Exciting politics are bad politics

If you refuse to give much weight to team solidarity, popular front exhortations, and “binary choice” diatribes, it’s easy to find inconvenient truths all over the place: The president is unfit for the job. Joe Biden has lost a step—or several. Nancy Pelosi is hyperpartisan. The Russian collusion story peddled by the most strident Democrats and journalists was wrong. But some claims that Trump and his campaign has behaved indefensibly viz a viz Russia have ample merit. The Republican party isn’t suffused with racism, but there are too many racists on the right and too few Republicans are willing to say so. Antifa is a real problem, and too few Democrats want to admit it publicly for the incandescently dumb reason that they think it would help Trump. Right-wing goon squads are a real problem, and too few Republicans want to say so for the incandescantly dumb reason that they think it would hurt Trump. Republican Voters Against Trump is a legitimate project, even if you disagree with it. The Lincoln Project is largely a Democratic fundraising operation, even if you agree with it. I could do this all day—because it’s kind of fun and because whatever price I’m supposed to pay for not following the party line I’ve already paid, and then some.

Over the last four years or so, truth has been my psychological safe harbor. I’m not claiming I have a monopoly on it. I know I don’t. All the blind men feeling the elephant were wrong, but none were liars. What I mean is that telling the truth as I see it has been the rule that has gotten me through all of this (along with friends, coworkers, family and—if it’s not too pandering—you Dear Readers). It’s entirely possible the truth I see is wrong. It’s possible that my aversion to populism, crudity, and the false security of crowds has ill-served me and the crowds are right. But all I can do is truthfully say that that’s not how I see it. I’ve been quoting this line from Solzhenitsyn for a while now: “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”