As a young boy growing up in Lebanon I have vivid memories of driving around in my Dad’s Dodge Dart hanging political poster on ever flat surface we can find.
I remember the canvasing and get out the vote efforts with men huddled around our dining room counting potential vote and trying to make sure every neighbor is accounted for.
In the 60s, Lebanon’s elections were consequential. Everyone fretted about them, everyone fought over them. People pushed the limits, they argued, they fought, and, yes, they cheated and bought votes. They did what they needed to do, for the outcome was too important to leave to chance.
The saga ended in a decade-long civil war.
Then I came to America, and heard people complain about voter turnout and voter involvement. I remember telling someone in ‘84: Thank you lucky star. Low voter involvement means that you don’t have large issues to deal with. They laughed at me, I think.
Thirty years later we face a stark choice and a consequential election, people are arguing, fighting, and accusing each other of cheating and buying votes.
America isn’t Lebanon and this will end well. Of that I’m sure.
What has changed in 30 years?
For the last few decades we’ve had the perverse tendency to try to solve every problem at the Federal level. From abortion to religious freedom to industrial policy we’ve moved all out problems up the chain.
This mean that every solution the Feds come up with make 160 million people happy, and piss off 140 million. So we argue constantly.
The genius of the Founding Fathers and our constitution is the absolute diffusion of power and enough checks and balances to have the BBC think America “Ungovernable”.
The right solution is push the problems down to the state & local level. West Virginian don’t need the same firearm rules as New Yorkers.
So let’s stop arguing and go back to our roots: limited government, enumerated powers, local control. Otherwise, this won’t end well.