Every parent wants the best possible life for their children. That means that before they leave this world, parents want to create and leave societies in which their children and grandchildren will live comfortably and peacefully. Given all of that, it is quite a mystery that American parents are instead busy setting up a hellscape.

Blue and Red America have been at each other’s throat for many years now. Judging by the increasing level of acrimony, there is no sign that either side wants to deescalate. One gets the sense that total victory over the other has become the goal for both camps. The time for compromise on anything seems to be over.

But what makes anyone think that whichever side loses will simply raise the white flag and go home quietly? In modern wars, vanquished sides often mount guerrilla warfare, the goal of which is to make life hell for the winners and, by extension, for everyone else.

The thinking is that the overwhelming majority of the American population is in the middle, and that the troublemakers on the fringes of the Democratic and Republican parties can and should be ignored. That is quite wrong. We vastly underestimate the harm that a small group of determined ideologues can do to the health of our society.

Immigrants like me who have experienced life in societies that were once functional but are no longer, understand this danger quite well. The decay is always gradual. By the time the damage becomes evident, it is often too late to reverse it.

In America, we put a lot of faith in our institutions, expecting that when things get out of hand, they will ride to the rescue. That is dangerous complacency. Institutions are only as good as their cultural underpinnings. If we continue to corrode the culture at the rate we are on currently, we could reach that dreaded point of no return soon before we know it.

Immigration is a huge global problem today. Desperate people from many parts of the world are moving en masse to other places where they can find better lives. The root of the economic problems that constitute the primary driver of the exodus is dysfunctional politics. Invariably, a small group of people hijack national politics in pursuit of their narrow interests. Left unchecked, the disruptive impact of their actions quickly turns entire nations into ungovernable and unlivable places.

While it is highly unlikely that America will ever become unlivable, we should be careful not to unduly take life for granted, lest we get a nasty surprise. That is because in many parts of our country today, we have enough of the characters whose actions create political dysfunction. Some Americans have already decided that they have had enough of this place. Those who have emigrated in recent years have tended to be blacks who left to escape racism. But lately, those numbers have included some disenchanted whites.

It is just a trickle for now. And those Americans who choose to leave can pretty much pick any country they want and settle there. They are welcome in many places because as well-resourced citizens of the wealthiest nation on the planet, they are not seen as potential burdens on their new societies. But that should not be taken for granted either. Immigration tends to be tolerable when the numbers of arrivals are small. What if emigration becomes increasingly necessary for more of us? Would any American parent sleep well today if they knew that their children and grandchildren could someday be caught behind some nations’ border walls the way poor Mexicans, South Americans, Africans, and Asians are trapped behind ours now?

Whether we live in Blue or Red America, we should constantly remind ourselves that our primary duty is to be responsible parents. Creating a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren to live and prosper in should be our number one priority. Our blind loyalties to party and tribe are dangerously distracting us from fulfilling this all-important responsibility.