Politics feels broken these days, at least it does to me. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't -- but it feels that way.
Politicians casually assert dire and ill-supported calumnies about one another as fact. Parties and voters are drifting apart, from Republican never-Trumpers to the recent poll* that says fifty-four percent of Democrats believe their party is leaning too far to the left.
I'd give you the Yeats line about, "The center cannot hold," except there is no center, only a propaganda-blasted no-man's land in which the hand of Man dare not set foot -- or at least, no politician-man. Or -woman.
On the other hand (or perhaps foot), and despite discovering that I've been blocked by yet another Facebooker for not disliking Mr. Trump with sufficient force, or perhaps for suggesting angry Marx-based online rants accomplish exactly as much as angry Rand-based online rants (nothing), civil society keeps on keepin' on. Keeps on, but people are a little more irked, a little more convinced of the futility of our political and governmental institutions, and a little more likely to listen to politicians claiming to have The Answer.
That's what worries me. One of the greatest strengths of this country was that we didn't have a single answer; oh, sure, there are broad principles, most importantly the structure of the Federal and State governments as Constitutionally-limited republics, but it's fairly loose and gets looser the closer it gets to the individual citizen. The United States has long been a great mass of people, churning in something like Brownian motion, innovating, growing and generally confounding and outproducing our enemies. This country has been unpredictable.
Any intelligence service will tell you that unpredictability makes their work more difficult. One of the reasons the CIA liked strongmen better than popular uprisings was that it was a lot easier to figure out what the strongman would do.
Americans burned out by politics, divided, looking to a Man (or Woman) On Horseback to solve their troubles -- drain the swamp, end economic inequality, control the violence in our cities, fix the border, etc. -- are predictable.
This is a boon to our enemies and no favor to ourselves. For that matter, it's a gift to our nominally-friendly competitors in world trade.
Please bear it in mind. Don't give up. Don't give in to bitter rancor. Whatever oddball notions you cherish, don't be stampeded away from them. America is a mob, a rabble; a wonderful, creative mess with plenty of individual answers. Let's keep it that way.
* Cited on Meet The Press this morning. Closest I can find is a CNN exit poll from the midterms, with 54% of Democrat voters describing themselves as "moderate" or "conservative." As did about half the Democrats they voted into office.
4 weeks ago