Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint urged attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference today to realize the importance of allowing decisions and governance to happen at local levels, not at the federal level.

“What [Edmund] Burke calls ‘public affections’—the bonds that connect us to a home, a community, a state, to a country, to a people—they don’t exist because some political bullies in the Administration or Congress mandated them,” DeMint, a former senator, said.

“They come instead from the links we share with all the ‘little platoons’ in our lives,” he continued. “A family. A church. A school. A local charity. A middle school soccer team. A PTA. A small business where we work.”

Through such institutions, DeMint mused, “we have affection for our communities, our fellow citizens … and it is what sustains our love for America – the country that makes it all possible.”

More from DeMint:

What is happening to our country is enough to frustrate and depress even the most optimistic Americans. Many have simply checked out of the public debate altogether, and who can blame them?

“Politics,” supposedly the art of achieving the highest common good for our Republic, has become a bludgeon to replace little platoons and individual decision-making with one-size-fits all solutions …that don’t fit anyone.

When power is taken from individuals and the little platoons, and concentrated in Washington, the fundamental building blocks of our public service and public affection crumbles.

And so government dependence replaces community support and self-reliance. Handouts replace hand-ups. Resentment replaces love of country.