (home of Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Maxine Waters, etc.).
In 2020, you might have to watch your back at the polls in California not only if you're voting Republican in the general, but perhaps if you give off a Bernie vibe during the primary election day. The Russiagaters won't stand for Putin duping Democrat primary voters into selecting the less electable, extremist candidate -- and if the Russiagaters can't stop your brainwashing, they'll have to stop your voting.
The far greater violence that the Know Nothings caused was the more intense Civil War that resulted from a delay in realignment, which they caused by splitting the opposition. That built up the pressure for another disjunctive four years under Buchanan. His term saw the Dred Scott decision from the Supreme Court, which not only upheld slavery but said African slaves here were not citizens. A civil war was inevitable, but by delaying its onset, the Know Nothings allowed the problems to fester more, leading to a more hostile climate when war eventually did break out.
Likewise, the Russiagaters are going to split the opposition today, and prolong the inevitable. The Know Nothings were a flash-in-the-pan minority faction, just as the Russiagaters are today. But they're a big enough minority to delay the Bernie faction in realigning out of the Reagan era, just as the Republican faction realigned out of the Jacksonian era after getting delayed by the Know Nothings.
How exactly that delay takes shape remains to be seen -- the Russiagaters could use their minority status to run a spoiler third party, as the Know Nothings did in 1856, or they could alter the rules for the next Democrat nominating convention to screw over the Bernie faction. Either way, it's looking more and more likely that the Russiagaters will cause the dominant GOP to plod through a second disjunctive term after 2020, during which time things will get so bad that the Russiagaters won't have any support in 2024, and the Bernie faction will take over for good as the new dominant party (whether by taking over the Dems or replacing them with a new party).
In the meantime, the Democrat elite sectors that are not obsessed with Russia had better start kicking out those that are, or lay the groundwork for a replacement party to be led by the Bernie faction. That means removing the influence of the propaganda nexus -- the intel agencies and news media -- while keeping the finance sector, and some of the tech sector, perhaps also peeling off the agriculture sector from the GOP.