This is not about ideology. If people trusted elites and institutions they defend to look out for them, in a non-ideological sense, the breakdown of our systems would have been mitigated or confined. The fact that it is so sweeping is due to a generation of elites who didn’t do their jobs well, or pretended things weren’t their job for too long.
We have breakdown, chaos, and upheaval in our politics today not because the people are “insane”, as Rauch writes, but because they are sane. They know the leadership class which held power for the past generation has not looked out for them. Don’t blame a people for turning on elites who thought they knew better but proved over and over that they didn’t. It is thoroughly rational to want something else instead. Even if that something else turns out not to deliver either, at least you know it’s not the same as what’s failed.
If you disagree with Rauch, there is a mountain of evidence on your side. If you agree with Rauch, you’re left arguing that what Washington really needed was more Eric Cantors. And that, my friends, is truly insane – the sort of desperate argument one only advances if you can’t make sense of what you’re seeing in America’s politics. It’s an emotional argument, an argument from fear.
Calm down, Jonathan. Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.