As members of Congress remain deadlocked in a fiscal impasse of historic proportion, similarities to 1861 abound
For the president, the potential catastrophe loomed as "such a far-fetched proposition as to be almost existentially impossible." Voters from across ideological and geographical lines deluged Congress with letters and petitions urging compromise. "People were starting to grasp the potential costs -- the literal costs" of not reaching one.
Nope, we're not talking about this weekend in Washington. It just feels a lot like the atmosphere on the eve of the Civil War as vividly described in Adam Goodheart's new book 1861.
The similarities to today's apocalypse-almost-now moment are striking, and underscore that the debt ceiling debate now gridlocking the nation's capital is about far more than economic policy. On the 150th anniversary of the war that pitted American against American, we seem to be spoiling to secede from our "more perfect union" again.
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As on the eve of the Civil War, there's the same weirdly passive sense of incredulity among political leaders. They seem to have been politically paralyzed into onlooker status as the nation teeters slowly towards a disaster that all agree will be cataclysmic but no one seems able to avert.