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Successful Failures

The question is whether Madison's defenses failed and the factions are inside the wire. America for a long time beat the odds but recently things have taken a turn for the worse. It is no accident that many of America's troubles have coincided with the growth of identity politics, special interest groups, foreign lobbying and corruption. If so they have spread their poison and created an American version of the "informal networks" that proved so fatal in other countries, as Madison feared.

Moreover, the American factional system operates in the worst possible way. The Clinton Foundation and private email scandal is a portrait of venality without competence. The peculiar characteristics of American factionalism have bred something singular; a phenomenon at once cunning yet stupid, both corrupt and inept. America is no longer exceptional, just another bum in the ring.  Yet while Putin can often outwit Obama (and Hillary when she was in State), the Russian cannot seem to turn anything to lasting advantage.  The outcome is a kind of impotence afflicting both sides.

2016 should have been an election charged with passion, but it is atmospherically deadening, as if many voters wished the candidates would just go away.  If the 20th century was one in which people believed government could solve all the world's problems, the 21st century is fast developing into one where government has become like the weather: chaotic, capricious and ultimately arbitrary -- something everyone talks about but no one can do anything about.

The factions have filled political discourse with entropy.  There it will remain until it settles around a new attractor. Until then, all that is left is to live out our lives in the shadow of a mysterious federal building that no intelligent life is known to inhabit, save for a lady rumored to be in periodic residence occasionally glimpsed trying to send a message on a BlackBerry before smashing it with a hammer.

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