|Buster Keaton in James W. Horne's College, 1927, via.|
Americans, no matter how secular, tend to think of themselves as citizens of a nation with a special divine providence, one that may take wrong turns but always finds its way back, one in which justice always prevails in the end.I know. We call it exceptionalism, and mock it in others, and yet I for one keep believing in that contract between the Madisonians and the Hamiltonians as if it conferred some kind of magic power on the polity, in defiance of the evidence.
Yet it doesn’t have to be true. Maybe the historic channels of reform — speech and writing that changes minds, political activism that eventually changes who has power — are no longer effective. Maybe America isn’t special, it’s just another republic that had its day, but is in the process of devolving into a corrupt nation ruled by strongmen.Well, look at that. I guess we did denial on Tuesday night, "They can't win in Wisconsin! They can't win in Pennsylvania!" and I was certainly on for anger on Wednesday and bargaining on Thursday, and here we are at depression: it's occurred to me, maybe also to some readers of the same age as I am, that I'll die without seeing a Supreme Court that effectively protects civil rights or reads the Constitution without the self-imposed blinkers of the Scalia hermeneutic, or realization of the dreams of universal health care and free tertiary education and a national pension system that doesn't starve people. I'll die without the sense that it will ever happen. While the damage to our planet from ungoverned carbon consumption becomes increasingly irreversible.
But I'll definitely be angry again later this afternoon, and probably bargaining some more on the weekend, so don't be worried. And I'm definitely not getting to acceptance any time soon.