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Federalism: Let’s build something together

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As a political writer and opinion columnist, I swim in an ocean of criticism.

The outrage culture we’ve built over the last 20 years — for which Sean Hannity and Trevor Noah bear equal blame — has degenerated healthy debate into insults, shouts, jeers, slurs, and just so, so much anger.

It’s not that we argue too much — I actually wish Americans argued more—and better — but we do sometimes fall into a rut of criticism that we’re unwilling to climb out of.

See, argument is a structured discussion used to discern the truth of a proposition, and if we had more arguments we would have less outrage, shouting, and street fights. The lack of actual argument has left us unable to discern and defend truth, which is why we spend so much time screaming our baseless opinions at others, and getting offended when others scream theirs at us.

It’s an untenable situation, and one that will likely resolve itself as soon as people start caring more about what’s true than what’s polite.

Like argument, there’s an appropriate place for criticism and even condemnation. Law enforcement officers who abuse their power should be criticized. Alt-right “race realists” intent on rekindling 1930s ethnofascism should be condemned, along with their violent, pro-censorship Antifa counterparts on the Left.

Criticism is meant to pressure, to challenge, to motivate toward something higher. Condemnation is meant to isolate something harmful, letting others know to stay away for their own good and the good of society.

But the problem we face is that both of these important tools are habitually abused.

Criticism isn’t meted out reasonably in hopes of modifying behavior, it is piled on everyone as a way to elevate the one offering the critique. Condemnation isn’t reserved for the truly heinous among us, it is slopped on indiscriminately like mayo on a McChicken.

Convinced of the impossibility of maintaining standards, we hitch our wagons to the slogan “nobody’s perfect” and seek equality around the lowest common denominator, by hanging every mistake around the neck of those who aspire to something higher.

And so doing, our entire generation is missing the opportunities laid right in front of us:

Build something. Create something. Improve something.

Innovate.

Engage.

Learn.

Grow.

Unite.

Before I get too close to sounding like an inspirational poster, I need to narrow the scope of what I’m talking about. Let’s strip away the layers of presuppositions that have built up over the years, and address the things we all care about — most of which have nothing to do with the issues that fill the headlines any given day.

One of the more insidious side-effects of the two-party system is that it has turned everything in the world into zeroes and ones. We know how we’re supposed to think about different things, based on who we identify with.

Republicans in New Hampshire are supposed to obsess over illegal immigration — even though they’re 2000 miles from the southern border — because, well, they’re Republicans.

California Democrats feel compelled to take a position against North Carolina’s bathroom segregation, despite the fact that it has no impact whatsoever on their state.

We square off against each other on social media, fishing for clues to confirm what column the other person belongs in, rather than judging whether their arguments are valid.

Less than halfway through this column, odds are you’ve already scoped out my profile, followed a couple links, and browsed the comments or my prior articles to decide whether you should share this or mock it.

We all do. It’s the norm now. And it’s cynical and destructive.

Partisanship and identity politics are tearing the nation apart, and the only people who benefit from it are those who receive the blind loyalty it creates.

But many articles have been written on the problem — it’s time to address solutions — and that’s where things get sticky.

On one hand there’s no silver bullet solution to “making America great again”, and anybody pitching one is usually out to make a buck. Red and blue America learned to resent each other decades ago; it’s not going to be undone overnight.

On the other hand, it’s lazy and intellectually irresponsible to suggest that we continue doing what we’re doing, and just accept the fact that left and right will always hate each other, battle in the street, and post gory imagesof severed heads in place of civil dialogue.

Given current trends, we can’t continue, even if we wanted to. Normal, reasonable Americans are abandoning both major parties at either an alarming or encouraging rate, depending on your perspective. “Independent” continues to rule the national party affiliation race by a wide margin, and third party presidential voting rose 300% from 2008 to 2012, and 800% from 2008 to 2016, despite some of the worst third party candidates in recent memory.

So the question we face isn’t whether the political landscape in the US will change, but rather what it will change to: a perpetual battlefield between increasingly partisan extremes, or an open marketplace of political ideals offered representation within competing jurisdictions — an appified version of government that fits with where culture and technology have already been for years.

The answer was baked into the country by the radical progressives (of their day) who founded it — Federalism.

Federalism has a way of relieving all kinds of tension and returning relationships to normal by developing and maintaining separate spheres of influence. This works with government just as it does for business or even family — who doesn’t have a better relationship with their parents after moving out?

Obviously there are a few things that the whole country needs to agree on in order to maintain a united identity and share the same space, but we shouldn’t have to agree on everything. For a culture that emphasizes diversity, we seem incredibly hostile to the idea that people in different regions should be allowed to have different lifestyles and priorities.

The trend in American politics over the last few decades has been to nationalize every single dispute, either through Congress, executive order, or — most often — the Supreme Court. Every special interest group seeks to wield the Federal government like a cudgel against their political opposition, and so doing, establishes the precedent for the other side to beat them with it given the first electoral opportunity.

Aside from being incredibly uncharitable and narrow-minded, this form of governance is backward, inefficient, and, well, stupid.

It creates redundancies at every level of government, as federal departments conflict with state departments, which in turn conflict with city and county policies established in the interests of folks in those locales. It fails to balance the different views of people in different places with different jobs, lifestyles, and priorities.

Many have written on what I believe to be the most important divide in America today — the rural/urban divide — but few have put forward any ideas to deal with the divergent subcultures.

It’s a real problem, and one extremely evident in my home state of Iowa. Our century-old farm culture is often at odds with the growing segment of the population living in the cities and taking service jobs. The Republican-controlled state legislature has declared war on blue-leaning city governments around the state, using preemption laws to block those cities from instituting policies that conflict with their own.

Over the last eight years, red America encountered a similar problem, and states fought tooth and nail to nullify President Obama’s far-reaching executive initiatives on immigration, health care, housing, climate change, and more.

This “standardize everything” mentality causes gears to grind between each level of the government machine, and ultimately you end up with multi-tiered bureaucracy that is bulky, unresponsive, and useless to most people who are more interested in building a new deck and taking a second job as an Uber driver than arguing the merits of traditional marriage or the war on terror.

What’s really interesting about this stubborn trend in American government is that it stands in stark opposition to pretty much every other cultural trend. Millennials have embraced small businesses over global corporations, customization over comprehensiveness, and individuality over uniformity.

We reshape the world with technology, defying convention and challenging time-honored societal institutions with innovative new concepts. We seek the compartmental, the object-oriented, the personalized, the individual, in everything we do.

Except government.

When it comes to the political system, most Americans — millennials included — are still content to let partisanship guide the system, and pretend to enjoy the biannual knock-down-drag-out that leaves the same two groups of people in charge of our everyday lives.

We have a million different options on our cell phones covering everything from food and fitness to business and entertainment, but when it comes to government, we have only two options — and pretty much every data set you’ll find suggests that few people are excited about either of them.

What if we applied the lessons we’ve learned in every other area of society to government for a change?

What if we increased choice by allowing more parties to develop and challenge the big two?

What if we modernized our electoral system to eliminate gerrymandering, and increase access and transparency for average people looking to make an impact on their government without having to take up activism as a full-time job?

What if you could invest in what you care about through an app in your pocket, rather than by standing in the freezing cold collecting petition signatures?

What if we created an object-oriented system of government that allowed your city or state to reflect the things that are important to you, without asking permission from Washington first?

What if the appetite for Federalism both on the Left and the Right brought us back to a place where we could agree to disagree again?

What if we actually believed in ourselves, and in our ability to break out of the two party shell and build something together?

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Doug Olson

    August 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Excellent article

  2. Eric Dixon

    August 8, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I was wondering just how bad those third party candidates were, and why I didn’t remember any of them. Then I clicked on the link.

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Culture and Religion

The complete fraud that is socialism

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The complete fraud that is socialism

Once again we are witness to the age-old scam of socialism with Leftists making promises to attain power that can never be fulfilled.

Long before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago exposed the systematic oppression, torture, incarceration and deliberate mass murder that are the hallmarks of socialistic slavery. James A. Michener documented the 1956 Hungarian uprising against communism in his book ‘The Bridge at Andau’. While both are great literary works, ‘The Bridge at Andau’ laid bare the complete fraud that is the collectivist ideologies in creating a ‘Heaven on Earth’ or ‘worker’s paradise’ that never comes to fruition.

The selling of socialistic slavery to a new generation tends to follow a certain type of ‘progress’. Promises are made for all kinds of largess ranging from Free Healthcare, Free Housing, Free College, Free food to even Free income. All paid for with other people’s money. Never mind that It’s impossible to fulfill all of these wondrous asseverations. Appearances must be made to at least begin the process, so the ever-present task of wealth redistribution begins at the point of a gun.

This is also why the Socialist-Left obsesses over gun confiscation and the suppression of free speech. It is imperative for the Leftists to disarm the people since they generally object to having their property stolen from them. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves, this is to document how this exploitation of the people has ‘progressed’ in other collectivist enclaves to better understand how this crime against the people is perpetrated.

Why do collectivist regimes always require secret police apparatus and the suppression of Liberty?

This question was detailed in The Bridge at Andau in the chapters on the ‘AVO man’. In which he discusses the secret police organisation of the Hungarian Communists, the AVO (Allamvedelmi Osztaly). He bluntly asked and answered the question:

Why must communism depend on such dregs of society?

No matter on what elevated plane communism begins its program of total dictatorship. it sooner or later runs into such economic and social problems that some strong-arm force is required to keep the civil population under control.

As is the case now as it was then, a nation’s Socialist-Left will promise just about anything to attain power over the people:

When communism is wooing the workers in Csepel, all kinds of exaggerated promises are made if they seem likely to awaken men’s aspirations and their cupidity. These promises are couched in such simple terms and such effective symbols that they become immediate goals of the revolution.

Review briefly what communist agitators had once promised the Hungarians who appear in this book: consumer goods such as they had never known before, increased wages. increased social benefits, shorter hours of work, improved education for everyone, a greater social freedom, and a government directly responsible to the working classes. Under communism such promises were never even remotely capable of attainment.

[Our Emphasis]
If all of that sounds eerily familiar, it’s because that’s part of a very old song and dance that has deceived many a generation into enslaving themselves under socialism. Consider this recent story from the Associated Press:

Democrats lurch left on top policies as 2020 primary begins

NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential contender Julian Castro launched his campaign by pledging support for “Medicare for All,” free universal preschool, a large public investment in renewable energy and two years of free college for all Americans.
….

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is expected to launch his presidential campaign soon, has sponsored legislation to create a federal jobs guarantee program in several communities across America.

The pilot program… could ultimately transform the U.S. labor market by providing well-paid government employment with benefits for anyone who wants it.

[Our Emphasis]

As Margaret Thatcher so aptly surmised, eventually they will run out of other people’s money. In our case in the states, that is already the situation given the enormous debt and unfunded liabilities reaching into the stratosphere of trillions of dollars. Of course, this hasn’t deterred committed collectivists such as Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio who recently stated that ‘There’s plenty of money in the world… It’s just in the wrong hands!’ Never mind that it is morally wrong to steal the property of others or that once a society turns down the dead-end of socialism there will always be more people wanting more money from those who have it.

Wealth redistribution scams will always wreck the economy. A socialist regime that nationalizes the economy can never function better than one of economic Liberty. Soon enough everything breaks down, the people see through the lies and the government has to start breaking heads. Thus it is imperative that they have previously confiscated the people’s guns and made it illegal to defend themselves.

The Takeaway

Socialistic schemes always run contrary to basic human nature. Rewarding someone for not working will always result in less work. Conversely, punishing someone for working will also result in less work.

This basic logic of human nature seems to be lost on Leftists. But perhaps it is not. They have to know their schemes have never and will never work. And yet they still try to impose them on everyone else. Perhaps they know of the epic fraud they are continually perpetrating on society, but they don’t care. That will be the subject of our next installment.


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Foreign Affairs

As Venezuela implodes, Trump administration recognizes Juan Guaidó as President

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As Venezuela implodes Trump administration recognizes Juan Guaid as President

The destruction of Venezuela by socialism and corruption is practically complete, but hope is on the horizon. A new President has been recognized by the United States, making Nicolas Maduro’s presidency nearly finished.

Juan Guaidó has been serving as the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela since earlier this month and assumed the role of interim President earlier today. The United States joins Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, and Puerto Rico in recognizing his claim as legitimate.

People have filled the streets of Caracas in an amazing display of solidarity against Maduro, who held an “inauguration” on January 11 despite clear indicators the May 2018 elections were rigged. Now, the streets of Caracas are full.

President Trump confirmed the move following multiple news outlets quoting White House officials.

Ironically, Guaidó’s rallying cry happens to be “Sí, se puede!”, Spanish for “Yes we can.”

My Take

This is the only viable move given the circumstances. As I posted on Facebook:

It may not be possible for Guaidó to turn around the failing nation without a lot of outside assistance, but one thing is certain: Maduro had zero chance of making anything better for his starving people.


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News

Four Republicans Senators ask the President to transfer ISIS prisoners in Syria

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Four Republicans Senators ask the President to transfer ISIS prisoners in Syria

As the United States military prepares for a full withdrawal from Syria, some are concerned that Islamic State fighters currently being held by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will be released or others be allowed to rejoin ISIS. Four Republican stalwarts in the Senate are calling on President Trump transfer the worst of these prisoners to Guantanamo Bay.

Senators Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio all signed the letter to the President requesting this action.

The President announced the move to pull out of Syria on Twitter last month following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This prompted the resignation of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and drew condemnation from people on the left and right who felt the President was abandoning our allies in the war against ISIS.

Turkey has long wanted the United States out of Syria so they could deal with the Kurdish forces that they consider to be terrorists.

My Take

This is a smart move to do before the withdrawal, but this letter was also a not-so-subtle reminder to the President that pulling out of Syria quickly will have repercussions. Both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have tempered the President’s remarks by saying the United States will pull out just as soon as ISIS is fully defeated.

One thing is certain: if these terrorists and militants are not moved to Guantanamo Bay, many if not all of them will eventually return to the Islamic State to continue their mission against the the rest of the world.


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