When you publish a political site, especially one where all views are heard, you’re right at the ramparts of what divides us politically. I’m tortured by questions:
What’s the cause of our polarization in America? What explains how far we’ve drifted apart? What really divides Red from Blue?
It all comes down to a couple of principles. First, America’s Founders believed strongly in the individual’s importance, and his or her God given right to liberty and the chance to pursue his or her own version of human happiness free of the oppression of the majority.
Next, they derived the view, based on the power of the individual, that the government gets its consent from the governed.
“Ho hum” you say?
No, this was a radical departure for humanity, not some fad. It’s what America is about and why so many want to come to our shores. It’s why it’s hard to explain the Second Amendment to my friends in the U.K. and Europe.
We have guns not becauseour government gives us permission, but because the government is not allowedto take them. In fact, it’s to prevent the government from oppressing the people.
The division comes when some would simply give up the right to own guns and do it by government fiat, not realizing that giving up individual rights is a step toward the tyranny government our Founders warned us against in the first place.
On the other hand, many people do not want their guns taken away because they believe in these founding principles.
You see the problem, right?
It’s one of the reasons that the Constitution provides the ability to make amendments to itself, but makes it so damned hard to do so. We have a prescribed process for changing sacred stuff because the document itself is unique among nations.
The second reason we’re divided is derived from the “who’s in charge” principle discussed above. The Founders believed in a limited national government because they sensed that a large government would limit freedom of the individual and reverse the power in favor of government. If that happens, can tyranny be far behind? C’mon Liberals and lazy history students, there’s a reason America is different from Europe. Our roots are about lessnational government because state and local government is much closer to the people who are the one’s who are supposed to be in charge.
However, the world and time marches on and we are now a nation of 325 million people and there’s been a “power creep” toward the power of federal government for many years. I mean, there was no Federal Income Tax until 1913! Then, The New Deal, World War II, The Cold War, and man, has our government grown.
It’s also become fashionable in liberal academia and the media to spend far more time and words that emphasize our differences and not what we have in common, including our founding principles.
So we’ve come to an impasse and in frustration, we’ve grown angrily apart.
What can we do?
First, we could start by recognizing that there are more beliefs that bind us together than those that drive us apart and we should start getting back to the “melting pot” and stop talking about the “mosaic,” which though well intentioned, is all about our diversity and not about shared American beliefs.
Next, we could start doing a little horse-trading versus the all or nothing approach so commonly used when looking at political issues and problem solving.
Here’s an example of the kind of thinking that it will take to close our political divide, and let’s use the health care as an example. As a Conservative, I now concede that universal health care is perceived by many to be a right. The proverbial horse is out of the barn on this issue.
Furthermore, there are simply some people who cannot take care of themselves no matter how empowered they are. No matter how utopian some future competitive health insurance market is, some folks will never find a way to make it work for them.
However Liberals, how do we pay for this “right?” It’s impossibly expensive. And my god, the bureaucracy …so here’s my challenge to you: What are YOU willing to give up?
Here’s an easy one, can we get rid of the Federal Department of Education? I mean all 50 states have one and isn’t it better dealt with at a local level? Can we find a way to use private companies to do some work in administering a health care system? Could we find other ways to reduce the national government? Could we agree on a few good departments and reduce or eliminate others?
You see where I’m going with this? Why can’t we sacrifice some of our sacred political cows for the sake of a few things we really want? At the same time, we’d be acknowledging that our political opponents might have a point. Maybe we could just pick the importantbattles.
And maybe we could agree to default back to on our Founding Principles, remember how special our constitutional heritage is, and embrace our commonality.
Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm.