May Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: The surprising thing is how different these messages can be.
You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. To compound the metaphor: With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances. To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic.
Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals?
Not to pick too much on Kesler, who is less unwarrantedly optimistic than most conservatives. And who, at least, poses the right question: The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning.
But let us back up. One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic.
Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure.
Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. And so on and drearily on. Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything.
And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo.
Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental?
Do they get to the heart of our problems?
A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. What does Continetti propose to do about it? Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation.
But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes? What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption?
A step has been skipped in there somewhere. Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump.
I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.
Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it.The Truth of El Mozote View other pieces in "The New Yorker" By Mark Danner December 06, Tags: Central America | Latin America | El Salvador H EADING up into the mountains of Morazán, in the bright, clear air near the Honduran border, you cross the Torola River, the wooden slats of the one-lane bridge clattering beneath your wheels, and enter what was the fiercest of El Salvador's zonas.
No doubt, society is constantly changing and with the advancement of technology, people can now have a better quality of life. Just 30 years ago, we do not have most of the necessary components in existence for half of the things that are an integral part of our life today.
May Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
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