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The best way to heal America is to remember how to leave each other alone

Conservative Review

In the wake of last week’s mail-bomb package scare and Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, America once again finds itself in a conversation about the relationship between political rhetoric and political violence. But unless we deal with the deeper illness in American politics, we’re just finding ways to treat a symptom rather than cure our national disease.

Directly blaming politicians who have not called for violence is a losing game. Evil and insanity are as old as our human nature. He who points the finger this time will face it the next time some dirtbag with the wrong political leanings does something despicable.

There are a thousand calls out there to learn how to bridge the ideological gap, to be good neighbors again, to tone down the rhetoric, to stop demonizing people and confront their ideas instead. These are good prescriptions, but they treat the symptom rather than the disease.

The remedy? We have to learn how to leave each other the hell alone again.

The root of our problem is that our national elections are far too consequential. There’s far too much happening in the festering political swamp of Washington D.C. that affects far too much of our day-to-day lives, and the fight to control the outcome takes up far too much oxygen in our national public square.

It was difficult enough for the framers of the Constitution to craft a durable, functioning model of national government when there were 13 ratifying states and when the political ideologies at play were far less different and opposed to each other than they are now. But federalism exists because while there are a few things like defense and currency regulation that need to be done as one country, there are many more aspects of government that are best handled by those closest to them. Voters in Texas are going to make different political decisions from those in California or New York. In a healthy system, this is expected.

(I explain this in greater detail in the video below.)

In an unhealthy and overly centralized system of government with control of an unwieldy Washington behemoth at stake, however, the political friction between the contrasting demands of diverse populations will eventually build up, and things will eventually overheat. When things overheat, they tend to become volatile.

The best way to cool things off is to remember how to leave each other alone.

Yes, we need to learn how to engage with neighbors outside our social and political comfort zones. But one cannot have a truly productive conversation with his neighbor if, during the entire conversation, his mind is fixed on how his neighbor might try to encroach upon his territory.

“Good fences make good neighbors,” and in the American experience, the fences that are supposed to separate what we as citizens do at the local, state, and federal levels have fallen into complete disrepair or have been outright demolished. For the sake of our republic’s future, we need to take a step back and rebuild them.

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