A solution to political polarization: Rediscovering our individual rights

May 30, 2019 | By TIMOTHY SNOWBALL

Modern Americans are the heirs to the most important philosophic and political revolution in the history of the Western world. The government that arose from that revolution was intended to promote stability and harmony through a carefully calibrated system of checks and balances and respect for individual liberty.

Yet modern partisan and ideological rhetoric can make it seem like that stability and harmony are under siege. You’d have to go back to the Civil War era to find a time when Americans appeared this ideologically divided.

Luckily, there is still far more that unites us than divides us.

No matter our ideology, party, or stance on a specific issue or controversy, both sides of our current political divide share a common goal: To preserve, protect, and defend our rights as Americans. Sometimes we just disagree on the best means to reach these goals.

But disagreement, when respecting the intentions of our opponents, is something to be celebrated, not shunned.

The United States was first and foremost founded as an experiment in individual liberty. Consider some of the issues that sparked the American Revolution against King George III, as Thomas Jefferson laid out in the Declaration of Independence.

Many of these issues are still with us today:

  • The King imposed taxes on the American people without their consent. Every day across the country, people, and businesses are forced to deal with misguided government policies, taxes, and regulations.
  • The King (and Parliament) claimed the power to directly legislate on Americans in all aspects of their lives. This is one of the primary threats of the modern Administrative State. The will of bureaucrats instead of the will of the people.
  • The King set up a whole new bureaucracy to harass Americans and infringe on their property rights. As shown in so many PLF cases, this kind of abuse is still a daily occurrence that we are fighting back against.
  • The King also prevented people accused of crimes from getting a fair shake. But as we know, far too many people still suffer unduly under the modern criminal justice system. This includes overcriminalization, basic due process, and excessive punishments.
  • Finally, much like today, the King seemed deaf to the pleas of the Americans for relief. When a government stops listening to its people, it is time to take action with the courts or in the court of public opinion.

We agree on far more than many think.

The story of America is the continued struggle to protect individual liberty, no matter which side of the political spectrum we come from. We all want to see everyone’s rights protected so that individuals and communities can reach their full potential, and benefit from full participation in our unique American system.

If we can just learn to assume and respect the sincerity of each other’s motives, and recognize the profound areas upon which we agree, maybe we can overcome our apparent differences and unite behind our common principles (and destiny) as Americans.