Tyranny of Fear

It must be really frightening to think that you live in a country whose government is so fragile that the election of a president from the mainstream of the opposing party leads to tyranny, or to think that the only thing that stands between America becoming a “third world oligarchy” or “Baghdad circa 2003” is the outcome of a labor dispute in Wisconsin.

For myself, I sleep pretty well at night because I think that the American constitutional order is fairly durable. While we do face long-term problems (the deficit, climate change), the U.S. is not about to collapse due to the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s state employees, or lack thereof.

Whenever I get too upset about some policy idiocy that the other side is engaging in, I remind myself of Ross Douthat’s little bit of wisdom here:

“However wrongheaded you believe your ideological opponents to be, laying “all that ails the world” at their feet represents an absurd politicization of human affairs, and a spur to the most self-deluding sort of utopianism. After all, what ultimately ails the world is its inherent imperfectibility — its fallen character, if you’re a Christian; its irreducible complexity and tendency toward entropy and dissolution, if you’re a strict materialist. This is true on all the great issues of the day. No matter how many lives may be saved or lost because of health care policy, no lives will be saved forever, and every gain will be an infinitely modest hedge against the wasting power of disease and death. No matter the wisdom of our politicians or the sagacity of their economic advisors, no policy course can guarantee universal wealth or permanent economic growth. And no matter the temperature of our discourse, the state of our gun laws, or the quality of our mental health care, nothing human beings do can prevent the occasional madman from shooting up a crowded parking lot.

Particularly in a liberal democracy like ours, where the range of policy disagreement is relatively narrow by historical standards and nobody’s actually a Nazi or a theocrat, the beginning of political wisdom is the recognition that only a small fraction of existing human suffering can possibly be relieved by voting in one party or the other.”


About irreparabiletempus

God have mercy on me, a sinner.
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One Response to Tyranny of Fear

  1. Pingback: Killing American Citizens Without Due Process | Irreparabiletempus's Blog

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