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The Twilight of the Intelligentsia

The Twilight of the Intelligentsia

I promise, I didn’t time this sequence of posts so that this one would come out the morning after one of the most bitterly fought midterm elections in memory.  Nor, of course, did I have advance notice of the outcome, though it wasn’t a surprise to me that the much-ballyhooed “blue wave” would flop as badly as it did.  In place of the sweeping rejection of Trump’s presidency that the Democratic Party called for, the usual first-term midterm reaction that brings the minority party back into power in Congress gave the Dems only a thin majority in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile they lost badly in the Senate, where an expanded Republican majority can continue to ratify Trump’s judicial nominees and block any attempt to use the constitutional mechanism of impeachment to remove him from office.

In the weeks ahead we’ll doubtless see any number of attempted analyses of what did or didn’t happen in the midterm elections, spinning an equivocal election to support one or the other side of a savagely divided electorate. Popcorn vendors will have plenty of business as those of us not committed to either of these two contending forces watch the posturing from a comfortable distance. Back beyond the momentary passions of politics and personalities move broader forces, and it’s important to try to sense those now, as the smoke of the election clears and it becomes possible, for those who are willing, to look past the present moment and catch some glimpse of the deeper cycles of history in which elections play a transient role.

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