SubscribeStar Saturday: The Spirit of 1776

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Disclaimer:  I do not endorse violence as a means to achieving political ends in normal circumstances.  That said, I reject the claim that “violence never solves anything.”  The vast annals of human history suggest the opposite is largely the case—violence has been the resort—sometimes final, sometimes not—to resolve any number of problems.  Our entire political system rests on the implicit use of violent force towards upholding the common good—and protecting those unable to protect themselves.  Jesus Christ died—quite violently!—for our sins, offering us ultimate salvation forever.

Further, our entire nation is founded on a last-resort to violence to secure American liberty:  the American Revolution.  Brave men pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors to secure liberty and to defend their rights.  Over 4000 did make the ultimate sacrifice—and many, many more since then—to win and secure our freedom.  Sometimes some turbulence is necessary—as the Left has told us all of last year as BLM destroyed cities—to secure liberty.

That’s an uncomfortable concept—I don’t necessarily like it, and I am sad to see it has come to that—but it’s the foundation of our Republic.  I sincerely pray for reconciliation and healing, as did John Dickinson prior to the American Revolution, but I am not optimistic given Democratic control of the organs of power.  The storming of the Capitol will be used as a pretext—it already is—to oppress and imprison conservatives.  At such a point, the remaining options begin to vanish.

I am not calling for or advocating violence in any form—but I’m afraid it’s coming nevertheless.  Please pray with me for reconciliation—true reconciliation, not the dictator’s peace of bending the knee to Leftist insanity—and prepare for troubled times ahead.

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Fifty Years of Radical Violence

On the Right, we tend to point to the 1960s as the decade when everything went wrong—the rise of the counterculture, the anti-war movement, the radicalization of campuses.  Or we’ll look back to the Progressive Era of the first two decades of the twentieth century, or the Frankfurt School that introduced “Cultural Marxism” to our universities.  Deep students of ideological infiltration will point to the American infatuation with German Idealists and the German model for higher education.

But in focusing so intensely on the 1960s, we overlook the following decade—the sleazy, variety show-filled 1970s.  Of course, what we think of as the cultural and social upheaval of the 1960s really occurred mostly in early 1970s.  Indeed, I suspect that so much of the romanticizing (on the Left) of the 1960s is because of the Civil Rights Movement, which now holds a place of uncritical holiness in our national mythology.  It probably also has to do with the dominance of early Baby Boomers in media and the culture for so long—they built the counterculture, and they still idealized their youthful misadventures as tenured radicals.

Regardless, good old Milo posted a link on his Telegram feed urging followers to “Read this.”  “This” was a book review, of sorts, of Days of Rage: America’s Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burrough.  In his review of the book, author Brian Z. Hines writes that

Days of Rage is important, because this stuff is forgotten and it shouldn’t be. The 1970s underground wasn’t small. It was hundreds of people becoming urban guerrillas.  Bombing buildings: the Pentagon, the Capitol, courthouses, restaurants, corporations. Robbing banks. Assassinating police. People really thought that revolution was imminent, and thought violence would bring it about.

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TBT: Progressivism and Political Violence II: Candace Owens Attack and the Deficiency of Decorum

About a year ago I wrote about the Leftist attack on Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk while they were attempting to enjoy breakfast.  Last summer, all the rage was for Leftist activists to harass conservatives and Trump administration officials while they were trying to dine.

Fast forward one year and we have conservative journalists getting smashed over their heads with concrete-filled milkshakes and guys in MAGA hats assaulted in the streets.  Nevertheless, the ranks of Conservatism, Inc., stubbornly insist on taking the high road, ruthlessly policing any threats to their Right, while shrugging helplessly—perhaps accompanied by a schoolmarmish finger wagging—as the Left ratchets up its wanton, unabashed violence.

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TBT: Progressivism and Political Violence

It’s another late post today, as my post-New Jersey schedule is still a bit wonky.  I just got done with a twelve-hour stint of uncling, so there was barely time to eat lunch, much less write a blog post—even a quick TBT feature.

Given the recent attacks on conservative journalist Andy Ngo, it seems apropos to dedicate this week’s #TBT to one of my classics of the modern, TPP 3.0 era:  “Progressivism and Political Violence.”  I wrote this essay back in June 2018, and I’ve probably linked to it more than any other post I’ve ever written, because it touches upon so much of the Left’s pathos.

I wrote at the time that, if the Left lost all the arms of the government, they would use extreme violence to accomplish their ends.  That was before I fully appreciated how extensive and pervasive the Deep State truly is—the Left is so entrenched, it can never really be out of power in the current state of play.

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TPP Weekend Update

Readers will know that this week has been pretty insane for TPP, so the quality and length of blog posts have suffered accordingly.  My Internet connection woes, coupled with an unusually hectic work schedule, limited my ability to get posts out by 6:30 AM EST—and I had to write several entries on my phone on public WiFi.

Indeed, I’m writing today’s post amid the hectic South Carolina Junior Classical League Spring Forum, which my little school is hosting this weekend.  I just wrapped up moderating Certamen (proposed team name:  “Certamen Noodles”), which is basically quiz bowl or academic team for Latin nerds (take your average nerd and dollop even more nerdiness on top; one kid in one of the Certamen matches literally “meeped” at random, to give you a mental picture).

There’s been a lot going on this week that I’ve been unable to comment upon, like the college athletic scholarships corruption scandal and the mosque shootings in New Zealand.

The best statement I’ve seen on the latter is from an Australian Senator from Queensland, Fraser Anning, who condemned the violence, but also pointed out that Islam endorses such violence against non-Muslims on a regular basis.  Best line:  “The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader….”  Dang.  Well said, sir.

Fortunately, the Internet is working again at home, after the valiant efforts of a gracious Frontier technician, Harold.  I’m still quite frustrated with Frontier; they told me they had no technicians in the field, but Harold told me he’d been sitting in the local office all day waiting to get dispatched.  This after I’d spent an hour on the phone with a Frontier supervisor demanding answers as to why the company couldn’t keep a four-hour appointment window scheduled a week out.

It turns out that someone in the local office unplugged a jump cable, which caused me to lose Internet.  I literally could have walked 1000 feet around the corner and talked to someone.  Now I’m armed with the general location of the local office (which is just where Frontier technicians maintain the local access point for the town, apparently, and not a true “office”) and Harold’s number, so I can (hopefully) fast-track repairs in the future.

My takeaway:  Frontier still sucks, but their technicians are great.  The whole company is just riddled with incompetence at the customer service level, and they make a lot of unforced errors (like accidentally unplugging my Internet for a week), and they operate in the Stone Ages of cable/Internet provides (a two-year contract, really?).

Enough whining.  Tomorrow we’ll be back with another installment of “Lazy Sunday” (I, II, and III), and then (hopefully) back to more substantive material.

God bless, and Happy Saturday!

–TPP

Northam Non-troversy and Abortion

I’m going to be honest here:  I do not care about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s old yearbook photograph, in which he’s either in blackface or wearing a Klan hood.  I don’t support or endorse doing either of those outfits, but how does a photograph of a goofy costume from over thirty years ago affect the man’s ability to do his job now?  It’s not as though he has a track record of racist remarks that might bias his enforcement of Virginia’s laws against black, Jewish, or Catholic Virginians.

The problem with progressivism is that it eats its own with gusto, as the socially-acceptable behavior of yesteryear becomes the always-forbidden “hate” of today.  It was certainly in poor taste to wear blackface in the 1980s, but, give me a break.  When does the statute of limitations on poor decisions expire?  Are we allowed to never commit a mistake if we want to serve in public office?

What demonstrates how truly evil the Left is is that they don’t care about Northam’s endorsement, just a little over a week ago, of infanticide.  When asked in a radio interview what should be down with a child born alive that the mother initially wanted aborted, Northam replied that the mother and at least two physicians should consult about the baby’s fate while the baby was “kept comfortable.”

Where are the anguished cries about that?  Northam wearing a Klan hood to a beer bash in the 80s didn’t cost any black people their jobs or their lives.  Abortion kills them by the tens of thousands every year.

Pat Buchanan—ever-brilliant, ever-prescient and -insightful—has a piece exploring the implications of the Northam non-troversy that I highly recommend you read.  A representative excerpt:

We are at the beginning of a Kulturkampf to purge America of all monuments and tributes to the white males who created, built and ruled the country, and once believed that they, their nation, their faith, and their civilization were superior to all others. And, without apology, they so acted in the world.

Those two guys drinking beer in blackface and Klan robes and a hood thought they were being funny, but to the unamused members of a radicalized Democratic Party, there is nothing funny about them.

And, after Northam, these intolerant people will demand that the Democratic Party nominate a candidate who will echo their convictions about America’s past.

America will pay for its generations of infanticide if we don’t end it, and soon.  God is just, and delivers His judgment with swiftness and ferocity after long forbearance.  One reason the Philistines were destroyed was because of their worship of Baal, which required sacrificing babies.  Similarly, the Carthaginians were crushed, in part, because of their child sacrifices.

We’re sacrificing babies to the altar of progressive politics and the ethos of “if it feels good, do it—and don’t worry about the consequences.”  I can at least appreciate the hedonist who accepts the bad with the good of his lifestyle—say, the smoker who acknowledges it’s bad for him, but he enjoys doing it anyway.  But what kind of monster snuffs out a human life for convenience?

Northam needn’t resign over a picture.  But he and other Democrats should fall on their knees in repentance over their endorsement of the mass murder of innocents.

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico

Progressivism and Political Violence II: Candace Owens Attack and the Deficiency of Decorum

A small part of me really believed that the insanity of post-election 2016 and pre-and-post-Inaugural 2017, while still simmering at a low boil, had largely shifted back to the fringes, with the real threats to liberty returning to online flame wars and techno-corporate elites deplatforming anyone to the right of Joseph Stalin.  Sure, Antifa—the ironically-named organization of hooded, masked Millennial fascists—is still around, and entitled behemoths still kneel during the National Anthem, but the street-level thuggery seemed to have quieted down.

As with many things in life, I was, unfortunately, wrong.  Candace Owens—the intelligent black conservative who inspired Kanye West’s Twitter lovefest for President Trump earlier this summer—was attacked in Philadelphia by a group of noodle-wristed soy boys and their pansexual, transgender lesbian besties while trying to enjoy a breakfast with Charlie Kirk. the founder of Turning Point USA.

I should have listened to my own analysis—and remembered very recent incidences, like White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s expulsion from a restaurant because her mere presence made gay employees uncomfortable (I know they’re drama queens, but, c’mon—can we stop indulging gay men like they’re fragile children?)—rather than engage in unfounded optimism.

The attack on Owens—who was forced to leave the restaurant because of the disturbance, and who endured cries of “F*ck White Supremacy” (remember, she’s black)—is merely the latest in a long stream of Leftists attacks on the Right.  Some, like yesterday’s deplatforming of Alex Jones and InfoWars—are non-violent, but hurt economically and socially by reducing or eliminating traffic to websites.

What the Left cannot achieve through social or economic coercion—through its dominance of institutions like academia, media, the arts, corporations, etc.—it will gladly do through physical violence (thus the “by any means necessary” mantra so beloved of Communist revolutionaries).  I suspect that a number of seemingly respectable cultural and academic figures on the Left, while publicly tut-tutting their street fighters, secretly thrill at the violent upheaval their radicals-in-arms create.

Indeed, this is no mere speculation.  Remember the television executive who scoffed, after the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting, that most of the victims were probably Republican Trump supporters, anyway?

Aging counterculture revolutionaries—now firmly entrenched in their tenured ivory towers and emeritus seats, forever addicted to the false god of youth—live dreamily, vicariously through the antics of young street “toughs” who emulate the very professoriate that idealizes their destruction.

Now more than ever, the Right must come together.  Remember the meteoric rise and swift fall of Milo Yiannopoulos?  For years, conservatives dreamed of a funny, popular figure who would help break us out of National Review and Weekly Standard stuffiness and show that we don’t hate gay people or minorities (we just hate annoying people in general).  When he finally came, Conservatism Inc. rejected him out-of-hand because he made mean jokes on stage (the same objection, I’m sure you’ve realized, they’ve made about Trump).  Milo can be a little much sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him state a fact that was incorrect.  Hyperbolic in delivery, yes; factually inaccurate, no.

My point is this:  we’ve got to give the decorum thing a rest.  I’m not saying we should go out and diss every non-conservative we ever meet, or to engage in street fights with Antifa (except in self-defense)—we should try to be cordial and peaceful whenever possible—but if the other side is going to punch you while you’re trying to have a rational discussion, then, well, your fists have gotsta do the talking for you.

Again, I am not condoning or attempting to incite anyone to violence.  I’m just saying that we need to back off figures like Trump, Milo, Candace Owens, Gavin McInness, etc., who are making the tough, real sacrifices in this culture war, and who are exposing themselves to real physical danger.  So what if they get a little rhetorically saucy or say something mean but funny?  Decorum has its place, but it seems to be a luxury we can ill-afford at present.

TBT: There is No General Will

Yesterday’s post about the Electoral College—and why the American constitutional system generally eschews raw majoritarianism at the national level—reminded me of an essay I wrote in 2016 about Rousseau’s idea of the “general will.”  It was probably the least popular post of the summer, but it highlights the dangers of succumbing to “mob rule,” a system of radical egalitarian democracy that inevitably results in tyranny and violence.

It was Rousseau’s notion of the general will—and the idea that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains“; therefore, men must be forced to be free—that unleashed the horrors of the French Revolution and, by extension, the destructive, totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.

The essential idea behind Rousseau’s political philosophy is that, in the absence of social constraints, man would be inherently noble—the “noble savage” idea.  As such, society exists as a way to keep the elites ensconced in power.  Whereas Lockean empiricists (that’s pretty much all Americans in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition) argue that property rights are necessary to protect the weak from the strong, and that human nature is inclined toward sinfulness (especially in the absence of law and order), Rousseauean idealists argued that property rights oppress the weak for the benefit of the strong.

Therefore, society needs to be tweaked—legally, socially, culturally, economically, etc.—until the desired outcomes are achieved.  Naturally, the “desired outcomes” shift constantly, as they would inevitably have to under a regime purportedly based on the fickle whims of the people.  Regardless, the Rousseauean view is that man, at bottom, is perfectible, and that changes to external factors will make him truly free.

Thus, we see the never-ending arguments on the Left for adopting this new policy or that new right.  Sometimes, of course, policies need changing, adopting, or repealing, but the Left doesn’t seem to have any end-goal in mind; rather, it marches on a perpetual track of “progress” that, we’re told, will one day immanentize the eschaton and bring paradise on Earth.

The conservative is naturally skeptical of these claims.  Evangelical and traditional Christians understand well man’s “sin nature,” and hard experience has taught us that, in the absence of social and legal order, life would become an orgiastic free-for-all in which the strong oppressed the weak and took what they could.  Believers also understand that paradise on this world is impossible (although that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve our world; it just means that, ultimately, we’re fallen, and only Christ can make us whole—what civilization we do enjoy, and the tolerant form Western civilization has traditionally taken, is a product of Christianity).

(For a related illustration of this phenomenon, consider how much dating and marriage have changed since the advent of the Sexual Revolution, which “freed” men and women of traditional social boundaries regarding sexuality, courtship, and marriage.  Sixty years ago, a relatively meek “beta male” could more or less be assured marriage, as promiscuity was frowned upon and women were encouraged to take one partner; now, an “alpha male”—the “strong” of the Sexual Revolution—cultivates multiple partners, while bookish “betas”—the “weak”—struggle to find mates.)

I always come back to G.K. Chesterton’s fence:  before you tear it down, you need to know why the fence is there.  It may very well serve a useful purpose that, to your eye, might not be immediately apparent (an endorsement for studying history!).  Or it could be useless and in need of discarding.  Either way, do your research first, and be wary of swift, radical changes.

With that, I give you 3 August 2016’s “There is No General Will“:

I’ve been watching the television series Wayward Pines (don’t worry; no spoilers), which raises tons of great questions about how a society–particularly a closed one under duress–should function.  What’s the proper balance between freedom and security?  How much should governing elites reveal to the folks, and what should be concealed?  Should people fulfill specific roles in a society to benefit the greater goals of that society, or should they be free to choose their professions (and, for that matter, their mates, homes, schools, etc.)?

These are interesting and complicated questions.  Indeed, the question of the proper balance between freedom and security has puzzled republics since Periclean Athens.  The question itself is misleading, I would argue—and likely will in a future post—that the two are not mutually exclusive.

“[T]here is no such thing as the general will.”

But I digress.  All of these questions seem to pose a larger one:  what is the “general will” or “greater good” of a society, and how should a society go about pursuing it?  My answer is that there is no such thing as the general will.

Now, to be clear, this statement does not mean that I think there’s no merit in a society pursuing some common goals, or that I deny that sometimes in a majoritarian system there will be policies that some people don’t like, but that are beneficial for society as a whole.  Our whole constitutional system in the United States is carefully balanced to make sure that the “will of the people” is well-represented at the local, State, and national levels, while still guaranteeing and protecting the basic rights of individuals—even when those rights aren’t particularly popular.

But here’s the rub—while our constitutional order protects against the tyranny of the majority, the broad notion—from French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau—of the “general will” acknowledges no such limiting principle against the power of the majorityIt is against this sense that the “will of the people” is the be-all, end-all of social good that I stand.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Philosophical Super Villain.
(Image Sourcehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_(painted_portrait).jpg, portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour)

The people, as a whole, are fickle.  It’s very difficult to get ten people to agree about what to eat for dinner; note how difficult it is for 330 million to agree on even the most basic of issues (in South Carolina, we still haven’t reached any kind of consensus about how to pay for and fix our roads, something virtually everyone wants done).

Even if you can get ten reasonable people to agree to, say, a long-term weekly dining schedule, at some point one or two will start to say, “Well, maybe we could have spaghetti on Wednesday nights instead of tacos.”  Imagine that conversation happening loudly and angrily across fifty States.  It’s a recipe—pardon the pun—for disaster.

Raw majoritarianism—what Rousseau appears to be calling for when he argues that society should be based on the “general will” of the people—is an unworkable scheme on anything but the smallest levels of society.  Rousseau’s chilling dictum that men are “forced to be free” reveals the inevitable consequence of unbridled democracy:  ultimately, the inexpressible “general will” becomes expressed through a demagogic tyrant, or through a legislator uninhibited by any restraints on its law-making authority beyond what the people want.

“[T]he ‘general will’ acknowledges no… limiting principle against the power of the majority.”

I’ve long viewed Rousseau as one of the great villains of modern philosophy, and I would argue that one can draw a more-or-less straight line from Rousseau and the French Revolution through fascism, communism, and totalitarianism, all the way to modern illiberal progressivism.  Rousseau—like modern progressives—believes in the mutability of human will, arguing that laws, not human nature, make people bad or good.  Get the laws right–or tweak the system enough–and you can spit out completely virtuous people.

Thus we see the conceit of the modern Left that no one commits crime out of greed or evil; instead, they’re “victims of circumstance” or subject to “systems of oppression” that cause them to do evil.  If only we created more programs or redistributed more wealth—or, if taken to the logical extreme, if only we did away with private property altogether, since the state and its laws exist to protect it—then, finally, man would be perfect.

Such notions are not only absurd; they are hugely injurious to both individual freedom and the health of society at large.  A virtuous society is one that cultivates a virtuous culture, which is only sustainable if it educates its people to live virtuously, recognizing that there will always be failures because, after all, to err is human.

(Note:  I do acknowledge that sometimes people are driven to commit typically immoral deeds out of necessity; however, I believe our society hugely exaggerates the extent to which such motives drive criminality and wickedness; just ask any wealthy person who’s ever been convicted of shoplifting or embezzlement why they stole, and you’ll quickly realize that even people with plenty of material safety are tempted to sin.)

“Raw majoritarianism… is an unworkable scheme….”

Expecting pure perfection is dangerous and unrealistic.  Mistakes are the inevitable price of freedom.  You can ignore reality for a time and get by with it, but eventually it will catch up.

Rather than idealistically seek after a non-existent “general will,” we should instead govern ourselves—and resist tyranny in the process.  To do so requires decentralization of power (and more local decision-making), a shared understanding of American values, and an education rich in morality, virtue, and philosophy.

(To read more about Rousseau’s thought–and, perhaps, to correct my errors and oversimplifications, read more at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rousseau/.)