The Battle for the White House 2020 will not be remembered for the ‘nip and tuck’ counting of votes between Biden and Trump, but more for the polarisation it has caused in American politics, heralding what I honestly believe will be America’s Second Civil War.
The original American Civil War between the Northern and Southern states erupted over a four-year period in the latter years of the 19th century - 1861 to 1865, with some estimates suggesting it caused more than 850,000 deaths.
It is somewhat ironic that it will also be another four years until the next Presidential elections in 2024 and already Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for that battle.
The state of Pennsylvania was key to deciding the eventual outcome of the original Civil War as the state hosted one of the bloodiest battles of that war - Gettysburg between 1st and 3rd July 1863.
The Union forces defeated the Confederacy, and the battle cost an estimated 7,000 dead and 51,000 casualties, but decided the course of the war in favour of the Union.
Pennsylvania is also a key state in deciding who gets the keys to the modern White House.
America has always been championed as one of the Western world’s great global democracies. But after this year’s Presidential campaign, American democracy urgently needs at least a major reboot, certainly an in-depth rethink.
The Black Lives Matter campaign saw vicious clashes between protesters and the police. But now it seems that the two main political ‘big beasts’ of American politics - the Democratic and Republican parties are both gearing up their supporters for street confrontations.
Trump has now moved beyond a contentious figure in American politics. The Trump Movement now dominates the traditionally Right-wing of the Republican Party, just as Joe Biden’s ultra liberal bandwagon now runs the rival Democratic Party.
Compromise and concession seem to have been eradicated from the American political vocabulary and it seems America as a country now finds itself back in time in 1968 Northern Ireland when the sectarian strife known as the Troubles finally erupted.
As Republicans and Democrats take to the American streets to confront each other physically, previous historical confrontations, such as the campaigns for American civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War, seem to pale into insignificance as this Second American Civil War Looms.
Hard Left agitators will hijack the Democrats’ campaign, just as the Far Right militias and the KKK will seek to use the Republican cause for their own ends.
It would be one of the great ironies of global politics if we in Ireland - in terms of power-sharing - were called upon to show the Americans how the politics of compromise works, given the massive role which the United States played in bringing about the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the ensuing peace process.
The rows of the Stormont Executive will seem like a Sunday school picnic compared to what could be unleashed in the White House, House of Representatives and the Senate over the next four years - and beyond.
The economic and health fallouts from the Covid 19 pandemic will take second place as Republican and Democrat supporters lock horns over every issue imaginable.
In spite of this picture of future doom and gloom across the Pond, the key questions remain - how can, if its possible, America be healed? Can Democrats and Republicans ever reconcile themselves to work together for the greater good and benefit of its citizens?
And as a Christian myself, I must ask - what role can the Churches play in this healing process? After all, the Churches did play a major role historically in the civil rights campaign of Sixties America.
Over the decades, especially in the 20th century, the so-called Moral Majority of Christians has been a key lobby group which many Presidential candidates have courted.
But in an ever increasingly secular society, do the Christian Churches still wield the same political influence as they did during the Kennedy and Reagan years? Is that really a bygone era in American politics?
In Ireland’s conflicts, it was often suggested there was ‘too much religion and not enough Christianity.’ Has America of 2020 now coined the maxim - ‘there’s too much confrontation and not enough compromise’?
Just as Northern Ireland once packed off all its Assembly members to South Africa to observe the peace process in that land, should we send all our MLAs to the White House and Washington to teach the latest generation of American politician how to work together in a spirit of reconciliation?
For generations, missionaries from Ireland travelled the globe to bring the Christian message to foreign cultures. But with Ireland, as an island, becoming increasingly secular, missionaries from those foreign lands are now coming to the Emerald Isle to evangelise us!
The real worry about the state of American politics is; are there people in the United States who are considering starting a global war with some nation simply to divert attention away from the deep internal political rifts which have emerged?
Okay, I know that last paragraph may sound like a line straight out of the famous 1964 black comedy, Dr Strangelove, but as I write, is someone, somewhere in America devising a ‘new enemy’ which needs to be challenged and eradicated to ‘ensure the safety of the land of the free’?
Whatever the fragile and volatile state of current American politics, one fact cannot be ignored - the United States has a vast arsenal of weapons, especially on the nuclear front.
America was for decades sending peace envoys to Ireland to heal the sectarian rifts which had polluted Irish politics for centuries. Perhaps the time has now arrived for a joint Stormont/Dail delegation of envoys to arriving in Washington to calm tensions before the red buttons are pressed?
Listen to Dr John Coulter’s religious show, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, or listen online at www.thisissunshine.com