[…] the administration’s heavy reliance on drones and kill teams abroad symbolizes our fear at home that, today, the maintenance of order anywhere, at any time, requires the use of brute force.
This sentiment is especially painful given the general political realignment of Americans toward a more libertarian set of ideals. Yet it prevails — leaving the electorate more favorable toward cracking camped-out skulls even as support for the legalization of pot tops 50% for the first time since polling began.
Today’s stewing new breed of pessimistic populists are increasingly permissive on social issues — from abortion to immigration to sex and drugs — while growing increasingly dismissive of those whose choices lead to costly disruptions of basic social order.
From the perspective of communitarians left and right, pessimistic populism is a crisis all its own — a scary indicator of the collapse of the cultural institutions that have long drawn us out of our narrow self-interest and into cooperation for a common good.
[…] But beneath the apparent selfishness of the dog-eat-dog mentality that could caricature pessimistic populism lurks a grim determination to preserve the small portion of the social contract that actually can be preserved.