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Thomas Jefferson

The American Thinker recently painted a disturbing picture of the American future.  We are embroiled in a Civil War – for now, a cold one, though one that bears many hallmarks of one that eventually could run hot.

And from my perspective as a conservative, the left seems implacably opposed to compromise.  And why shouldn’t it be?  They control most of the institutions that define cultural hegemony:  the mainstream media, the arts, popular entertainment and higher education, not to mention, elements of the so-called Deep State.   As I have argued in this forum many times, a Democratic victory last year would have sealed its victory.

The rancorous divisions in this country have prompted some thoughts about an observation Jefferson offered throughout the post-revolutionary period of American history. He presumed that this continent was too big to encompass one American nation. He expected that settlers, as they spanned across broad American continent, would establish several republics, though all of them would share mutual affinities.

That was not to be.  As it turned out, our forebears essentially hewed a kind of middle way between the ideals of Jefferson and his arch ideological rival, Alexander Hamilton. We have tended to place great emphasis on the Jeffersonian fixation with individual liberties, while tacking more closely to the Hamiltonian ideal of a centralized federal union.

And I wonder: Could the case be made that this push toward centralization has simply prolonged the inevitable? Isn’t it natural for a country this big to develop distinct regional identities, even fissiparous ones? Would we be getting along better on this sprawling continent if we had been allowed to develop several polities, albeit with strong shared mutual affinities?