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[Easy Chair]

On Courage


As of this writing, we are still about three months away from the first vote of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination—­and already “our side” seems set to tear itself apart. Tempers are frayed, charges are flying, and there is much talk about how none of the declared candidates will do.

Part of this is life under Trump. The president is like a low-pressure system that never lifts. The sheer weight of his presence hanging over us—tweeting out ignorant pronouncements, denying reality, subjecting us to his bottomless insecurities—­is enough to make us rub our temples and flex our jaws for relief.

The intraparty tension is due to a candidate selection process that is head-smackingly stupid even for the Democrats. Massive debates put the four or five serious contenders onstage with some half dozen hecklers eager to savage the front-runner dramatically enough to make the next news cycle. Even worse are the media interlocutors, who seem mostly interested in promoting themselves: brand over country. Beyond that, many of them take an accountant’s-­eye view of everything, preoccupied with how much a program costs and unconcerned with what it’s worth.

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