The Stump

Federalism Frees Us to Flourish

Although it may seem counterintuitive, freedom is actually enhanced, not curtailed, when states have the right to experiment, subject to important federal constitutional limitations, with social and economic polices till they do right by their citizens.

Seeking a President for the End of the World

For brokenists, the new regime is not just a matter of garden-variety regulatory capture, and “the rules” are just as often a symptom of the problem as a solution to it. This “merger of state and corporate power” comes, like all regimes, with a legitimating ideology, a cultural vision. And there seem to be quite a lot of rules involved in that vision. It’s technocratic, to say the least.

We Could Do Worse…

Weak parties are susceptible to extreme candidates who take advantage of party weakness to run shallow, populist campaigns. These people seem fun. They appeal to our political id, mostly in the way they make fun of everyone who opposes them, and encourage us to fester in our (often reasonable) frustrations and anger.

The Falconer

A skeptic’s take on such a variety of experience would chalk it up as privileged gonzo larkishness or chest-beating thrill-seeking—an understandable take, one likely partly true. But there was more to it. For I’ve not acknowledged the murders of his father and uncle; the psychic fallout in the family afterward; and his years-long struggle with drug addiction. That Mr. Kennedy had such an appetite for life despite these harrowings is considerable.

Learning to Read in 2023

Why does my third child, my little son whom I mention above, need me to be in physical contact with him while he reads? Because it helps him feel warm and safe, I imagine, and so he is not as afraid of making mistakes. Alternative educators recognized this in the classroom decades ago: that children read better with an adult’s arm around them, or while piled onto soft pillows with a couple of friends.

Modernity is a Dirty Diaper

Modernity has become permanently liquid; it no longer seeks solid replacements to the pre-modern world but finds greater value in transience, not just of institutions and things, but of human relationships too.

Fly Fishing and Henry Bugbee

We can never ossify the world because it is always moving and changing like the river. Yet we can open ourselves to this ever fluctuating movement. This is manifested in the moment when the angler, fly, and fish are suspended together, held as with the fragile tension of water molecules. This is that something.

Democracies Need Shared Literature

Before we totally condemn the Athenians as selfish, entertainment-addicted bad citizens—which, to be fair, they sometimes (or often?) were, just like us—it is worth considering what such shared democratic spaces of entertainment facilitated. And a related question to consider: What might we, as a democracy, gain if we had something similar?

Alexis de Tocqueville and American Exceptionalism: Exegeting Tocqueville

Whether America ever was or is exceptional is a matter for further discussion; but Tocqueville’s own estimate of America in the early nineteenth century was mixed at best and negative at worst. He obviously wished that democracy had produced a more learned and refined culture than it had in America; and he was quick to argue that democracy would likely produce better fruit in better (French?) circumstances.

Map-Burning

My point is not to get lost in conventional debate here. But seeking to heal from the culture war, I want to uncover the bodies of my neighbors, which industrial stories kick in the face, deform, and then at election time bury beneath the red-blue map. Aligned with my neighbors, I want to stand in a place off that map, outside those stories.