Need something to read during lunch?
But at midnight, with everything in shadows and fog, on a night suddenly gone moonless, this is a good place to count the cost of the argument that comes from the other direction. In this campaign, for the very first time in my lifetime, in a dozen different ways, we are re-litigating in an election the issues that were decided in these shrouded hills. It began with Rick Perry, talking about secession and not laughing at all about it. It continued with Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, the latter of which has gotten rich writing meretricious potboilers about the events that took place in these fields, talking quite proudly about their devotion to state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment. (And you fans of his make no mistake about it. Crazy Uncle Liberty Ron Paul — ! — would have been rooting the other way here 150 years ago.) This impassioned rhetoric, and the deeply held belief in a philosophy so steeped in blood and disunion, has its present manifestation in the fact that the Republican ticket is committed to the notion that there simply is no such thing as a political commonwealth. We are a universe of individual entrepreneurs, revolving in our own orbits, our every success a small bit of revolution against the dead hand of The Government, a fundamental disavowal of the basic fact that The Government is, in fact, us. Of all the obtuse denialism that is marbled through Republican politics these days — denial of science, denial of the empirical, denial of simple economics — this is the denialism that has the longest and most poisonous history.