2017 has shown us a continuation of the political vitriol that all of us middle-aged fogeys have seen escalating steadily throughout much of our adult lives. In just the past several days we have read about a politician bodyslamming a reporter, members of the Texas Legislature nearly coming to blows on the chamber floor and the Mayor of Portland-Oregon asking that a Free Speech rally be denied a permit because of the possibility of violence. This comes hard on the heels of violence earlier this year in places like Berkley-California (pictured), Boston-Massachusetts and the aforementioned Portland. And that is to say nothing of the spectacles we saw during last year’s Presidential election.
The rate at which we are becoming separated into tribes and becoming increasingly more likely to view political opponents as enemies is directly proportional to the amount of control Government has in our day-to-day lives. In just a couple of generations we have seen an already-overbearing federal government morph into a Leviathan— a great destroyer like Moby Dick. There are now precious few aspects of our life where the federal government has no say. In our zeal to use this great instrument to address the needs of those truly IN need, we have snagged everyone’s legs in the safety net we meant to provide for others. With an entity that now governs so much of our day-to-day lives, it is completely understandable why so many people would feel a more urgent need to have control of that entity.
On Reason.Com today, author J.D. Tucille penned an excellent piece that summed up my (and many other’s) frustration in recent decades. He correctly opines that since Government’s control of our lives has now seeped into the nooks and crannies of our everyday existence, it is natural that people feel a more vested personal interest in what the Government is doing. When Government is doing wrong in their view, its no longer just about trade policy and other things most of us never see or care about—it’s about US! In short, we take it personally—and a strongly-worded letter to the Editor no longer suffices to express our disagreement. “Forget Morlocks and Eloi,” Tucille writes, “We’re breeding Reds and Blues.”
This acrimony has risen also in direct proportion to the degree with which we can now use government to punish those with whom we disagree. Once upon a time if Government was doing something you did not like, you lobbied to have that practice ended and that would be fine. That is no longer enough. We must use Government to turn the table against our “enemies.” As a result, we have lost the ability to see policy at face value. It now must be pushed through the “Filter of Me.” Tucille writes:
Is that proposed gun control law a public safety effort or a screw-you to conservatives? Does that bathroom bill represent real concerns about child-predation or a legislative middle finger to liberals?
Let’s face it. When the Government attempts to insert itself into something as large and intensely-personal as our Health Care, we MUST get involved. It is not hyperbole to conclude that Government policies in such an arena WILL have an impact on your and your family. You would be foolish to ignore it. Same goes for several other areas where Government calls the shots.
The only logical solution is to remove Government from the equation as much as we possibly can. The less authority government has over us, the less likely we are to start a riot over proposed policy changes. If an election is less likely to have a crucial impact on our well-being, the less likely WE are to demonize those who think differently.
I am not an anarchist. I realize that in a nation of 330 million people—a nation that is the world’s only real superpower, *some* form of central government has to exist. I get it. But we have turned this necessary evil into a winner-takes-all contest that prompts us to measure success in terms of wins and losses for our team; rather than devising a system that goes the most good for the most people. Tucille summed it up nicely:
If we want to bring political life and discourse in the United States back from the boiling point, we have to make politics less important. When politics and policy matter less, the silly opinions of other Americans, or the rough conduct of a politician, will be far less likely to set us against each other in the streets.
Of course, now we have to agree the manner in which government would be made smaller and less important. I’m not confident we have it in us.