Friday, February 26, 2016
Tom, thanks for your latest comment. Just three quick thoughts in response:
- The reason I quoted "over the truly long run" in my previous post was that this is the language I use in concluding my piece on Justice Scalia. I meant optimism over the truly long run. And it seems to me that's consistent with the post of mine on tragedy to which you link and with our exchange.
- As to the short run, yes, you are quite right. We don't agree at all about short-run optimism. And I think Justice Scalia's jurisprudential optimism may well have been a bad bet in the short run. Indeed, I suggest that he may have recognized as much toward the end of his career.
- But set that aside. What, exactly, is the convincing case to be made for optimism about, say, American constitutional law today or the present condition of American democracy and politics? You say that if we are ironists "we might be able to open our eyes, see incongruities, go in a different direction." Believe me, I'd be delighted to move away as quickly and directly as possible from the current goat rodeo of American democratic political life, a politics and a culture that "breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria." I'd even try opening my eyes a little wider if I thought it would help. But as I've written before, you and I have somewhat different views about the political psychology of the moment. Not much has changed in 3 years to make me believe that anybody has a strong desire to "go in a different direction" as respects our common political life. To the extent they do, the proposed directions don't generally seem to me to be improvements. But again, we may disagree about this too.