“The idea that [civility and decency]… are what’s holding social conservatives back from ‘victory’ in the culture war strikes me as one of the most preposterous claims to be taken seriously by intelligent conservatives in recent memory.”
Goldberg takes a long while to get to the point (forgivable, since it’s a farewell column), but when he does, it’s a point I agree with:
“[The solution to the problems facing our country] isn’t to get the best right-wing technocrats to run the economy and the culture. It’s to deny the state the power to run either. Send power back to the communities where people live [emphasis added]. If North Dakota wants to be a theocracy, that’s fine by me as long as the Bill of Rights is respected. If California wants to turn itself into Caligula’s court, I’ll criticize it, but go for it.
“The enemy here is the state, because by aggrandizing to itself the power to tell people how to live, people put all of the blame on a far-off government in Washington — or even more distant ‘globalists’ — for their problems. Federalism, part of the forgotten portions of the Bill of Rights, is the only system that lets the most people live the way they want to live, in communities they have power to influence and direct. In a real community, there are no faceless ‘powers that be.’ There’s Phil and Sarah, or even Mom and Dad.
“And the glorious thing about this kind of pluralism — i.e., for communities, not just individuals — is that if the community you’re living in isn’t conducive to your notion of happiness or virtue, you can move somewhere that is. We want more institutions that give us a sense of meaning and belonging, not a state that promises to deliver all of it for you.”
This is (as Goldberg points out) precisely the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, with which I also agree: the principle that things should be done by the smallest and most local group / organization / entity that is capable of doing them.
“Keep it local,” in other words. Respect difference and distinctiveness. Celebrate real diversity, not the ersatz, politically-defined version (actually identicality and sameness) I have often written against here. Allow people – no, not “allow,” recognize and embrace people’s right to – true self-expression, and self-determination… even if it’s not politically correct. Maybe especially if it’s not!
Goldberg is square on when he notes that
“It’s a cliché to say that nationalism’s resurgence is a response to globalization. Obviously, there’s truth to that. Less discussed is the fact that American nationalism — both on the right and the left — is a response to, well, nationalization.”
In other words, we have forgotten federalism, as expressed perhaps most precisely and succinctly in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the last right enumerated (not granted: recall that we are “endowed by our Creator” – not the government! – “with certain inalienable rights”) by the Bill of Rights:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
We have lost sight of that, in our march “from sea to shining sea,” and the creation of an American empire (though without the name), and it is to our very great detriment!
We need to get it back.