America's divisions: The greatest strategic vulnerability of our time
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With all the coming and going in President Trump’s whirlwind White House, one can forget about the grave and gathering threats our nation faces.

In just last week, international reporting – from Iran successfully launching a satellite into space, to a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group leaving the coalition to fight ISIS, to the Afghan Taliban taking new districts in Afghanistan, to the intelligence community now assessing that North Korea will be able to launch a reliable, nuclear-capable ICBM by early 2018, to China further reinforcing its northern border with North Korea amid rising tensions and concerns of military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, to Vladimir Putin signing a law that ratifies a deal with the Syrian government to maintain a Russian airbase in Syria for half a century — reminds us that we live in a rapidly evolving and dangerous world.

And yet, even within the context of these growing threats and on-going conflicts, let me share some truth in less than 140 characters: Our deep, internal divisions are our greatest strategic vulnerability.

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In fact, we are doing more to harm our Republic and allow our country to crumble from within than our nation’s enemies could ever do on their own.

If the United States is to remain a leader in the world, secure peace and prosperity, and strategically renew our country to meet the challenges of the 21st Century; we must rebuild the foundation of our country and renew the sacred social compact within our society.

To do this, we must implement two fundamental power shifts within our political system:  

  1. A devolution of decision-making power from the federal government to state and local governments; and
  2. A reassertion of Congress’s constitutional power over policy-making.

Devolution of decision-making power to states

The tension over the relative power between the federal and the states is as old as the Republic itself and was among the great debates at our founding.  

Alexander Hamilton argued for a strong, central government.  He believed the merchant-class and big business economy would lead to opportunities for all.  

On the other hand, Jefferson envisioned a country in which “property owning farmers that controlled their own destiny” (the small business owners of the time).  Jefferson believe that a Republic that had as its backbone the small enterprise would keep “alive that sacred fire” of liberty and virtue.  Jefferson warned against the potential for extreme greed within an exclusively big business, big finance economy, and he feared that Hamilton’s vision would allow the monied interests to prevail in society.  

It is clear that our country has gone fully in the direction of Hamiltonianism — and then some.  It is also increasingly clear that what Jefferson warned against — the potential for imbalance in our society through a Hamiltonian approach — is among our central problems today.  

We can rectify this imbalance and strategically renew our country, much like many of our greatest presidents have done across our history, from Lincoln reasserting the power of the federal government over states, to Teddy Roosevelt’s breakup of monopolies, to Ronald Reagan diminishing the centralized power of the federal government.

Each of these great presidents — Republicans all — recognized the imbalance of power between the federal and the states — the big and the small in society — and took decisive action to regain balance.  The preservation of our Republic was the centerpiece of their political leadership — something we do not see from our political leadership today.  

Reasserting the constitutional power of Congress

Given the “disruption presidency” of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE and our growing internal divisions, this is precisely the moment in which Congress should reassert its constitutional powers.  However, the necessity to devolve powers from the presidency — particularly with respect to domestic policymaking — goes well beyond Trump presidency.  

In our time, when the people feel that their voice has been diminished, this is precisely the moment that Congress must claw back power from the Executive Branch and reestablish regular order within the legislating process — at the very least, fostering incremental change for the people and, at the very best, ensuring that the people’s voice from all corners of the United States are both heard and integrated into democratic processes — much as Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE counseled us on the Senate Floor last week.

By devolving decision-making power to the states and localities — closer to the people — and through Congress reasserting its Constitutional authority (particularly on domestic policymaking), we may begin to foster a new political awakening in America.  

But there is another critical change that will save our Republic: a new political party and a new generation of leadership.  

Our malaise and disenchantment is, in-large-part, the product of the destructive political culture of the Baby Boom generation that has permeated both political parties — not to mention virtually every institution in our society.

Bill (and Hillary) Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE and Donald J. Trump, are all Baby Boomers whose era of political leadership furthered our internal divisions.  

Therefore, if we recognize our deep, internal divisions as our greatest strategic vulnerability and even a grave threat to our Republic, then the destructive political culture will come to an end. Yet this cannot happen without a new generation of leadership.  

So, to my generation — the sons and daughters of the Baby Boomers — run, run, run and lead, lead, lead.  

And to all Americans, the truth absolutely can be achieved in less than 140 characters.  So, here is some more truth: We must save our Republic — from ourselves.

Alex Gallo served as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee. He is a West Point graduate, a combat veteran, and a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School. His work has been published by The Washington Post, National Review The Huffington Post, The Hill, and Foreign Affairs. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGalloUSA.


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