Rebuilding our country starts at the local level
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What comes next? This fundamental question is what many Americans are asking themselves.

The devastating flooding in Texas due to a Hurricane Harvey. What comes next? The continued provocations from the North Korean regime. What comes next? Our politics. What comes next?

Unfortunately, there are no immediate answers to these questions and little hope that answers will be revealed any time soon. This uncertainty naturally leads many towards despair, pessimism, and an assumption that the turmoil, disharmony, and infighting occurring in our country will only continue.


That is until one turns on the news and observes Americans on the front lines helping each other rise above the waters of Hurricane Harvey. Neighbors helping neighbors, towns helping towns, communities helping communities. Meeting the challenge head-on.

Some will argue that we are a hopelessly divided country. That the deep nature of our fissures somehow means permanence.

But Harvey has given us hope.

Hurricane Harvey has revealed that when Americans are empowered to act — particularly at the local level — our differences can be overcome.

It is these quiet acts of selfless service to our fellow Americans that is what has always made America great. And selfless action, ultimately, is the greatest political act  because it is an act of love.

What we need to do as a nation is democratize action by putting a national focus on localization not just globalization.

Globalization will help our country’s economy continue to grow in the 21st century, but localization will help us rebuild. Yet, we cannot stop there.

We need to integrate the global and the local: a “glo-calization” of our society. This would strategically renew our country and allow us to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“Glo-calization” would make America great – again.

The U.S. military has always embraced “glo-calization” and selfless action. The U.S. military’s general approach is to resource at the global level to empower those at the local level, which provides those closest to the fight with the confidence and resolve to meet the complex challenges that they face each and every day.

That is why I was not surprised to hear Secretary Mattis say “hold the line” and take care of each other to U.S. troops deployed overseas. Here again, we see an empowerment of those at the local level towards selfless action and love.

But there was another feature of Mattis’ speech. He seemed to be saying that we need you to lead by example for our divided country and  show our country that it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, perhaps “what comes next” is the wrong question. The real question is: who comes next?

The answer is you.

We can no longer wait for things to happen. Yelling, marching, and fighting will only further and even deepen our divisions. We must instead empower at the local level and lead in constructive and tangible ways.

We must do what we can; where we are at. We must lead in our local towns and communities. Join community organizations, start a small business, or run for local political office.

The rebuilding and renewal of our country must come from the bottom up.

Just as Mattis was telling our young military leaders on front lines to “hold the line,” we must “hold the line” here at home as well.

Our time is for those “closest to the fight:” the Marine Corps sergeant and the Army captain, the mayor, the governor, the town council member, the first responder, the small business owner.

Now, more than ever, these individuals must be our heroes, our leaders, and where our nation draws its strength.

So, to those “closest to the fight” – from Houston to Herat – our nation needs you.

Hold the line. And take care of each other.

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. You can find him on on Twitter: @AlexGalloUSA

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.