In one of my favorite podcasts “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, Kevin D. Williamson said something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time but could never quite get out very well. So, of course, Kevin being Kevin, voiced it in a much more succinct and intelligent way than anything I would have come up with. He’s going to write an essay on this at some point, and I can’t wait to read it.
A lot of people, including conservatives, put a big premium and a lot of value on things like unity, on things like having a strong sense of national purpose. I’m not sure I like any of those things. I’m not sure society needs to be unified. I think that we’re a big country with a lot of different kinds of people. There’s a reason we had thirteen different colonies to start with because the puritans up in Boston weren’t very much like the quakers down in Philadelphia. And we’re much more different than we were then. And we don’t need this, you know, magnificence. We don’t need this unity and this sense of grand historical purpose. What we need is a government that basically defends the borders, collects the taxes, adjudicate disputes, keeps the peace, and runs an army to the extent that it needs to. And you don’t need a great national mythology, a great national sense of purpose, a great movement of social unity to get any of that stuff done. — Kevin D. Williamson