Dial It Back – By How Much?

Tearing up our civic institutions is a bad way to go politically, but it’s particularly ill-suited for opposing someone who, just for the sake of argument, may actually want to tear up our civic institutions. Robin Hanson urges Trump-panickers to “dial it back,” which I think in general is good advice.

Still it puts many progressives in the odd, awkward position of acting like conservatives: It forces them to insist on the proper channels and forms whereby power is exercised in ordinary political life. I don’t expect progressives to be credible here, or be good at it, or to keep perspective. What follows are some notes on how to keep perspective anyway, in light of the fact that we don’t actually know what we’re headed for.

Which scenarios are we likely to get? Which ones would be cause for “panic,” and which would not? And what would that mean? Let’s start with the worst and least likely.

If Trump is on track to be Hitler – which I have certainly heard – then the next items on the agenda will be a Night of the Long Knives – political extrajudicial killings of opponents within and outside the party – and then Gleichschaltung – the wholesale, forcible subversion of the institutions of civil society.

I have to say: That really, really doesn’t feel like where we’re headed. It just doesn’t.

Of course, either of these steps would be reason to panic. If there were political extrajudicial killings, or if the freedoms of the press and of private civic association were directly attacked, then we should all rise up in bloody revolution. At that point we have nothing left to lose.

That’s interesting, but it’s not interesting because it’s likely. It’s interesting because it fuels a lot of political agitation despite its being wildly improbable.

And not just on the left: Those who listen to the extreme right inevitably hear that the left has already done exactly this stuff. Conspiracy theorists already believe that the Clintons are happy to murder any and all who get in their way, starting with Vince Foster and running all the way to Seth Rich. And even the mainstream right wing believes in a kind of Gleichschaltung, in which leftists came to predominate in the academy, pop culture, and the bureaucratic elite of Washington.

In this they are not completely wrong. The left really does dominate in those places. And although it hardly happened through state violence, it seems silly to quibble about this with someone who also believes that the Clintons just bump off anyone who happens to displease them.

Anyway. Key here is that some share of the political right believes that we already live in the nightmare. For them, both sides doing it wouldn’t be a radical departure. A lot more could be said about the left-right disconnect here, but for the moment the key fact is that it makes the nightmare a whole lot easier to realize.

The very worst sorts on both sides of the political spectrum have a strong interest in making the present look exactly like 1933. Everyone else ought to deny them the pleasure. We should seek to disappoint rather than validate an individual like Richard Spencer, just for example:

By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless…

He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

“Heil victory” is just “Sieg heil” translated for American consumption, but you probably knew that already.

Let’s circle back around, though, because I don’t believe that this is the path we’re taking. Spencer is as capable of misreading the signals as anyone else – more, probably, because he would appear to hold sincerely some very silly beliefs that the Nazis cooked up about themselves – the children of the sun legend &ndah; except that Spencer thinks they apply to white Americans, whatever that means, and not Germans. This simply has to do a number on one’s foresight.

So the risks that this is the path we’re on may have gone up, but if so they’ve gone up from essentially nil to essentially nil times two, if that. Let’s consider more realistic scenarios, because many otherwise unmitigated disasters fall short of literally electing Hitler. Too much Hitler talk makes us not pay attention to the rest, and the rest can be plenty bad.

What would be the appropriate response, for example, to someone who governs like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and who engages in the mass internment of first- and second-generation Americans whose ethnicity he considers suspect?

What would be the appropriate response to someone who brings back waterboarding, and who adds “much worse,” as Trump has promised to do?

What would be the appropriate response to someone who governs like Silvio Berlusconi? That is, someone who is overtly venal, frequently embarrassing, and apparently interested chiefly in enriching his own business?

None of these things requires Night of the Long Knives or a Gleichschaltung. All of them have happened, either here or elsewhere. All have been causes of enduring national shame. I’ve listed them in what I think is an ascending order of probability; none are mutually exclusive. I would bet on the last two, but not yet on the first. All would be catastrophes as far as I’m concerned.

How much worry, exactly, should I have about these other, vastly more plausible scenarios? How much am I supposed to be comforted by the idea that panicking isn’t yet in order, and that it might not be in order at all?

A Little Local History

I live on the unmarked graves of human chattel. Nearly all Americans do, in some sense, but in the South it’s literal.

A glance at the history of Prince George’s County, Maryland shows it was one plantation after another. Fairview. Belair. Pleasant Prospect. In the smarmy name department I think my favorite is probably His Lordship’s Kindness: Imagine being a slave and waking up there every morning.

Plantations were like that though, horrible places with saccharine names. In Maryland they grew tobacco, a noxious, addictive weed with little redeeming value. Among its planters was the lawyer Gabriel Duvall:

He lived in my neighborhood.

This man owned human beings.

In 1811, James Madison nominated Duvall to the U.S. Supreme Court. He served for many years, but historians now argue about whether any other justice was less consequential. This is Justice Duvall’s house:

Just about five miles away.

This is where he lived.

Named “Marietta,” it passed for a mansion in its day. Marietta sits a pleasant five miles from my own house; it’s a good landmark for long-distance runs. It’s also a county museum. In the warm months, Marietta’s front lawn hosts a farmer’s market.

The justice is buried in the back; so is his wife. So is his horse, for that matter. It has a tombstone and everything.

On social media we learn of visitors’ inconvenient questions: Where did the slaves live? What were their lives like? What did they eat? How did they pray? Where are they buried? And many of these questions go unanswered.

Yeah, we already know about the horse. Thanks.

It matters what we make monuments of. It matters what we deliberately set up to admire and commemorate. These things get re-negotiated from time to time, but not, as conservatives sometimes say, because we are trying to erase history.

Something else is happening here. I’m a white guy with relatively few family ties to the South, and even I would much rather know about the slaves’ lives than know the final resting place of the horse of an inconsequential Supreme Court justice.

The story of the past is contested and difficult to tell, not because some mendacious party is out there vigorously changing it, but because multiple completely true stories really are possible to tell from the exact same primary sources. All that needs to vary is the emphasis, and we vary that emphasis ourselves, simply by asking different questions of the past: All across the South there are monuments to a deliberately perpetrated atrocity, done in cold blood, from generation to generation. And plantation life really was sweet, for some.

It is a joke among historians that we ascribe all causality to the rising bourgeoisie. Inconveniently, the bourgeoisie has been rising for a good five thousand years or so, and things that seem to explain everything usually explain nothing. But it is sure interesting being bourgeois, though, on the ruins of slavery. It’s especially interesting when most of your neighbors actually are the black bourgeoisie that your grandparents’ grandparents never thought possible.

This article is eleven years old, but it’s about our neighborhood, the one we share with the grave of Justice Duvall:

“Grandma, who are these old people up there?” Anna Holmes asked when she was a little girl in the 1930s, pointing to the sketch of her great-great-grandparents. It hung in the living room in a gold-colored frame, looking as if Norman Rockwell had channeled Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The man in the picture wore suspenders and a bushy mustache and had a sparkle in his eyes. The woman had on a large apron and a bandanna framing her round face.

“Well, that is my grandmother and grandfather,” Fannie Johnson replied to the girl who always spent summers on Church Road, where tobacco fields once stretched to the horizon. “That is Lizzie and Basil Wood.

“They are buried on the Bowie plantation.”

At 12, Anna was curious but wary. She knew that the Bowie family estate was just down the road, but the black and white children on Church Road rarely mixed.

“I felt like there was an invisible wall,” she would recall many years later.

So her grandmother’s words sank into her mind, like pennies in a fountain.

Church Road leads roughly from my place to Marietta. Just a slight detour takes you to Fairview, the site of the story. Read the whole thing. Be ready to cry, if you’re of the type.

As a trained historian, I’ve spent a lot of time hearing from conservatives that the profession of history is destroying itself, or destroying the country, or both. I have a hard time imagining anything more wrong than these objections. Stable histories are for static societies. The history of a diverse and growing and changing society — the history of a heterotic society — will itself be heterotic. It will change and grow over time, and various parts will be emphasized more, or less. It is not a sign of our decline, but of our growth, that our histories become more diverse.

Nobody recorded the horse's name, we are told..

I hope you didn’t think I was kidding.

What’s an “Elite”? or, Don’t Tell Me You’ve Never Heard This Song Before

Watch this until the end, if you haven’t already:

Now imagine, if you can, that you have never heard this song before.

Don’t say that you have heard it. Don’t say, “Oh man, that’s the song from Shrek.” Don’t tell me it’s been done to death. I know: It has been done to death. For you.

Just try hearing it like you haven’t heard it before. Here we are, days after the election. Saturday Night Live cold opens with this weird tear-jerker of a song. It’s about King David, and adultery, and castration. It must have been written for the occasion, you figure. But that’s preposterous. And it’s being sung by Hillary Lesbian Clinton. Of course.

Can you understand how completely insane that must have sounded? Anecdotally I can tell you: That’s exactly how it sounded to a lot of people.

There’s been a lot of discussion of how Trump’s win was a rebuke to the “elites” of the country, but as my colleague Julian Sanchez pointed out, the word has been strangely under-defined. What exactly is an elite? Socioeconomic, racial, educational, and other metrics don’t seem to fit the term as it has been used just lately.

I would suggest that the elites being rebuked here are professional media consumers.

I’m one of them. It’s literally my job to spend hours and hours online looking for interesting arguments, curating them, discussing with their authors, and producing additional arguments. That’s what I get paid for.

In a relevant sense, this is also Kate McKinnon’s job. She must know, as I do, that Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has been done to death. Hell, the very assertion that Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has been done to death itself has been done to death. We find it in the New York Times, and the Atlantic, and Slate and Pitchfork, and an entire book. I’m sure that this informed her choice of why to play it. Properly understood, it was hilarious. And also sad.

Not everyone, though, is a professional media consumer who lives on the Internet and only interacts with other PMCs for most of their professional lives. And so I do think that the nods and winks that McKinnon brilliantly added to her performance — gestures aimed at PMCs like me — fell flat to a lot of people. This is much like all of our earlier signals of concern about the Trump candidacy, which were based on specialized knowledges that we have been terrible at communicating.

We elites, understood as PMCs, were also pushed away. Hard. Anyone who writes about public policy full-time could see that Trump was grossly uninformed and unprepared. That’s why his newspaper endorsements were so few. Journalists saw right through him, regardless of their ideology, because they cover policy every day. They’re policy PMCs, and therefore know policy details, which Trump has never even slightly demonstrated.

It’s not just that people outside the political class were drawn to his rhetoric, though clearly they were. PMCs could tell that he wasn’t one of us, and in ways that were not at all analogous to using the wrong fork for salad. These matters will have consequences, though we don’t know just what they will be yet: Offhand, Trump would suggest defaulting on U.S. debt obligations, or letting Japan get the bomb, or imposing a religious test for entering the country… without showing any awareness that these were indeed radical departures, and that they would raise enormous legal and/or implementation problems.

Policy-based PMCs flipped out: Those problems would be happening exactly where a lot of us live, regardless of political party. We don’t know how to do what he’s asking, and he would know that, if he had spent any time at all with us.

Division of labor has created some interesting things in its history, but the gap between PMCs and non-PMCs is one of the more troubling ones I can think of, and I say that as a PMC.

Look to Whom You Have Empowered

I know Trump voters. I’m related to Trump voters. I’m also not one of them.

I might even be one of those elites that they’ve come to mistrust — whatever that may mean. One thing that goes with this territory is that I’ve done a lot of listening lately.

My friend Mark Houser said it well on Facebook:

If you ask pundits and politicos why Trump won, they’ll say something like, “Trump found a way to appeal to the economic concerns of the working class.”

But if you ask actual Trump voters to explain why they supported Trump, they’ll say things like, “He’s not a politician,” “He speaks his mind,” “He’s an outsider,” “He’s going to shake things up/drain the swamp,” etc. (Note that all of these jive really well with “He’s not Hillary.”)

It seems to me that the economic explanation for Trump’s success is grossly overstated.

If you doubt that, ask yourself this: How many of Trump’s supporters could Hillary have drawn away if she, say, had been more aggressively anti-trade? Few, I think.

Mark’s explanations are the ones I’ve heard as well. Absolutely none of this is a message of hate.

We are less different than we may be tempted to imagine. They are not more American than I am, and I am not more American than they. I would like to think that our similarities are still relevant.

We all know that Hillary Clinton will never be in the White House again. Strange as it may sound, I can assure you that most of us in the “elite” — how I hate that term — are relieved she lost. Maybe we’re openly relieved, like I am, or maybe it’s in private, like certain Democrats I know. Many of us only voted for Clinton because Trump did not seem to be at all a suitable candidate; it was not from any love for her.

But there’s a serious problem here: Not all “not Hillary” options are equally okay. Some “not Hillary” options are also terrible — they’re at least as bad as her, and maybe they’re a lot worse.

Before the election I was worried about Trump’s policies. I remain worried today. I think they are bad policies, and I think that many of them are apt to go awry in predictable ways even if they are not administered by malevolent officials.

I also worried, though, about the people whom Trump would empower and encourage. These people do not think like the typical Trump voter. It is grossly unfair to suggest that they do. Yet Trump has undoubtedly built them into his coalition, and now that he has won, the signs are clear that he intends to bring them aboard.

I don’t imagine that the Trump voters I know could have named Steve Bannon before the election, or that they knew he held the views he does. But I knew: He’s a proud member of the alt-right who believes that multi-ethnic democracy is completely impossible.

I don’t think the Trump voters I knew could have said who Frank Gaffney was, although I knew of him: He’s a conspiracy theorist. For years he told anyone who would listen that Obama wanted to implement Sharia law. Now he’s hoping that people will forget that, because it was obviously nonsense all along.

I don’t imagine the Trump voters I know could have named Kris Kobach. But I could name him: He’s the man who wants to force all Muslim immigrants to register with the government. Nothing but evil could come of a policy like that.

Strange as it may sound to my friends in the “elite,” I’ve had to explain to Trump voters what the alt-right even was. I’ve had to explain why I and my colleagues had been getting death threats from them. They were incredulous. One response I got was to say that it was a false flag. They blamed Hillary Clinton, who must have been really mad about losing.

No, I had to explain, we’d been getting death threats for months. They came from people who openly celebrate the Holocaust and who look forward to doing it again.

Yes indeed, there are people worse than Hillary Clinton. Trump voters, I’ve listened to you about how bad she was. I’ve agreed with you, about a lot of it. I’ve listened when you complained of the toxic climate of political correctness on our college campuses. I agreed with you about that, too, and I even published about it — early in Obama’s first term.

Now I ask that you listen to me: Look to whom you have empowered. These people don’t represent your values.

It remains to be seen just how much power Trump will allow them. Already it’s clearly more than “they’ll have something to celebrate in a YouTube comments section.” And yet so far it’s clearly less than “they’re running the whole country.” But it’s closer to the second than it is to the first.

I’d love to be able to tie this post up neatly, but too much remains unknown right now. Or, I should say, too much remains in your hands. You put Trump in office, and you may be able to influence his behavior better than I could. So instead of a neat conclusion, I’ll tie it up with some profanity.

I’ve seen this a lot on Twitter:

Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker. End of story.

If that’s the end of the story, then we’re well and truly fucked. Let’s not let that be the end of the story, okay?

Update: Frank Gaffney has denied reports that he is involved in the transition team. “I know he’s a nice guy but he’s not part of the transition team,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller.

The Heterotic Society

In biology, heterosis is the tendency of a crossbred individual to show qualities superior to those of both parents. Humans may or may not display biological heterosis, but societies do best when they have a high degree of cultural heterosis: In a heterotic society, we are all to a significant degree mutts in our habits and practices. This makes us flexible, broad-minded, and creative. Individuals in a heterotic society have a wide variety of coping strategies for the challenges they face, and if their toolkits fall short, they know that others, with other cultural resources, are willing and able to help.

In economics, cultural heterosis makes us rich. In foreign policy, it makes us peaceful. In the culture wars… well, a truly heterotic society doesn’t have culture wars. The heterotic society is not litigious. It is patient, curious, and quietly confident. It holds that an elevated taste for novelty is a virtue.

The heterotic society is not a melting pot. In a true melting pot, the end is homogeneity. Distinctive traits from various subgroups are averaged out, or perhaps they are normalized to match the traits of some dominant group. Over time, any given element of the mixture increasingly comes to resemble any other. The melting pot may appeal to conservatives, but it is nearly the opposite of heterosis. As a model, it is to be rejected.

The heterotic society is also not a society of rigidly divided and squabbling identity groups. The legislators of a heterotic society do not insist on the maintenance any tribal identity within it. As a general rule: You may have your identity, but it’s up to you to keep it. In this it resembles but also differs from the more usual multiculturalism of the left. Holders of the heterotic ideal are apt to see a hidden conservatism in the contemporary left’s maintenance of identities within their boundaries.

Heterotic societies welcome much — though not all — of what has disapprovingly been termed cultural appropriation. As Jacob Levy put it, cultural appropriation is a poor umbrella concept, and yet it also covers some things that are blameworthy. There is a world of difference between racist caricature and cross-racial adaptation. It works a great evil to conflate the two, because it strikes at the process by which the heterotic society sustains itself.

Those who cultivate the virtues of heterosis do not regard identity as destiny. They regard it as performance. Identities are always built from a variety of elements derived from previous identities. Their creative combination in any individual’s case is a matter for what Aristotle termed phronesis — the wisdom that relates to practical things.

So what if Aristotle said only men were capable of phronesis. The heterotic society takes his ideas anyway. It gives them to women and says, “here, you do something with this.”

Being mutts makes us more diverse over time. New York in the 1950s was one of the most heterotic cities on the planet, but its inhabitants still had to be cautioned against pronouncing “taco” with a long a. The New Yorkers of the time would be astonished by today’s New Yorkers. Or even by today’s residents of Plano, Texas. The idea that we have a limited capacity to affirm diversity has been falsified again and again.

Some aspects of a person’s identity are inborn and difficult to change, but a heterotic society makes room for those who want to try anyway. Transgender? Heterosis says go for it. Transracial? We might not be ready for that in our world, but perhaps eventually we will be. And already, everybody’s a little transracial sometimes. Are they not?

Wikipedia is perhaps the paradigm heterotic institution of the real world. Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels are the paradigm case in science fiction. The Culture splits down the middle the question of cultural universality and cultural particularity: The Culture cheerfully borrows from others. It lacks all borders. It embraces the ideal of infinite diversity way more than the Vulcans ever did. Its unity consists of a peaceful platform for borrowing and sharing — or for going separate ways, if that’s what’s desired. The Culture is post-scarcity and we are not, but I don’t think it matters.

What I offer is an ideal type. It’s trivial to point out that various real societies fall short, including our own. Yet the heterotic ideal seems so clear and so obvious to me. We Americans have been doing heterosis for most of our history, often badly, and usually without realizing it. A conscious defense looks more and more necessary to me, even if I’m the only one who thinks in these terms. Or… maybe I’m not as crazy as I think. I’m not sure.

Becoming a Democrat

I am registering as a Democrat.

Mom, dad, I’m sorry.

No, I haven’t changed what I believe. I will be a libertarian Democrat. We’re rare, which gives me the luxury of cutting my own path. I’m sure I’ll be fine.

I have never been faithful to any political party, and I expect that I will be no different here. Still, this is clearly where I belong for now, and maybe it will be for quite some time.

My reasons are as follows. 

In the primaries I was only nominally a Republican. I could not understand how Republicans were so enamored of the man they were choosing. If Trump’s demeanor had been magnanimous and calm, I would have rejected him for his policy views. If Trump’s policies had been sensible, I would have rejected him for his boorishness and cruelty. These traits were only underscored by the numerous graphic and grossly racist death threats that I and many of my colleagues received during the entire length of the campaign cycle. That never happened to us when we wrote critically of Romney, or of Obama.

I cast a proud symbolic vote against Trump, and I’m glad that I did it. My fuller reasons for that are here.

I’m also glad that I immediately changed my registration back to Libertarian. The Republican Party deserved a mass exodus, and I did my part.

I am leaving the Libertarian Party for the same reasons that everyone sooner or later leaves the Libertarian Party. Parties that want ideological purity can have it — but only at the cost of literally everything else. That’s always been the Libertarian Party’s problem, and so I’m done with them.

Inside the big two parties, we have a signal for when one party becomes the opposite of what you stand for: You join the other party. That’s what I’m doing now.

I choose to be a Democrat because people have repeatedly congratulated me about Trumpism, and because Trumpism is essentially the opposite of what I stand for. (I have no great love for Clintonism either, but at this point, Clintonism is the least of anyone’s worries.)

I’ll put anti-Trumpism into a more positive form in a future essay, but for now I want to send a clear message that I am in the opposition. Having a legitimate opposition, and a smart, healthy one, is an essential feature of any functioning democracy, but especially one headed by a populist. It’s roughly the same role that I filled as a registered Republican while Obama was in office, and it’s a role that I enjoy and take strength from.

It’s hard to deny, though, that I feel more urgency in this case. I have the strong sense that we are leaving ordinary political times, and it frightens me.

On the bright side, I look forward to being understood differently by a different audience. Again and again, I have found lately that when I give my libertarian message to Republicans, they hear only “lower taxes, end gun control,” and after that they stop listening. I would like those things, but it has lately become difficult for a libertarian to work with Republicans on nearly anything else.

Republicans aren’t even good on trade policy anymore. They aren’t even good on property rights. The George W. Bush administration showed that the central state grows unchecked under Republican control. And it doesn’t cost less, because Republicans have made no real progress at controlling spending. Republicans have taken a serious turn for the worse on immigration and on criminal justice. Trump’s own views on the Drug War are perhaps not so bad, but he’s surrounding himself with rabid drug warriors.

These are key issues for me. They are why I care about politics in the first place. And for all of them, the Republican Party can’t possibly be my home.

I fear that libertarians give all this their blessing by remaining in the GOP, or by fleeing to a Libertarian Party that’s popularly regarded as the Republican Party’s sanitarium. Neither of these will do.

Instead, I’m ready to start having some new conversations, even as I give what amounts to the same old message. I will give my Democratic friends grief about their preferred tax policies, and about gun control, and a few other things besides, but I don’t think that these are margins on which our freedom is most in danger right now. Others are more pressing.

I’m ready to talk, for example, about press freedom and civil liberties.

I’m ready to talk about the freedom of religion, and I’m ready to unite with a coalition to guarantee that Muslim Americans have the same freedoms as Methodists.

I’m ready to talk about how to be sincerely proud of free trade, rather than whispering about it in secret. We libertarian Democrats can help our party a lot here, I think.

I’m ready to resist every restrictive immigration policy coming down the road. I’m ready to talk about designing a system that will not force immigrants to choose between obeying U.S. law and feeding their families. We and they both deserve better.

I’m ready to talk about how to fight racism, because widespread private racism always becomes a danger to liberty sooner or later. I find that the policing of speech, particularly on college campuses, has made the matter worse, and we need to try something else, something that preserves the American tradition of free speech and free inquiry, while making it clear that those traditions are not just a cover for racism.

I’m ready to talk about drug decriminalization, and I don’t just mean marijuana.

I’m even ready to talk about drug policy federalism. Perhaps you have only understood “federalism” as a dog whistle for segregation. But federalism is as federalism does, and we might be able to use it as a force for good.

And finally, I’m ready to stop chiding Democrats about the death of the antiwar left under Obama. If they will have me, I am ready to be the antiwar left.

All of these are libertarian causes, at least as I understand that term. All of them are in my view completely unwelcome in today’s Republican Party. All will get a fairer hearing among the Democrats.

Among my colleagues at the Cato Institute, there are libertarian Republicans. There are libertarian Libertarians. And now there’s at least one libertarian Democrat. In a better world than ours, the adherents of classical liberalism would feel at home everywhere, and that’s the world I’m trying to build. You’re welcome to join me if you’d like.

And now some messages for particular groups.

If you are a Democrat, and if you are reading this in disgust: I own every bad name you call me. I am a carpetbagger. I am an unrepentant capitalist tool. I will betray you one day in the name of ideals that you reject. Eventually I hope to sit across the aisle from you and give you hell. But we have to build that day before it happens.

If you are a Republican, and if you are reading this in disgust: You’re in a strange spot right now. The whole world is watching, and I am your loyal opposition: I am loyal to the institutions of my country, and I am opposed to you.

Yet in a sense, you need us way more than we need you: No democracy can be called legitimate without an opposition that is active, independent, and free. How you treat us is therefore a measure of your own legitimacy. Be careful how you use your power.

If you are a Libertarian, and if you are reading this in disgust: I have not left you. I have not left your ideas, at least. I pursue them in another venue, nothing more, and I have gone there to send a message that is also your message. If I had the space, I might argue that your first and truest home is on the left. But that’s another discussion entirely.