Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution, a dear friend and one of the nation’s most insightful and thoughtful political observers, explains in a provocative Atlantic piece “How American Politics Went Insane.” The short answer, more fully elaborated in Jonathan’s earlier e-book, is disintermediation—that is, the demolition of political structures and mechanisms that, in a system of divided powers, make politics work and enable “middlemen” and power brokers to protect the system against crazies. Primaries and campaign finance reforms have weakened the parties. The destruction of the seniority and committee system has disabled Congress from legislating even when a (latent) consensus does exist. “Open government” reforms have constricted the space that is needed for political bargaining. The “pork” that once greased the system has mostly disappeared. Over time, the institutional immune system has collapsed. The ensuing chaos has produced further public disaffection and populist agitation against “the establishment.” It’s a feedback loop, and not a good one.
Over the last decade or so, the gay rights movement made a politically canny adjustment: It began featuring lesbian and gay families who wanted to enter the American mainstream, and the outré postmodernists were less heard from. By outré postmodernists I mean those whose views were unlikely to play well in Peoria.
The foremost political theory lecture series in not just Washington, D.C. but in the country presents a civil, thought-provoking, and above all honest debate over gay marriage—between two openly gay men.
Libertarian Justin Raimondo rejects gay marriage, arguing that heterosexual marriage is an oppressive norm that gay men should reject. Marriage is not just about two people but requires an official/clergy, a government license, and witnesses. He would bypass all this and allow erotic relations to flourish. Jonathan Rauch, a leading conservative public policy scholar, would strengthen marriage by extending that essential institution to gays. This refounded notion of marriage would make both gays and heterosexuals more aware of their mutual responsibilities.