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‘Drunken on individualism, we no longer can muster civic devotion’

There are private subcultures in American life that act like political subdivisions of the state and nation. They demand independence and status as sovereign entities in our society.

One such subculture is the sports world, which is further atomized into units like recreational, school, college and professional. These worlds encompass patriotic citizenries who give fanatical devotion to an individual, team or a sport, almost at the level of an army marching to the Holy Land to fight for God and king.

The only problem here is that this subculture zealotry tends to replace any loyalty to the broader community, state and nation. The narrower the focus for a self-absorbed group of individuals, the easier to manage.

The “liberty” philosophy of the post-World War II period has accomplished what might be called the libertarian gaslighting of America. Libertarian politicians have found it to their everlasting benefit to persuade individuals, families, corporations, churches and – most especially consumers – that every person and group is sovereign and supreme, and that no force can contain them or tell them what to say or do.

Every person has an inalienable right to become addicted to pornography, opiates, gambling, video games, food and drink, online shopping and any number of other rarified constitutional rights. They can buy AR-15s and use them when they please. They can take over school boards and district attorney offices and replace public servants with religious zealots.

They can disobey the law with no injury to conscience. They can take their friends down this anti-democracy road without remorse.

Why is this libertarian revolution so beneficial to politicians? Because it puts them in a position of delivering the average citizen from any sense of responsibility to something bigger than his or her own ego.

That is a big relief to the average young citizen after all the admonitions and restrictions on behavior placed on them in high school.

Furthermore, it places the politician in the position of being the true savior of humankind and in a better position to be re-elected to lifetime power in office.

We have a nation so thoroughly drunken on the idea of individualism, we no longer can muster any sense of civic devotion to shared public values like common citizenship responsibilities.

Today, the nation has recently offered up the perfect embodiment of the libertarian anti-citizen ideal. Donald Trump countenances little in the way of constraints, ethics, morals, boundaries, financial accountability or law enforcement related to his personal conduct.

He is fine with imposing all this on others as long as it doesn’t come down on him.

Can it get any better for a leader and his devoted followers in America?

Robert Kimball Shinkoskey is the author of books on democracy, religion, and the American presidency and lives in Woods Cross, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City.