from Kevin Williams in National Review, A Built-In Bias toward Peace
There is much that is wrong with American government, and with the American method of selecting officeholders. There are many good people in Congress, in federal agencies, and serving the Trump administration. But if that’s your best, your best won’t do. We give them goofy incentives, impossible demands (“Let’s spend like Democrats, tax like Republicans, and balance the budget!” “Let’s turn Afghanistan into a stable, liberal democracy —but not if it takes more than three weeks!”), and, at the moment, expect them to operate in a political culture dominated by malice and stupidity. But the basic American constitutional architecture is awfully good, and has shown itself robust in the face of many perils. It outlived Woodrow Wilson’s dream of adopting the equivalent of martial law as an economic-organizing principle, it outlived Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician autocracy, and it will, God willing, outlive the sundry demagogues and aspiring caudillos of our time.
One of the reasons for the success of the American order is that it keeps the mob at bay, and one of its great failures has been its inability to keep the federal government from arrogating the powers of the state in matters that are not inherently federal, thereby foreclosing opportunities for informal national compromise and the emergence of a stable modus vivendi in the matter of divisive social issues. And that, of course, is one of the reasons for that poisonous political culture: If Wyoming has to do things the same way as New Jersey, then the battle over federal power — and especially the metastatic power of the ever-more-princely presidency — must be understood by partisans and culture warriors as existential. That, and not the endangered state of what remains of American federalism, is what most deeply ails the body politic.