I admit it: I am a fan of late-night comedian/political host Jon Stewart and his Daily Show. So, it was with great interest that I followed his “Rally to Restore Sanity” last weekend in Washington, DC.
While Stewart is definitely to the left of center, he has an anti-establishment streak that I enjoy. He gave an interesting speech at the end of last weekend’s rally that I think sums up Stewart’s frustrations — and those of many on both sides of the political spectrum in this country — over the lack of civility in the political discourse.
While I agree with most of what Stewart says, he (and most on the left) fail to understand that one of the big reasons for the lack of civility is that the use of government force to take over health care or control the economy (through cap and trade), and the generally-expanding role of the federal government is bound to generate increased hostility. After all, no person or group of persons can make decisions for 300 million other people that makes everyone happy. That doesn’t even take into account the reality that frustration increases when some are forced to pay the bills for others.
That is why the Founders emphasized both voluntary interaction and federalism. The reality is (as Stewart notes in his speech) that Americans get along extremely well when we interact voluntarily (the double-thank you moment, for example). It is when a distant and isolated federal government must make one-size-fits-all decisions on education, health care, and the economy in general that people start to get frustrated.
Hopefully, the folks in Washington get the message from the voters that Washington is simply incapable of solving our problems and that average people working voluntarily together have always done a better job at this. We’ll see whether they got the message.