The Liberal Solution
By Pierre Lemieux
American voters (those who, in the electorate, actually vote) are split into two halves, each of which hates the other and wants to impose its preferences and values on others (assuming that each half is homogeneous). A Twitter follower of mine suggested that breaking up the country into smaller pieces may be a solution.
It would still not be possible to gerrymander the country into homogeneous parts except with a very large number of pieces. I replied (in not perfect English) with another solution:
The other solution is to shrink the federal government to the point where it doesn’t matter much who is elected–except that voters keep the option of kicking out any elected ruler who turns [out] to be a liar and fraudster (or a dangerous ignorant).
This is the (classical) liberal solution, which a three-century-old tradition has been after, from John Locke to Adam Smith, from David Hume to James Buchanan–not to forget Jean-Baptiste Say and many others. At the extreme margin of this tradition, we even find some anarchists–witness Anthony de Jasay’s “capitalist state” or Robert Nozick’s “minimal state.” In some sense, the liberal tradition would split America into 330,000,000 pieces each made of one free individual (including children, who are sovereign-to-be persons). Live and let live.
A solution somewhere on this liberal continuum is not easy to reach, as the past three centuries demonstrate. But the alternative equilibrium, tyranny, is not exactly endearing.
My Twitter correspondent seemed to agree. He finally tweeted:
We learn to leave each other alone.” <–sounds like a plan!