Magazine December 1, 2008, Issue

Back to Basics, Ahead to Particulars

Russell Kirk in front of his home in Mecosta, Mich., November 1984 (AP Photo/Jay McNally)
Reflect on your beliefs, then explain their relevance

American elections tend to give voters mere approximations of what they want. When the public chooses between two candidates, one will win, but generally by being slightly better than the other rather than embodying the will of the people. And one will lose, but usually by being slightly less appealing than the other rather than completely failing to engage voters’ interests and imaginations. The general mood of the electorate, the peculiar features of the candidates, and the vicissitudes of the moment all play their parts in shaping voters’ choices. 

Elections therefore offer politicians and activists some crucial information, but not precise

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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