Here are a couple of quotations to begin the week:
H. L. Mencken loved the spectacle of democracy, and conceded the American system “provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind.”
Now consider this thoughtful line, which suggests why, in the public sphere, we don’t traffic in facts:
“The facts suggest that Mrs. Clinton is more likely to abuse liberties than Mr. Trump,” James Freeman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, summer of 2016. “America managed to survive Mr. Clinton’s two terms, so it can stand the far less vulgar Mr. Trump.”
Politics is a realm of beliefs, imagination, opinion, premonition, duplicity, dissimulation, chicanery, persuasion, perception, force, and above all – for successful politicians – judgment. It is form of warfare, or a type of conflict that substitutes for war. It has little use for facts. Politicians who rely on facts do not stay with us long. That is not to say a flimflam man like Donald Trump succeeds in politics primarily because he practices flimflammery, though his style might appear part of his success. It only means politicians do not find facts useful to them, any more than a writer would find a hammer useful.
I do not need to add, politics infuses every part of life, especially life lived with other people. Thus we probably care more about facts than we should.