I generally don’t like amplifying counsels of despair. As I’ve written previously, optimism is less prediction or analysis as a moral posture toward the world. But I also think it is important to understand what many Democrats, liberals, opponents of President Trump of less defined ideology are feeling. Yes, there’s plenty of anger. There’s plenty of fear. But what I have listened to and noted over his years in the White House are the voices of withdrawal. To be very specific, people who find the news so bad and toxic that they are trying to make a voluntary exit from the public sphere — withdraw into work, family, hobbies. Needless to say, many of us who live politics 24/7 could probably use a bit more focus on those. But what we’re seeing here is something different and more dangerous: the way quasi-authoritarian governments constrict the public sphere, pushing people into their private worlds and away from civic engagement.
Despair and Withdrawal
February 15, 2020 1:05 p.m.
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