Who Killed Consensus?

(Leah Millis/Reuters)
The two major tribes of American life cannot achieve widespread consent to a policy consensus during a time of acute national emergency.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W ithout consensus, there is no consent — that’s almost a redundancy: The two words come from the same Latin root meaning “agree,” but each has its own special role in the political lexicon. We speak of “consensus” as a generally agreed-upon fact or set of facts, often with the qualifier “expert” or the mock-qualifier “elite,” but we consent to a course of action, a regime, or a state, which can deploy force legitimately only with “the consent of the governed.” That’s Liberal Democracy 101.

When you lose the ability to forge consensus, you begin to forfeit consent, and effective governance becomes

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