The One Simple Answer to Division and Strife in America?

think locally, act locally, brion mcclanahan, libertarian, community, localismFor years we’ve been indoctrinated into thinking that BIG is beautiful. You know, BIG houses, BIG schools, BIG spending and BIG government. But can small be beautiful too? For instance, I recently was talking to several Millennial-aged guys about the intense division and violence between diverse communities in the not-so-United States. As we talked, the thought was mentioned that it really didn’t make sense for millions of people to expect adequate representation based on the way things are currently being done. Case in point: There’s a lot of people out there who seem to hunger for a little taste of the power represented by crony capitalists, special interest groups and political bureaucrats in Washington D.C. And unfortunately for the rest of us, these various people groups are trying to secure that power for themselves – regardless of whether their neighbors in another community don’t really want to live that way. Which leads to…yeah, you guessed it: a big stinking mess.

But you know, there’s a surprisingly easy solution to all this. It’s just that for whatever reason, we’ve been trained to think that the very American ideal of liberty and self determination is somehow associated with death, destruction and the end of all civilization as we know it – which is really pretty silly when you think about. For example, in the November 9, 2017 edition of the Brion McClanahan Show (Episode 126: Human Scale), Dr. McClanahan talks about Kirkpatrick Sale, a leading authority on the discussion and study of size and scale in government. His 1980 book “Human Scale” is, in many respects, the basis of the “Think locally, act locally” message.

“One of the first podcasts I did was an episode entitled Small is Beautiful,” McClanahan notes. “So I’ve done several of these types of episodes. And in that particular podcast, I focused on the idea of the size of a state in terms of representative government. I got into this representative ratio situation we have in America that’s way out of whack, where we have in the Constitution where George Washington and the Founding Generation thought that 30,000 to 1 was a good representative ratio for Republican Government. And now we’re sitting at 750,000 (or close to that) to 1. And so we really don’t have Representative Government, but we do have that at the State and Local level.”

Dr. McClanahan continues, “For example, African Americans are much better represented at the state level than they are at the general government. So there are several reasons why when we start talking about these particular issues where it seems that real federalism, decentralization, is a preferable path for American citizens. But people just don’t seem to get it, because they think the only government we have is in Washington D.C., the only elections we should vote in are in Washington D.C., and that somehow we really have a republican form of government.”

“If you think about the United States, it’s a huge territory. From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, it has 320 million people. The state of Alabama has as many people in it now as the entire United States had in 1790…So we’ve got a situation where the United States has gotten so much larger than the Founding generation ever conceptualized. Even at the height of the Roman Empire there were only a 100 million people in it. And that was considered to be a mega empire…so it’s amazing how our conceptualization of size and scale has changed. And we seem to think only these mega-States can provide any security, any economic well-being.”

Kirkpatrick Sale, Human ScaleDr. McClanahan then discussed how Kirkpatrick Sale does a nice job pointing out how maybe mega-States aren’t necessarily needed. Of all the world’s political entities, there are around 223 of them. Counting the smallest independent islands, 45 or so are below 250,000 people. Around 67 have below 1 million people, and roughly half have below 5 million…so think about that. The majority of the States in the world are small states: the size of the state of Alabama. Half of the countries in the world are that size, yet they’re economically viable…the example of Iceland, with the world’s oldest Parliament, in an unquestioned beacon of democracy, suggests that 319,000 people is all you would need. Going up a bit in size, there are another six models of good governance below 5 million: Singapore, Norway, Costa Rica, Ireland, New Zealand and Estonia. So here you have prosperous States, states with very good government, States with very vibrant economies. And they aren’t being invaded on a daily basis. And yet they’re small.

Furthermore, just because a community of people like Texas or California may seek to determine their own destinies, doesn’t mean they can’t still be Americans, be proud of who they are, or have great relationships with their neighboring communities. I mean honestly. Why wouldn’t they?

Dr. Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of six books, including his latest, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (Regnery History, 2017). He has written for,,,,, Chronicles Magazine, Townhall Magazine, and Fusion Magazine. McClanahan is also a faculty member at Tom Woods Liberty Classroom, has appeared on dozens of radio talk shows, and has spoken across the Southeast on the Founding Fathers and the founding principles of the United States.

Twice a week on his highly recommended podcast, Brion McClanhan discusses history, politics and culture – but not in the conventional way. He’s covered the constitution, presidents, elections, foreign policy, education, war, pop culture, world history, western civilization, American history, all with the motto of ‘think locally, act locally’. “This is not something you will hear on your mainstream media outlets. This is an empowering message of how you can change your life. We often feel powerless to stop out-of-control government and the monumental changes taking place in American society. But what most people don’t realize is that the local is where all the action takes place. This is how the Founding Generation viewed the world, and why words like federalism and decentralization are the keys to unlocking political peace in the 21st century. Listen to the Brion McClanahan show, and make ‘think locally, act locally’ part of your life.”

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