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The Most Common Denominator

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Observing Independence Day, Cobb calls out the practitioners of identity politics:

I find it difficult to presume to lead some fraction of the people or to defend some fraction of humanity as a worthy political aim. I am greatly convinced that the human animal does not vary so much that he can be served well by a wide variety of principles. There are a simple few and the paths towards attaining and defending them are few. But having found those paths, we must find our human center of gravity, each individual conforming at their core, and place that center on those paths.

Rules that apply only to some qualified group are counter to our common humanity. There are too many ways to rearrange ourselves into sets of suffering, and this devolves into a struggle to find the most powerful victimhood rather than a persistent effort to do the basic things all humans have moral duty to pursue. Either we embrace that all men are created equal, or we are doomed to live within the limits of tribalism.

Instead we have put our sex lives and skin colors as our cores and we have made mountains of the discomforts such fetishes have brought us. And in our every personality trait, thinking moderation and conformity itself a sin, we have expanded our appetite for taking our every difference as deep and fundamental. We have monetized the long tail of arcane whim and now ply it as political currency. We passionately attend the details of vegetarianism as if they were matters of war and peace and we run our state treasuries into ruin for the sake of propping up a million subsidies of such trivial import. All such foolishness is done at the peril of our common good because we have determined that our diversity is the most important feature we possess.

Identity politics is the pursuit of difference. Each recognized distinction between people and groups becomes a lever to force them apart. Or a club to subdue the weaker tribes. We ignore essential human equality in favor of attempting to grant everyone some special status.

This is the evidence of a crisis in confidence in our underlying principle. We Americans are invested in a globalist, multicultural hedge against the sort of common sense Thomas Paine had. We pretend that we are of a different strain than he and that our expanse and our eclectic humanity, our advanced sensitivities to the great variety of human experience makes us wiser. The great variety of human experience can all be cruelly ended with a pike through the heart, and the heart in every human lies in the same place. It doesn't matter how much we value what our tongues have tasted or where our feet have trod, our heart remains our core.

So we must resolve to understand and hue to what is essential to our individual humanity and to reassert its common core. We must recognize the minimal yet essential role of government's defense of simple liberty and not attempt to gainsay it by attempting to guarantee too much. We can only be a nation with liberty and justice for all if all are for the nation correctly focused on its principles and not our own differences. When we seek to be too many things as a people we lose sight of the common purpose of nationhood, and we belabor our citizenship with freight it cannot bear; we turn our politics into a fleamarket and dilute society with a million complaints.

Government cannot make us better people. At best, it can only help ensure we are free to improve ourselves. We each must make choices to fulfill our moral agency. The measure of character is how we spend our freedom, not how hard we work limit ourselves.

The most important things in life are as they ever were, and no greater ideas will be invented than liberty. So let that be our focus on this day.