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I have avoided writing about current politics for several reasons. Firstly, because the situation so quickly changes, nothing you write today may hold for tomorrow. Secondly, because it is so touchy a subject, you risk alienating your reader for minor offenses that can be taken as index markers for major disagreements. Thirdly, because politics is such a minor part of what makes a difference in our individual lives; so many other things are more important and more interesting.

Nevertheless, the chaos of the current American situation calls for some small clarification. Arguments muddy when thinking is unclear.

To begin, there is the issue of Donald Trump, which is a great squirt of squid juice, obscuring more lasting problems. It is easy to make fun of the Great Pumpkin, he practically satirizes himself. While he has fervent supporters, it is hard to know exactly what he stands for, because his words are so vague in application, no matter how blunt in expression. It is always possible to assume he is your ally, because you only listen to those words that honk your horn. Is he conservative? Conservatives value free trade. Is he pro-business? Business has told him they need an immigrant workforce. What does he stand for besides ignorance?

He is an obfuscation on the surface, a chaos beyond that because, of course, he has no ideology, other than Trumpism. It is not his supposed conservatism that I object to; there have been many thoughtful conservatives. Trump is not one of them; he isn’t even a conservative at all. What scares the bejeezus out of me about him is that he is so clearly unbalanced mentally. The word Andrew Sullivan has used is “bonkers,” and that can hardly be improved for accuracy. The constant wheezing about his vote count, poll numbers, inauguration crowd, all spouted against obvious and visual evidence, is a clear indication that he is unmoored from reality.

Then, there are the speeches, barely in English. They are really just sentence fragments thrown together with unattached adjectives. Yuge, sad, unbelievable, disgusting. They, as Philip Roth has counted them, are constructed from a vocabulary of a mere 77 words, reused and rearranged ad hoc. They jump around from topic to topic with little or no segue. And then, they are filled with things that are demonstrably untrue. One watches over an over when Trump says he never said this or that, followed by the videotape of him saying exactly what he now says he never said. Does he not know that his words have been recorded?

It cannot be easily said that Trump is a liar, because a liar knows what he is saying is untrue. Others manipulate statistics to make their arguments; Trump just pulls stuff out of his ass. Evidence is irrelevant.

Further, he uses these exanus pronouncements to support his chaotic policy pronouncements, which tend to be simple-minded in the extreme. Problems are usually complex and systemic; his solutions are simple-minded and blunt as a cudgel. He shows contempt for subtlety. If the problem is illegal immigration, his solution is not to consider the cause of the immigration, but to build a wall, despite the fact that the majority of the illegal immigration does not cross the desert border, but flies into our airports. My favorite joke about the wall: “Wall — cost: $12 billion; ladder — cost: $35.”

But this is not meant to be a jab at Trump, who is clearly unhinged, not very bright, not at all subtle, and basically a bully at heart. It is too easy to target him; he is a joke. A dangerous joke, who may very well destroy the world at the push of a button, but a joke nonetheless.

No, what I want to point out is that there is, beyond Trump, a basic misunderstanding of the political divisions in the country.

The divisions are very real. Between urban and rural, between liberal and conservative, between Republican and Democrat. But I want to point out that these may overlap, like Venn diagrams, the dipoles are not identical. We too often confuse conservative with Republican and liberal with Democrat. There may be overlap, but more important, their goals are different.

There is a clear difference between liberal and conservative. As they are defined nowadays (very different from when they originated and when conservatism favored a strong central government), the conservative now seeks a smaller central government and the liberal, an activist government working for the betterment of its citizens. The one favors the individual, the other, the community. The one is exclusionary, the other inclusive. And it is clear that as the political scene is currently deployed, Republicans tend to favor conservatism and Democrats tend to the liberal, although Republicans are more extremely weighted to the far-end of conservatism than the Democrats are to the left wing.

But, such thoughts of political philosophy are largely irrelevant to the actualities of politics. One should never conflate Republican with conservative, nor Democrat with liberal. The aims of ideology are to promote a world view and an action plan to enforce that world view. But that is not the aim of the Republican party. Certainly, it will use conservative ideas to further its ends when it can, but its primary driving aim is the accrual and preservation of power. This is central and should never be forgotten: Republicans will do whatever they need to to gain and keep power. Democrats have a similar, but weaker drive. Many Democrats join the party because they think they can make the world a better place. Some Republicans do that, too, but the aim of the party on the whole is not the improvement of society, but the exercise of power. It is King of the Hill on a hemispheric playing field.

This is not to say that most Republicans don’t believe, by and large, that conservative policies would help the nation, but that whether or not they do is secondary to the accretion of political power. Hence, the contorted, serpentine Congressional districts, gerrymandered into silliness in order to ensure Republican supremacy. (Yes, Democrats have done the same — in fact, they invented the procedure in the 19th century — but they were pikers compared to the modern attempt to engineer a “permanent Republican majority.”) Hence, the bald-faced hypocrisy of choosing sides on an issue solely on the basis of whether a Republican or Democrat is offering it for a vote (as with the Republican-designed Affordable Care Act, which became an unswallowable “disaster” when recycled by the Obama administration. Hence, the use of arcane Senate or House rules, or the threat of the “nuclear option,” when it favors them, and outrage when used against them.

And it is why Republicans were gulled into supporting Trump when it looked like he might win the White House back for the party, despite the problem of Trump espousing ideas contrary to longstanding Republican policies. Trump is, after all, not a Republican, except in name, and not a conservative, as it is usually defined. He is sui generis, a propounder of Trump now, Trump tomorrow, Trump forever.

One area in which Trump and Republican world views agree is that the primary lens through which to view policy is economic. Money is the gravity that holds that world together. Whether it’s tax cuts, deregulation or fear of unions and a raise in minimum wage, the heart and soul of the conservative world view is money. The very idea of “running government like a business” is a consequence of this Weltanschauung. But across the world, this idea is changing. Governments are not businesses.

There is a historical storyline here. In the feudal past, with the king at the top of the pile, government was essentially a protection racket, with each level of vassalage “wetting its beak” in the next level down, and everyone feeding on the peasants. The general welfare of the populace was not even an empty platitude. As nation states developed from the Medieval sense of monarchal real estate, the idea of decent governance took hold. Since the New Deal in the U.S., and post-war in the better part of the rest of the world, governments have assumed the duty of protecting the welfare of its populace. All through Europe, governments guarantee health care, safety, minimum living wages, shorter work weeks and longer vacations. The U.S. has resisted such things. For Republicans (distinct from conservatives, who also have many social issues) and Trump see the world through dollar-tinted glasses. It is a reversion to the Medieval model, where all wealth floats upward like a bubble in the champagne. And it is power that guarantees the income. The goal of the Republican party is not so much the institution of conservative ideas, rather it is the use of conservative ideas to protect and increase individual wealth.

The problem is, that while money can make life easier to navigate, money cannot make life worth living. For that, you need the other aspects of life that Democrats — and most of the rest of the world — embrace. Freedom from oppression, sufficient means for living, cooperative communities, aid for the less fortunate, an even playing field for all. Among the things that make life worth living are family, love, art, religion, good health, and shared interests and shared mythology.

For Trump and the Republican party both, the world they see is transactional. It is also a zero-sum game, and the winning is all. We need to recall that when we let ourselves be gulled into arguing over conservative and liberal. Those labels are merely the masks worn in the more brutal fight over who will be the alpha dog.

Mercator map

Topo mapAn ideology is like a road map. It contains a schematized version of the world. But, it is always a simplified and distorted version. It may show the roads, or be covered with circles of topographic tree rings, or be great blotches of geological information. But it by necessity ignores a great deal of information to clarify some single small aspect.

It is hardly surprising, then, that a conservative sees a different world from a liberal; one is looking at highways and the other is looking at landforms. But this is not simply binary: The libertarian has a different map from a neocon, the religious right has yet another map, and the fiscal conservative yet another — and all call themselves, in one sense or another, conservative. The same variety can be found at every point in the political spectrum. Just consider how many spatting socialist parties join in war against each other.

geological mapAnd all of this is only the plethora of maps held by political enthusiasts. Politics, after all, is only one tiny corner of human consideration. Look at the range of literary theory, from Formalism through Structuralism to Post-structuralism, from deconstruction to neo-Marxian criticism. Each of them has its own roadmap and each ignores any tiny detail that might confuse the clarity of their ideology.

Or religion. No, let’s narrow it to Christianity. Or further, let’s narrow it to Protestant Christianity with its Methodists, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists — oh, heck, lets just look at Baptists. There are Free Will Baptists, Primitive Baptists, African-American Baptists, Landmarkism, Missionary Baptists, Fundamental Baptists, Progressive Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Sovereign Grace Baptists, Southern Baptists and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestination Baptists. And that only scratches the surface. Each is separated from the others by a map that emphasizes some single detail that serves as sufficient cause for a schism from some parent group, whose roadmap leads directly to Hell.

Treasure Island map

Treasure Island map

(This is the sticking point for Pascal’s wager: That if you don’t believe in God and he exists, you go to eternal damnation; if you do believe and there turns out not to be a God, then you are no worse off than if you didn’t believe. Therefore, said Pascal, the smart money is on believing: You have a one-in-four chance of salvation; the atheist belief has a certainty of annihilation. The fly in the ointment is this proliferation of sects. Which God do you place your wager upon? Choose wrong and, whoosh, you slide down the chute to perdition. That one-in-four bet now looks more like the state lottery.)

Mercator projection

Mercator projection

The world map most of us remember from the walls of our schoolrooms was the Mercator map, which attempted to show the oceans most accurately to aid navigation, while distorting the landmasses to accommodate that. We have become so used to the Mercator look, that any other map looks somehow “wrong.” If you take the Peters map, for instance, it looks highly ideological, as if it’s trying to make a propaganda point. Of course, it is, but so was the Mercator map. Where is Europe? Why shouldn’t China be at the center?

Gall-Peters projection

Gall-Peters projection

Try to take the globe and flatten it into a map and you are forced to distort. No way around it. The problem is that a map is not an accurate depiction of reality, but a schema, a simplified, diagrammatic visual representation.

Goode homolosine projection

Goode homolosine projection

Comedian Steven Wright once said, “I have a map of the United States … Actual size. It says, ‘Scale: 1 mile equals 1 mile.’ I spent last summer folding it. I hardly ever unroll it. People ask me where I live, and I say, ‘E6.’ ”

But even life size, the map is still flat when the world is all bumpy, and Wright’s lifesize map is still on the human scale.

Norwegian coastlineConsider the fractal nature of the Norwegian coast (as designed by Slartibartfast). How many miles of coastline is there in Norway? Depends entirely on how accurate you want to be. If you look at it as the crow flies, it is something like a thousand miles. But there are all those fjords and inlets. Add them to the calculation and you wind up with an accepted length of 25,000 miles — enough to circle the globe. But that doesn’t count the islands. Add those and you are up to 80,000 miles. But let’s lower the fractal scale: The usual numbers are calculated in a rather crude way. The fjords might be considered, but how about the river mouths leading to the fjords, the creeks feeding the rivers, the constant wavering of shoreline zigging and zagging. Look at it not at a mere human scale, but on the microscopic, and you realize that you can re-add-up the length of the coast of Norway to something like infinity. Reality is that infinity. Existence is overwhelming. So forgive me if I snort at your conservative roadmap, or your Marxist theory of history, or your prescriptive grammar.

It is no different from any other version of reality, any ideology, religion, artistic convention or psychological theory. Reality is maimed.

And so, ideology is always mistaken. Always. It cannot be otherwise.

road mapEvery ideology is based on a synoptic description of the world, a limited model of the way things are: a map. That map, whether it is the right-wing Mercator of nationalism, privatized economy, traditional marriage and organized religion, or the left-wing Peters of fair distribution of wealth, cultural tolerance, the evils of a class system and mistrust of big business – that model is always too simplistic, too limited, too rationalized, too coherent, to encompass the vast, unwieldy, incoherent, and imponderable experience of being alive.

Our lives, among the swirling trillions of stars, the millions of species of plant and animal, in the midst of an atmosphere ruled by chaos theory, with the billions of synapses in each of the billions of brains that populate this ball of dirt, are too complex to fit into any ideology. Is the standard-bearer of Progressivism a millionaire? Is the Christian conservative a secret frottagist or Republican pedophile? Is the classical scholar a fan of hip-hop?  Does the Andean priest speak Church Latin? We should never be surprised.

No ideology can grasp the shifting variety of the world: When we look for the particle, we find the wave; when we look for the wave, we find the particle.

Wrestling Sikeston, MO 1938

Stop calling it “pop culture.”

There was a time when we made the distinction between pop culture and high culture. The highbrows went to the symphony and the lowbrows went to the armory for professional wrestling. But there is no more high culture. It is defunct. We need to stop making a distinction that no longer exists.

It isn’t pop culture, it is just culture.

One of the problems is that we don’t really understand what culture is. Most people think of culture as synonymous with taste in entertainment. If some people are entertained by a Bartok string quartet, others are entertained by South Park. But neither the quartet nor the cartoon are culture: They are two tastes in entertainment.

Culture — real culture — is the software we run our society by. It is what we collectively believe is “true.” More it is the sum total of what we believe is true, turned into rules to operate by. At one time, we believed in a bearded sky-god who told us what was right and wrong. Some people still believe and they are now a “subculture” within the larger one. The larger culture now believes what it hears on Oprah or Jerry. We run our lives accordingly. We look for closure, we seek the inner Atilla the Hun and his management strategies. HHH with belt

Everything we do is based, at some level, upon culture. Whether we spank our children, allow divorce, execute criminals and outlaw abortion. It is all based on culture, and culture all based on what we collectively think is true. At a time such as now, what we believe is rather jumbled. It is not coherent or unified. Religion becomes a buffet menu of attractive options. There is not a single unified belief system. The closest thing we have is the widely held belief that all cultures should be respected. But such a belief, at its heart, acknowledges the absence of a single believable system.

So, the argument isn’t between so-called high culture and low culture. It’s all culture. But, much worse, what we’re developing is a system of two opposing cultures — two vision of what each side believes is “true.”

One side calls itself “conservative,” although that is really just a convenient handle — it isn’t really conservative. It is a primarily rural culture, insular and cut-off from the rest of the world and the time it lives in. And, what is more, happy to be so cut off. It eyes the rest of the world with suspicion, even hate. Like the dragon in his cave, with his arms circling his horde, and scowling at anything outside in the sunlight.

The other culture is more cosmopolitan, but not necessarily more intelligent. It tends to believe in the goodness of humanity and the brotherhood of man, forgetting that brotherhood is Cain and Abel. It is more open to progress, but doesn’t always recognize good progress from bad ideas.

If one side is hard and miserly, the other is soft and gushy.

A curse on both your houses.

(One is forced to accept that the ironbound statistical truth that fully half the American populace has an I.Q. below average. It takes only one person with an I.Q. only one point above average to join and make a majority in this so-called democracy. And if you’ve ever met anyone with an I.Q. of 100 — the midpoint and the average — you know that is no great shakes. Overall, humans are just dumb monkeys.)

Anyway, these are two immiscible cultures, and the fact that Congress seems unable to compromise derives from the two cultures, and not from mere policy disagreements. Two umwelts, two completely different understanding of the nature of the world.

And both sides claim pop culture: that messy, energetic, imbecilic, entertaining system of rock-and-roll politics and television theology. It’s just that on one side the television theology comes from Kenneth Copeland, and on the other side it comes from Oprah.

In Victorian times, the symphony and ballet were seen as truer than the dime novel and music-hall comedy. The hoity-toity ran society according to the standards they learned from Tennyson, Carlyle or John Ruskin. The hoi-polloi followed along, reading crime stories in the popular press or sentimental novels. Christopher Daniels flying leap

The new bifurcation of taste and culture is not so vertical. Instead, everything is horizontalized; nobody is any better (or in this view, smarter, or wiser, or more fitted to solve a problem) than anyone else.

The old bifurcation is dead. It was a legacy of those awful Victorians. The last vestige of it is the tails and white tie our symphony conductors wear, and the gowns and dinner jackets symphony patrons wear to the concert hall.

But let’s face it. The symphonies are all near bankruptcy all across the nation. Art museums attempt more and more dumbed-down populist exhibits, hoping to boost attendance.

In a way, they are both irrelevant to the new split.

So, roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

"Peaceable Kingdom" by Edward Hicks

“Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks

We have a two-party system in this country, but until recent decades, it wasn’t always easy to tell them apart. Southern conservatives tended to be Democrats and Northern liberals were just as likely to be Republicans.

In the old days, the parties were more like clubs, each with a full range of ideologies represented in their membership. When Eisenhower’s name came up for president before the 1952 elections, he could have run comfortably in either party. Sure, the Republicans were a wealthier club and tended to think kindly of big business and leather furniture. Democrats were always a little more scruffy.

”I’ve never been a member of any organized political party,” Will Rogers said. ”I’m a Democrat.”

The current trend, however, is to understand the parties as standing for ideologies.

But what those ideologies are has been harder to pinpoint. After all, the people calling themselves conservatives are no longer for conserving anything. Conservatives used to believe in the status quo; liberals wanted change.

Nowadays, the conservatives are calling for a radical agenda. That is what they used to accuse liberals of wanting.

The problem is that we have defined the two points of view wrongly. They are not merely conservative vs. liberal. In fact, the specific ”litmus test” issues raised by them are fairly recent. Those issues — welfare reform, reduced taxes and prayer in school on the so-called ”conservative” side and gender equity, racial equality and food labeling on the liberal side — are not beliefs held in a vacuum, but represent a deeper difference in how the two sides understand the world.

Underneath the specific issues there are deeper tendencies: Government redress of social inequity and regulation of powerful entities to protect the consumer and environment on the one side and smaller government and individual responsibility on the other.

Those competing world views can best be understood as the view of the lions and that of the lambs.

The lions are in charge of their lives. They do what they want when they want to do it. Food is there for the taking and they are king of all they survey. It is hardly surprising they value initiative.

Lions start businesses and create jobs; they provide leadership.

Ah, but the lambs flock together helplessly, blown about by fortune and foul winds. And they have a worrisome likelihood of becoming someone’s bowl of Cheerios. Initiative doesn’t have much to do with it.

In reality, the world is made up of both lambs and lions, and a sound public policy needs to accept this duality. The problems and arguments arise because Republicans create policy based on their belief that everyone is a lion. Democrats make policy believing that everyone is a lamb.

Neither will make lasting, effective policy beginning from such partial visions of human nature.

You can see the reality of the metaphor in the culture of victimhood that pervades Democratic constituency.

”I can’t succeed because X won’t let me.” Let X stand for white males, poverty, lack of self-esteem, or any of a host of bogeymen.

In each, the victim remains passive, a lamb bleating helplessly.

As for the Republicans, their rhetoric is largely a holdover from Victorian Horatio Alger books, where to be poor is to be lazy, and anyone with gumption can become a millionaire and smoke large, smelly cigars.

Neither world view alone is sufficient and true.

Lions recognize that ”empowerment” doesn’t come from committees, it comes from within. Lambs recognize that if the lion is allowed to have his way, someone will get hurt.

So Republicans hate any law that holds personal initiative in check, even when that initiative may pollute our air or enslave our populace.

And Democrats hate any law that fails to protect the helpless, even when the helpless may not need protecting.

One irony is that although most Republican movers and shakers are in fact lions, many of their constituents are helpless lambs who feel powerful by proxy, growing puff-cheeked in the fantasy of individual freedom and power.

Look at any Klan meeting in the South or any militia in Idaho and you will see a flock of losers strutting their stuff.

Concomitantly, although Democrats act as if everyone were a lamb, the party leadership is almost wholly made up of lions. At some level, they must recognize this disparity.

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t need welfare.

A lot of vitriol is thrown in the mistaken belief that Republicans or Democrats are the Great Satan who either oppresses the little guy or constrains our initiative.

As English poet William Blake would have it, “One law for the lion and the ox is oppression.”

In fact, the balance of carnivore and herbivore is a sign of ecological health.

Without a certain amount of regulation, we would have no air to breathe and no water to drink. With no regulation, what you get is Bhopal, Minimata and Chernobyl.

But too much regulation and you get a nation of faceless bureaucrats.

It is the nature of politics, as that of animals, to find its balance precariously and fitfully.

Stop-The-War-Coalition

There is so much twaddle written about politics – and even more of it shouted on cable TV – that perhaps it’s time to slow down, take a breath and cast a cold eye.

You listen to both sides of the acrid political squabbles of the past few decades, and you’d swear the survival of civilization hangs in the balance.

In part, this is only the standard-issue partisan politics. No different now between Republicans and Democrats than it was between Federalists and Jeffersonians, between the Girondists and Montagnards or between factions at any time through history.

Today, the two sides are called conservative and liberal: conflicting ideologies.

The problem is, they aren’t really ideologies. They pretend to be fully-formed reasoned arguments on each side, but in fact, they are really just personality traits.

Calling them ideologies makes them seem impersonal and rational, but in fact, they are purely emotional responses to the world.

That is, the essential emotional approach one takes to living in the world.

Some people are by nature conservative, which means they mistrust change and cling to what they already know. Others are by nature adventurous and see only benefit coming from trying out new stuff.

This, more than political theory, defines the two sides. The ideology follows, not precedes.

It is why we could talk about Kremlin conservatives wanting to preserve Communism, or Chinese liberals wanting to open up the market economy. The stance isn’t ideology, but inclination.

Neither inclination is by itself good or bad. Or rather, they are both both.

Conservatism seeks to preserve the status quo. “Whatever is, is right,” said poet Alexander Pope.

Unfortunately, the historical record of conservatives has quite a bit to answer for. It was conservatives who fought civil rights tooth and nail. It was an ugly time, and their use of an argument in favor of states’ rights to cover a craven racism has forever destroyed the utility of the states’ rights argument.

Perhaps that is why conservatives now don’t seem to notice the contradiction when they oppose state laws allowing same-sex marriage, medical marijuana or assisted suicide.

It’s not an ideological argument, but a desire to keep things the way they have “always been,” although that usually means the way they were when the speaker grew up.

The call for small government is the same: We want the government off our backs, unless it comes to abortion or homosexuality.

That is because, the real watch-spring of conservatism isn’t anything so high-flown as principle, but rather, a constitutional disinclination to try anything different. There is comfort in the familiar.

Yet, that mistrust of the new may sometimes be quite healthy. And sometimes, the tried-and-true is worth keeping. Not everything new is good.

Sometimes it is a fad, sometimes it is truly misguided.

For liberals have a lot to answer for, also. “I have seen the future and it works,” said liberal American writer Lincoln Steffens on visiting the Soviet Union in 1921. He was referring to Lenin’s Soviet Union, where, during the time Steffens was visiting, some 280,000 people were killed in the government-sponsored “Red Terror.” To say nothing of the between 3 million and 10 million peasants who died of starvation that year, due in part to government policy.

Talk about backing the wrong horse!

The fact is, with all this talk about ideology, we have forgotten the basic truth: Politics isn’t about ideology.

It might be hard to remember that when listening to the yammering heads on Fox News or MSNBC, each side so convinced of the purity of its views.

Politics is now, has always been, and always will be the contention of conflicting interests, and the necessary accommodations that must be made, depending on the temper of the times, the political – or physical – strength of the contending sides, the willingness to compromise, the moral persuasiveness of one side or another on an issue, and the confluence of historical forces.

We each have things we want: core beliefs, economic desires, the wish not to have a new freeway cut our neighborhood in half, or to avoid paying taxes. Some of these we’re willing to trade away, if we gain something we want more.

But one person’s wasteful government spending is another person’s crop subsidy and yet another’s government cheese.

Politics, whether local, national or international, is always a competition of interests.

It is not a fight between good and evil, pace Rush Limbaugh. In fact, there are almost always not two sides to an issue, but a dozen or more, each with something to lose or gain. We can see this multifariousness in the current splintering of the Republican party among its many factions.

If there is an evil, it is ideology, itself. It is the true Great Satan. It is ideology that builds gulags, ideology that carpet bombs, ideology that gasses Jews and exterminates Indians, blows up Iraqi markets or Hindu temples. It makes Robespierres, Bin Ladens, Father Coughlins.

Robespierre2

Ideology is the enemy of politics: It is the great conversation stopper.

And ideology is always mistaken. Always. It cannot be otherwise.

The reason is that every ideology is based on a synoptic description of the world, a limited model of the way things are. That model, whether it is the right-wing model of nationalism, privatized economy, traditional marriage and organized religion, or the left-wing model of fair distribution of wealth, cultural tolerance, the evils of a class system and mistrust of big business – that model is always too simplistic, too limited, too rationalized, too coherent, to encompass the vast, unwieldy, incoherent, and imponderable experience of being alive.

No ideology can grasp the shifting variety of the world: When we look for the particle, we find the wave; when we look for the wave, we find the particle.

The fact is, the world is way too diverse to be summarized in a party platform.

Ideology also posits a static, teleological end of history: When we have finally achieved everything we set out to, the world will be perfect, will run forever on the principles we have set down. That was true for Marxism, and for the National Review. Well, unfortunately, things change, time moves on. Something that may have worked in 1787 may no longer make sense (the “three-fifths rule,” or the mechanism for electing vice presidents, say), and both science and technology create new problems along with new solutions. New political processes will be needed for them. Ideology is a strait-jacket.

Panta rei,” as Heraclitus said: “Everything flows.”

That is why that politics in practice, if not in theory, will always be sausage-making. This is not a fault, but a strength of politics.