Three ideas for Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse (R) has handily won his Senate primary in Nebraska. He will bring intelligence and maturity to Washington. Conservatism today bristles with new thinking and in his primary he suggested, as an "idea balloon," moving the nation's capital to the middle of the country, a project proposed here at Pundits Blog in 2012. I am delighted that Dr. Sasse has brought it up and hope to have served as his Sherpa guide. Here are three related thoughts which could mature in his tenure and rise into the new century.

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1. Nationalism vs. globalism: The clash of ideas which took the world to blood and booty in the last 150 years of the millennium was between global capitalism and global socialism. That season has passed. Columnist Pat Buchanan made a convincing case recently that the force/counterforce to the rising times is nationalism vs. globalism. We see devolution to nationalism already today in Scotland, Catalonia, Venice and Flanders. "Nationalism is the natural enemy of empires, and it seems on the rise almost everywhere," Buchanan writes.

2. Faith vs. law, small state vs. Leviathan: Israel matures today in the direction of a Torah-based society. Via the 10th Amendment, American regions will advance particular ethics creating "natural states" out of "legal states." This brings America to a shift from Hamiltonian centralization of government and economy to Thomas Jefferson's perspective on the empowerment of the states and regions. Both major political parties today are Hamiltonian, but a division rises today in conservatism between Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians.

Historian Frank Owsley has made well the distinction: "In the beginning of Washington's administration two men defined the fundamental principles of the political philosophies of the two societies, Alexander Hamilton for the North and Thomas Jefferson for the South. The one was extreme centralization, the other was extreme decentralization. The one was nationalistic and the other provincial; the first was called Federalist, the other States Rights, but in truth the first should have been called Unitarianism and the second Federalism." An age of Jefferson rises.

3. A supercommittee of governors moves the nation's capital: A nation's capital should be the benign center of naturally contending and countervailing forces in the country. Washington was the perfect location in 1776 to link the opposing temperament of the industrial North with the agrarian South. America then consisted of three Eastern cities and a forest. Today, America rises in the middle states in economy and population, with New York City and environs declining in prosperity on one edge while sister-state California and rapacious Los Angeles lose population and business to Texas on the other.

The 1776 model has no relevance to the rising and receding American regions today whatsoever. Federal influence will naturally devolve to mature regions via the 10th Amendment as the regions rise to strength and demand self-respect and autonomy. A supercommittee of governors might be considered today to consider fair and equitable representation of these regions and consider their relationship to one another. Ambassador George Kennan proposed a model of 12 regions for devolution of Washington power in his late work. President Richard Nixon also proposed a regionalization model but one too soon and poorly conceived.

Washington is also on America's European edge where European influence is undeniable. As Asia rises in the world and in America's imagination, a place like Des Moines, Iowa (or Louisville, Ky., or St. Louis) is now not only the center of America, but the center of the world: East, West, South and the Great White North.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.