Americans are romantics at heart. They are imbued or dominated by idealism. They are infatuated with glamour, the latest trend, and the newest rock star personality. Perhaps a movie star or a sports figure, a hip-hop artist or the latest casual-chic fashions, or the next savior that has ventured on to the political stage.
A country divided along cultural, spiritual, and political lines has created an aura of animosity fueled by media and political vitriol aimed directly at their enemies. We the people are the enemies. The half in power wants to marginalize if not eradicate their enemies. The rallying cry for the other half is “Take Back America”. It has devolved into an epic struggle over power. The power to rule and exercise dominion over others is to subjugate fellow human beings under a single unitary view. A view you may or may not agree with. Make no mistake; a large swath of people will be subjugated if this course is pursued to its logical end.
What the mob wants the mob will get. The mob will get it through their romantic attachment to the latest and greatest politician. Obama is our savior. Vote for Romney because he’s not Obama. The cult-a-personality infatuation with people has resulted in romantic nationalism.
Inherent in peoples’ romantic obsession with nationalism is the complete destruction of individual rights, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nationalism is collectivism clothed in red, white, and blue overtures. The nation, the country, is placed upon a pedestal that towers over everyone and everything. As the people rally around a flag, a pledge, an anthem, or rally around this candidate or that candidate, they lose sight of simple truths. They cannot see the forest through the trees.
The Union was not founded in nationalism; rather it was founded upon certain transcendent and fundamental principles. Indeed, some degree of nationalism was present even during the founding generation; however the cementing of nationalism started with the Hamiltonian types (Hamilton, Wilson, Marshall) and was accelerated by Lincoln. Over the decades other such as Wilson, Roosevelt, and Johnson (to name a few) reinforced the idea of nationalism through government intervention in all economic and personal activities.
An interventionist foreign policy under Wilson, and propagated since then by most presidents, has transmuted the Union into an “international democracy force” under some moral imperative that all people around the world deserve to live like Americans whether they want it or not. And, America is going to give it to them good and hard. Lincoln’s obsession with preserving the Union gave birth to the notion that the government knows what’s best for the people, and by compulsion or force the government will subjugate you according to their judgment. Lincoln’s obsession birthed a “might makes right” mentality. The victim – besides the 650,000 killed – was consent of the governed. The right of self-determination was given a swift burial under Lincoln’s mighty sword.
The rebar for these political agendas is none other than the Supreme Court. The so-called “protector” of the Constitution acts as the enabler to those that wish to further consolidate and concentrate power into the hands of a few hundred people. Once again, the people are enamored by and revere the nine members of the Supreme Court as though they are oracles. Once again the people are cast under the spell of these nine sagacious, impartial, and just politically connected lawyers that have a vested interest in retaining power. Thus, the romance continues as the people subjugate themselves to the personal policy preferences and penumbras of other people. The people sacrifice their freedom and liberty upon the nationalist altar of superiority while being consumed by the latest casual-chic fashion or latest reality show.
These rallying calls to “take back America” or “we’ll through the bums out next election”, or “restore America’s mission” miss the point. Federalism and republicanism are the answers. But, those on both sides of the political aisle are romantically attached to the idea of nationalism.
Federalism and republicanism are superior because they embrace consent of the governed – the right of self-determination and self-governance. They are superior because the people, in smallish communities determine the laws they live under. They are superior because individual rights are secured and protected rather than decided on by one person on the Supreme Court. They are superior because they decentralize power. They are superior as hundreds or thousands of states offer choices to individuals instead of living under a unitary, monolithic government. They are superior because it is the only system where self-directed and autonomous people can live without the daily grind of coercive and intrusive government.
The romance with nationalism is fatal. It’s not unlike a relationship with two people. Any relationship has but two possible outcomes; it eventually ends or someone dies (think about it). The Union will either end or a lot of people will die to ensure its survival. The Union will end if the people can exercise their right of self-determination, secede, and re-form their political societies. Or, just as Lincoln ensured 650,000 people died, there may be a time when the government kills millions more to the detriment of the “consent of the governed”.