I flew back to Washington late last night, and got to enjoy the relative novelty of a tarmac boarding in Charlotte onto our small plane:

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Elizabeth Bruenig has a compelling piece in the Washington Post that’s partly a reflection on American politics and partly a reflection on the necessity of honesty and trust in human affairs:

In American life, politics unfolds almost entirely in a language of lies, and people know when they’re being lied to — and they hate it. …

The reason for all the lying is, at least in part, nonpartisan, and it has to do with the limitations of classical liberalism, meaning the philosophy that underlies our entire system of government. Because liberal democracies aim to be tolerant and inclusive of multiple conflicting versions of the good, they have to find a way for people with vast philosophical differences to talk to each other intelligibly about politics. So we have a language of public reason, as political theorist John Rawls called it, which is a rhetorical universe in which we supply reasons for our political desires that don’t really have anything to do with what we believe or want — or at least, they’re not the primary reasons for what we want. Instead, we supply reasons that we think will be persuasive to people who don’t necessarily have anything in common with us philosophically. …

Politicians are bought and suborned in ways they won’t admit, and ideologically committed in ways they find it difficult or inadvisable to talk about in public. The result is that we all know we’re constantly navigating a web of lies and misrepresentations that possibly have a relationship with the truth and possibly don’t. …

What’s needed, when one political faction honestly intends to understand whether a member of an opposing political faction is guilty of a nigh-impossible-to-prove — but extremely serious — allegation of sexual misconduct, is trust. Each side has to trust that the other wouldn’t advance a scurrilous allegation for dishonest reasons, and likewise that their adversaries wouldn’t ignore a genuine allegation for dishonest reasons. Otherwise, the entire thing is an exercise in brute force: The truth is inaccessible; all that matters is which side has the power to win the day.