Nothing works, it seems. The economy, politics, the media, government, higher education—everything is broken. Those essential elements of society no longer work, and we don’t expect them to work. Brokenness is the new normal. The only thing that works—the only thing that’s rewarded—is cynicism.

Everyone has a theory about where the cynicism comes from. The Left blames big corporations, racist cops, Fox News—everyone and everything that it associates with privilege and abuse of power. The system is corrupt, they say; tear it down and start over. Build a progressive paradise atop the rubble of this failed experiment called America. It’s a philosophy rooted in suspicion about the Founding and expressing doubt about the meaning and validity of the Constitution.

The Right blames the liberal media, the radicals in the academy, the censors at Facebook, and President Obama—the forces of so-called “progress.” The system is corrupt, they say; let’s turn back the clock and start over. Correct the mistakes. Bring back the jobs. Bring back the culture. Make America great again. It’s a political stance skeptical of change, hostile to cultural relativism and ill-defined notions of justice, pessimistic about the abilities of experts and professionals to solve tough problems.