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A Politics Of Localism

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_RjULGnoCk&w=525&h=300]

That’s a short report from Catholic News Service about the recent Front Porch Republic conference. The print version — not a transcript, but a somewhat different piece! — is here. Excerpts:

Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and then-candidate Bernie Sanders were called “populist,” but neither represented a viable form of populist politics because theirs was “all fury and no love,” said a speaker at a recent academic conference.

The sixth annual Front Porch Republic conference at the University of Notre Dame was not affiliated with any political party or religious group, but attracted many Christians who want to revitalize a local community culture in an effort to stave off what Pope Francis has termed a “globalization of indifference.”

Bill Kauffman, a political writer who spoke about “Populism and Place” at the conference in early October, told Catholic News Service in Rome that a healthy political culture must focus on the local community — something that no major candidate today is doing.

“Any healthy populism has to be grounded in the particular, in the love of one’s neighbors, of one’s town, of one’s community, and it’s a defense of that community, of those neighbors, against remote rule,” Kauffman explained.


The conference participants “are really very worn out with the conventional political discourse in this country,” said Elias Crim, founder of Solidarity Hall, a website and publishing house specializing in topics related to Catholic social teaching.

The participants, he said, “have always been ‘third way’ people” who do not wholly identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party and are focused on inventing a political philosophy that works for “our own neighborhood, communities, localities.”

“Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, therefore we need to know who they are,” said Susannah Black, a Christian blogger who spoke at the conference.

Another participant, Grace Potts, said she home-schools her six children and prefers to buy handmade goods from local vendors.

“Where can I get fair-trade chocolate for the least price and from a local vendor?” Potts asks herself. “And the answer is, there’s one guy and he’s dealing out of his garage. And this is how I’m doing my grocery shopping.”

For Potts, buying locally is a moral act, because “connection and communion is everything, it’s the center of who we are” and “having nameless, faceless transactions degrades that,” she said.

Read the whole thing — and watch the video. What Patrick Deneen and Grace Potts have to say in it is really interesting and important.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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