Your States, Your Cities – The American Conservative
American politics, like American life, is more than DC and the federal government.
That would be another column.
The already three-part federation offers comfortable typography for political actors and reformers. There are people whose theories of politics – that is, theories of power and justice – center on the executive branch with its four-yearly handing over of a diadem to a new little Caesar; others emphasize the balanced scales of priestly judges, Anubis weighs the heart of the law and the pen of progress; Meanwhile, many are still watching the Circus of the Legislature, that fantastic show where backwoods meets boardrooms and Mammon cracks his whip.
This type of taxonomy piece is common enough for the weekly columnist who needs to get his reps and sentences even in a slow news week. Maybe someday I’ll write it, but probably not; after all, now you can write it yourself. Just sort whoever’s factions (the ‘new right’, commentators, Twitter personalities, etc.) into their primary governance: one, two, three.
However, I was sidetracked from that plan by a conversation with someone who works in state politics, and by the realization that the hypothetical column, like so much other parts of our public discourse, takes DC as its standard. But American politics, like American life, is more than the federal government.
The consolidation of mass media in the age of digital technology has increased the rate at which our culture has nationalized and homogenized, and partisan politics is at least no exception, if not the cutting edge on the front lines. Conservatives, who should know better – skeptical in theory and attitude of large-scale social engineering projects and content to preserve things as they were received and long endured – continue not to build where they are if that The roof begins to cave in, so look for DC and an election or a lifetime appointment to save them.
A healthy conservative infrastructure — policy centers, leadership development, or whatever — in a pleasantly red state doesn’t have much benefit, though I certainly don’t advocate complacency (big “philanthropy” isn’t complacent and it’s coming for you). The test is whether Americans on the right–maybe not the Republican Party, I’ll admit, although in some cases it’s the most appropriate tool–are willing to fight for blue states and blue cities. It’s tempting to abandon or literally abandon San Francisco and California to the spiritual desert if the water infrastructure there continues on its current course, but that means leaving a legacy, committing an ungodliness. After being brought back to the Jordanian plain by Abraham and his warriors, Lot needed angels to pull him out of Sodom.
The right, in opposition to the left and its egalitarian uniformity, has committed itself to distinction, to orders of difference and responsibility, and to the true diversity found in places and peoples who live by their laws. Law and order is not a cage from which the citizen must be freed, but the trellis upon which the individual, family, tribe and city can thrive and thrive. Letting weeds overgrow a garden is not returning it to a chainless natural splendor, but wasting good soil, letting fruit rot on the vine, and promoting decay.
On a crowded continent like ours, with no frontier to conquer, fill and build, it’s an admission of neglect to pack up and go. Where there is anarchy and collapse, as there is in so many of our cities, there is opportunity for recovery; The answer to bad government that is unlike any government is not flight. It’s good government. Some will give up and leave, but don’t let it be all.
We must take responsibility where we are and have the strength to carry it. So I ask that if you live in a blue state or city, consider what needs to be done and how you can help. Get action on ballots. Win seats on school boards, city councils, and district commissions. establish schools. volunteers. To organize. Stand up for your House of Representatives. Support your services to the homeless, the good guys trying to transform individuals’ lives, not the charitable complex that has no incentive to make the social ills they profess to go away.
“And seek the peace of the city to which I caused you to be taken captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in their peace you will have peace.” This is what the prophet Jeremiah said to the children of Israel in exile. We are all not really at home on this side of the grave. In my case, Jeremiah’s city, for now, is Washington in the District of Columbia, that other Babylon, and as I find myself trapped here – imprisoned, I admit, for a mixture of high and low motives – I’m also looking for a Beltway kind of Friedens, who is active here in national politics. At this scale, a few things need to happen. But most of you, dear readers, don’t feel kidnapped in the Reich capital. Find the peace of your city.