The saving remnant

Before the election I worried that Clinton's victory would enable the Left to continue to ignore the consequences of its intellectual bankruptcy, failure to engage with the real problems facing our civilization, and insular self-satisfaction.

Well, Clinton didn't win, but that didn't make any difference to my prediction. The Left really does seem intent on ignoring these things, focusing, instead, on our new President's (many and real) personal failings, a total nonstarter as either a political move or a coherent philosophical position.

I continue to find the fate of Washington's Initiative 732, where social justice activists helped defeat a sensible-seeming carbon tax proposal because it didn't provide enough direct payoffs to their constituencies, instructive. Sometimes, the real question we ask about a big problem should be "how can we solve it?" and not "how can we use it to bludgeon our cultural enemies?" Self-righteousness always seems to triumph over incremental problem solving.

I'm worried that, seemingly envying Putin's Russia its vibrant cultural life, booming economy, and inclusive politics, the Trump administration will settle us with a crony capitalist system that looks superficially like the wealth-and-freedom-creating system we are used to, but is actually something quite different.

Instead I see essays on cultural appropriation, an issue that shows how far past its sell-by date American progressivism has gotten. But I certainly can't do any better on that topic than Fredrik deBoer's no one has the slightest idea what is and isn’t cultural appropriation, and deBoer is far leftier than I.

Fortunately, I am reading a lot of really sensible people, from the usual Marginal Revolution to a couple of recent discoveries that seem to be in my weird little political segment, Bleeding Heart Libertarians and The Niskanen Center.

Real thought is out there. We need to cling together, while keeping in mind how easily the sensible middle gets ground between the upper and nether millstones of two ferociously competitive teams. Being sensible has not usually been a particularly successful political movement.