• Jeff Utsch

Simple and Perhaps Only Recipe To De-Escalate In Times of Passion: True Federalism

Maybe there was a day when discussing politics did not involve polarization. Maybe, this is a myth, false nostalgia, a yearning for a day that never was.


Whether that day ever existed, who knows, but one thing is clear: it ain’t here in 2020.

People find ways today to be offended by anything. Voicing opinions on any matter can precipitate vitriolic attacks from strangers, family and friends.  And don’t think you are excused by not speaking-up. Silence, today, may be perceived as taking a loud and definitive stand.

Rhetoric has escalated and this escalation cannot last forever. Either it will morph into violence on a larger scale than we have seen so far, or it will diminish as cooler heads prevail and moderation sets in.  The choice is up to us.

One way to deescalate: surrender.  Wave the white flag, prostrate yourself to the other side.  I do not see this happening.

Another way: win so convincingly that the other side grasps that its time is not now, accepts an election outcome and pushes its agenda in a legal, moral, traditional and more chivalrous way.  I do not see this happening if Donald Trump wins by a substantial margin; but, I could see it if Joe Biden does.

De-escalation might also occur if, somehow, we find common ground on a vision for America.  This, however, will not happen unless we return to a truly Federalist system in which each state controls more of its affairs and, in so doing, diminishes the role of national government.

This live-and-let-live approach, Federalism, didn’t used to be a hypothesis in America because it was reality.

This would be the smartest way to reach reconciliation as a people and a nation. Let us have our differences, yet not force all to capitulate to the tyranny of the majority or the dictates of a Supreme Court.

Let each state attract the individuals that most reflect the policies of that state. This path is not perfect, but it is what the founders envisioned as to how a republic would remain united.  Don’t tell me how to live and I won’t tell you. Yes, there will be differences among the states. That’s the way it was meant to be.

You want abortion in your state, then “Vas y,” feel free. You will be responsible for the blood on your hands but do not push that in my state. You want universal health care in your state? Fine, do it, but do not make me have it in mine.  You want alternative energy to carry out your vision of a “Green New Deal”? Go ahead, but do not make me comply where I live.  You want to allow men to compete with women in your high schools? Do it, but leave me and my state out — and suffer your consequences.

You want to legalize marijuana? Fine, but maybe we do not. You want to teach your kids to hate America and sow bitterness between the races?  Then, self-destruct at your pace but leave me out. You want to let your schools teach false narratives, perpetuate ignorance and a victimization syndrome? You will reap what you sow. You want to defund the police? Wow, it will not take long to see the genius of that.

I could go on.  These issues should be deliberated and determined at the state level, not a national one. If this occurred, these issues would not divide our nation. We could agree to disagree, then live in peace.  We could see how policies play out in states, separately, and adjust as needed rather than insisting that everyone lives as we mandate.

Handle issues at the local level? De-Escalation follows.

Instead of fighting on these issues, we could focus on policies appropriate at a national level, such as immigration, veterans’ benefits, fiscal policy, trade, foreign relations, foreign wars, the debt, taxation, regulation, manufacturing, economic growth and more.

Let us embrace the fact that our nation was set up as a Federal Republic. That means that powers not delegated to the national government were reserved to the states.  There was wisdom in that decision allowing a nation the flexibility to take in as many people as possible, and whose disparate beliefs, backgrounds, cultures, goals, hopes, and dreams would allow them to pursue happiness as they saw fit.

Let us go back to the ratifiers of the Constitution, the people of the states, and let them decide for themselves the clearly divisive and interminable problems that threaten the union itself.  It is by this means, only, that we can de-escalate the ever-heightening pitch of vitriolic screams that will hasten our own destruction.

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