That liberals are at war with America is the evergreen cliché of our modern political life. If only it were true! Instead, since the 1980s, liberals have often given a palatable veneer to the mythologies of rugged individualism, evangelical purity and ultra-nationalist fervor driving what the journalist Thomas Frank has aptly called America’s “Great Backlash.” Ronald Reagan’s frontier mystique became the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley-style Democrats. At a time when individuals have never been more enmeshed in a social and material world beyond their control, millions of liberals have undergone their own brand of moral revival in the form of a solipsistic ethic of secular self-realization and personal wellness. Needless to say, no Syrian, Afghan or Venezuelan gives a damn whether a bomb, a coup or a crippling sanction is an expression of American Greatness or a tactical use of asymmetric force.
The new Library of America anthology of Richard Hofstadter’s writings (the first in a three-volume collection of his complete works)1 reminds us that, for better or worse, liberals once frankly assumed their “war” with “America.” From his perch at Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1942 and would teach from the late 1940s until his premature death in 1970, Hofstadter was the public demystifier of the ideas that Americans told themselves about their democracy. The consummate intellectual of what is wistfully remembered as the liberal “mid-century,” he sought to show how those ideas tended to collapse before the facts of modern government and society.
In his landmark 1948 book, The American Political Tradition, a study in the “ideology of American statesmanship,” Hofstadter equated the story of the democratic idea in the United States to a long process of unlearning. The story began when the ideals of popular government, self-help, political localism, moral purity and broad-based property ownership—the undertow of a national “consensus” in favor of individualism and capitalism—brushed up against the political and economic “bigness” (one of Hofstadter’s preferred words) of the industrial revolution. Wealthy beyond imagining and endowed with incomparable geopolitical might, but shockingly reckless in making use of both, the United States was also a modern country like any other, divided by class, made up of competing interests and peopled not by an American Adam but by a struggling multicultural mass.
The American “tradition,” then, is not so much a treasure in Hofstadter’s telling as it is a handicap on the political imagination and the resolution of modern problems. “He had not only his own love of paradox but also a strong sense for the perversity of the human species and the irregularities of conduct that this perversity engenders,” he wrote of Tocqueville, in a brief essay published in 1956. Hofstadter was looking in a mirror. He reveled in the madness of American life, which, as in all tragedies, springs from the clash between fantasy and reality. In The American Political Tradition, he does this through a series of biting and often comic vignettes of leading figures. Subtitled “And the Men Who Made It,” the book can be mistakenly read as a “Great Man” history. Rather, it tells the story of those who best articulated our national delusions.
Herbert Hoover was the self-made man par excellence, celebrated by Keynes as an American “titan” for his moderating role at the Treaty of Versailles. In the aftermath of the Great War, Hoover was instrumental in distributing economic aid to a devastated Europe; he returned home a hero and was courted by both parties. But the rest of his life was a fall from grace. Though we can only imagine the portrait that Hofstadter would have written of Reagan, Hoover is rightfully remembered as the worst president of the twentieth century. Drunk on his own rags-to-riches story, he failed to perceive that the 1929 crash, and the millions of unemployed, starving and homeless left in its wake, marked the death of a certain version of the American idea. He spent his term in the White House waiting for the recovery that could only happen if he abandoned his own creed.
In contrast with such figures, Hofstadter cautiously celebrated those who had the wherewithal to part from the national doxa. A 1959 lecture on “the economic and social philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt” revisits his characterization, from The American Political Tradition, of the 32nd president as “the Patrician as Opportunist.” The great secret of FDR’s philosophy—and therefore of his skill in governing—was that he really didn’t have one. He was driven solely by the conviction that in the depths of the Great Depression something, anything, new needed to be tried, and be damned if the “economic royalists” cried socialism.
With the American model as bankrupt today as it was in 1932, there is some satisfaction to be had from this minimal assessment of Roosevelt. In fact, Hofstadter would surely reject the latter’s recent sanctification as an idealistic forerunner to Bernie Sanders. As for Joe Biden, “opportunist” is no doubt the best word to describe a life of unscrupulous accommodation with the forces of backlash, whether on race, foreign wars or corporate power. Hofstadter, however, would point to history’s ironies and odd turns. If it can be paired with courage and experimentation in governing, a new president’s lack of imagination or vision might seem to him like a virtue, especially at a time when the country is struggling to loosen the grips of its own mythology.
Sensing the tides is one thing, however. The ability, to say nothing of the desire, to plow through interested and organized obstruction, to know how to force an outcome in a moment of stasis, drift and exhaustion is another. It is here where Hofstadter’s singular focus on the ephemeral qualities of good statesmanship becomes useless, and we’re left wondering why he was so dismissive of the motive power of popular organizing and mass movements. Perhaps he would concede that even the most slippery of opportunists might be useful so long as his feet are held to the right kind of fire.
“We are in the habit of accusing the Enlightenment of the late 17th and 18th century of being glibly optimistic, of having a dogmatic faith in progress and human perfectibility,” Hofstadter writes, in an article on the political thought that nourished the drafting of the Constitution. “I think we do the 18th century a great injustice in this respect and that if we read its texts carefully, we find that the unqualified and rash optimists were very few and that there was a great deal of very hard-headed thinking in the Enlightenment about human affairs.”
The same might be said of the long arc of American liberalism. Perhaps the central paradox of its history is that its declining fortunes have been accompanied in our period by its embrace of such an “unqualified and rash” optimism, whether on the cultural, technological and economic forces of historical change, or on the nature of democratic life and the mental and moral constitution of those who participate in it.
The main conceit of Hofstadter’s darker liberalism was that it represented a much-needed revival of the constitutional framers’ “hard-headed” thinking, applied to the problems of contemporary society. Against the backdrop of communist and fascist totalitarianism, with robber barons having brought the United States to its knees in the Great Depression, the few great liberals—among whom Hofstadter deserves pride of place—were almost chronically obsessed with the persistence of evil in even the most modern of polities. There was no doubt a good deal of analytic overreach in the period’s obsession with phrases like “mass man” or “mass society,” but they expressed a shift away from sentimental notions of an innately self-governing subject and toward the reinforcing of political and social institutions that might ward off the ever-present danger of a lapse into authoritarianism. “They did not believe in man,” he writes of the eighteenth-century political and intellectual elite, “but they did believe in the power of a good political constitution to control him.”
The central texts of this collection analyze the subterranean forces and contradictions that, Hofstadter feared, threaten to erode democracy from within. He admired Max Weber, who pointed out that even in a democracy, in which ostensibly the people are sovereign, politics is ultimately a “vocation” like any other, and rests on the division between the governed and the governors, be they intellectuals, parliamentarians or bureaucrats. For Hofstadter, the course of modern history—centralization, concentration, the movement toward “bigness”—was the endless thickening of these mediations, which makes the democratic-individualist ideal a constant tinderbox for disappointment and resentment.
At its most pathological, America’s experience of this contradiction boils over in the form of the “paranoid style,” the subject of Hofstadter’s most cited essay. The anti-Jacobin fervor of the 1790s, the freemasonry craze of the Jacksonian era and the left-wing intellectual’s anxiety over the grip of Wall Street spoke to the recurring imaginary of history and political life as an orchestrated conspiracy. We’d get only half the story, however, if we read this essay simply as a more sophisticated caricature of political extremism. Hofstadter understood political paranoia not as an incidental but as a constitutive aspect of democratic life. It expressed an inherently tragic bind: the promise of popular self-rule betrayed by government’s prosaic mixture of decision-making, interest-group peddling and compromise. “We are all sufferers from history,” he concludes, “but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, which earned Hofstadter his second Pulitzer Prize in 1964, charts the longer history of individualism’s excesses and false hopes. Hofstadter uses the term “anti-intellectualism” broadly, to describe the very human discomfort with self-criticism, restraint and detached observation needed for collective life, and anachronistically, as the timeless psychic albatross of the democratic age. His contemporary reference point was the allegation of the Joseph McCarthy wing of the Republican Party that Ivy League-educated Communists, ensconced in the academy, the national media and the State Department, were selling the country out to the Kremlin. But these were only the latest manifestations of the country’s ingrained discomfort with the “place of mind” in democratic life.
For Hofstadter, anti-intellectualism’s roots, and the rabidly populist hue it took in American democratic life, are religious. The country’s Calvinist heritage—its general suspicion of liturgy, and an inclination toward the “religion of the heart” through the cultivation of a personal relationship with God—undermined even the semblance of moral authority that might have formed around the more established East Coast churches.
The antinomian suspicion of authority had gone secular, however. Business civilization favored practical over liberal education and fostered the popular belief in self-help. The evangelists’ “revolt against modernity” had become an integral part of the modern experience itself. The card-carrying members of the John Birch Society ached for a world of self-reliance, which made them strange bedfellows to the beatnik whose vitalism expressed a fantasy of rigorous moral and individual authenticity. “The type of alienation represented by the beatniks is, in their own term, disaffiliated,” Hofstadter remarked. “They have walked out on the world of the squares and for the most part have abandoned that sense of vocation which is demanded both by serious intellectual achievement and by sustained social protest.”
These trends were likewise amplified by the long shift of the United States’ political and cultural center of gravity from East to West. Hofstadter’s America is urban and cosmopolitan, the product of the wave of European, non-WASP immigration over the fifty years that straddle the turn of the twentieth century. He was a resolute Northeasterner who had a particular dislike for the West and the frontier ethos. This portrait of Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator turned firebrand Republican presidential candidate in 1964, is vintage Hofstadter:
To understand him one must think of the political and social atmosphere of the Southwest, where the raw views of the new millionaires count for much more than they do in other parts of the country, a region where the reforms of the New Deal, now a generation behind us, are still acutely controversial. Imagine a charming, vigorous, basically apolitical man somehow drawn out of this atmosphere into political affairs. Endowed with an active, though largely untutored, mind, he is attracted by the resonances of deep-sounding ideas, and he superimposes upon the brash conservatism of the country-club locker rooms some hasty acquaintance with the notions of our ultraconservative highbrows. Grant that you begin with a man who has a keen taste for combat—political, moral, or military—and who looks upon the necessity of countering the dominant liberal philosophy of the country as a welcome challenge to his manliness and independence.
Liberalism promised the taming of the reflexes and habits that drove Americans like Goldwater. The anti-intellectual mood that the department-store magnate channeled was a reaction to the very real power held by the experts, managers and intellectuals employed by and defending the “industrial state” of the New Deal. Though Hofstadter was reluctant to cozy up to politicians, professors from America’s elite universities—like his friends Arthur Schlesinger and John Kenneth Galbraith—were familiar consiglieri in the salons of the Kennedy-Johnson White House. But these were isolated examples of the deeper mutation in the self-government of democratic society brought on by the professionalization of American life. Surely not all the skills of the so-called “new class” were intellectual per se, but not since the enlightened stewardship of the eighteenth-century ruling class had the mind, supposedly unalloyed by national myths, played such an important role in public life.
Hofstadter would not have liked to acknowledge it, but it was also the moment when one of our latest myths began to take hold—that of the disinterested and apolitical expert, CV in hand and ready to consult. They were “the patrician elite,” he concedes of the framers, perhaps out of regret: “I think the word aristocracy is too thick and too rich for the American blood.”
Satire, a chastening awareness of madness, a disenchanted realism, a hope shared with Tocqueville for “a wise and flexible elite”—Hofstadter’s essays have all the characteristics, and odd pleasures, of aristocratic, elite-centric history. They are also shot through with its flaws. This is strange because, sociologically at least, Hofstadter was no aristocrat. Born in 1916 to lower-middle-class parents—his father was a Polish Jew, and his mother’s German family immigrated in the mid-nineteenth century—he grew up in the industrial hub of Buffalo, New York. A child of the working and middle classes that formed the backbone of Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition, Hofstadter earned his B.A. in 1937 from the University of Buffalo. As a graduate student at Columbia, he was acutely aware of his ambiguous, mixed heritage and all that set him apart from the old-stock WASP elite.
But just as Tocqueville was a reluctant democrat—“his intellectual life is an argument for accepting the pattern of the future”—we might say that Hofstadter was a Mugwump despite himself. Mugwumps (a term originally adapted from the Algonquin word for “warlord” or “bigwig”) were Northeast patricians who bolted from the Republican Party in the 1884 elections and threw themselves into social reform. Hofstadter, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning study The Age of Reform (1956), ascribed progressivism to this chaotic awakening of the American elite. Resentful of the fabulous wealth of the Gilded Age robber barons, fearful of the unruly power of the urban immigrant machines, they hoped to regain their place as stewards of public life. Their reformism was minimal and conservative at first—municipal and civil-service reform, prohibition, “Americanization”—but the Mugwump mood would slowly spread throughout the professional classes who likewise sought a middle ground between the plutocrats and the masses.
Was Progressivism, which introduced such cornerstones of mass democracy as the income tax, the direct election of senators, referendums, the enfranchisement of women, labor codes and the foundations of the welfare state, really an aristocratic revolution? For Hofstadter, it was. “The sons and successors of the Mugwumps had to challenge their fathers’ ideas, modify their doctrinaire commitment to laissez faire, replace their aristocratic preferences with a startling revival of enthusiasm for popular government, and develop greater flexibility in dealing with the demands of the discontented,” he wrote, “before they could launch the movement that came to dominate the political life of the Progressive era.”
But what about those “discontented” themselves? Hofstadter tended to misread, marginalize or flat-out ignore the bottom-up attempts—call them “American”—to revitalize democracy throughout the period.
His primary victims in this respect were the Populists of the 1890s, who in his telling expressed a general nostalgia for the mythologized Jeffersonian conditions of the early republic. William Jennings Bryan, who sought to reorient the two-party system around a frontal opposition to monopoly power by incorporating the Populists into the Democratic Party, was, for Hofstadter, the all-American Don Quixote. The “Great Commoner” dreamed of restoring, through the inflationary coinage of silver, the agrarian and virulently Protestant republic of the early nineteenth century—this against the unceasing advance of relativism, the metropolis and the global marketplace. He died in disgrace, days after he once again made himself into the laughingstock of the educated half of the nation for his defense of creationism in the 1925 Scopes Trial.
Hofstadter glossed over the commonsense proposals of the People’s Party—the nationalization of railroads and other public works, cooperative ownership of businesses, the progressive income tax and public regulation of the monetary system. Ignoring the attempts for a biracial working-class movement in the South, he reduces the Populists to yet another fit of America’s “paranoid style,” emphasizing the movement’s currents of anti-Semitism and Protestant revivalism, as well as its insistence on the conspiratorial grip of East Coast financiers.
The labor movement was also largely absent from Hofstadter’s treatment of the expansion of “industrial democracy” that culminated in the New Deal. In part, this was an expression of his perhaps excessive pessimism concerning the power of national myths, the obverse of his rather monolithic understanding of Americanism. To Hofstadter, the workers’ movement, the socialism of Eugene Debs and the “pathetic proletarianism” of Greenwich Village radicals were hopelessly out of tune in a culture whose horizon was set by the dream of property ownership and individual authenticity.
Pessimism need not be accepted as an excuse for lazy or myopic scholarship, however. A common criticism of Hofstadter takes aim at his preference for syncretic intellectual history as opposed to the grit and grind of archival work. Yet even within the confines of his style of interpretive essay, he made a number of gross misinterpretations. In a previously unpublished 1956 essay on the origins of the welfare state, Hofstadter comically evades a discussion of the labor movement and the wave of strikes and worker organization that shook the United States between the 1880s and the 1930s. Instead, he reviews the long history of Hamiltonian mercantilism. The New Deal’s architects, we learn in a particularly prudish sentence, “were merely converting a tradition of governmental intervention, which had been used to some considerable effect to promote the public welfare by promoting enterprise, into a system of intervention to underwrite the general welfare in other and more direct ways.”
Notwithstanding his master’s thesis on the exclusion of Black sharecroppers from the New Deal-era Agricultural Adjustment Act—a text not included in the current volume—Hofstadter can also be accused of giving short shrift to the history of Black liberation. The Ku Klux Klan was the reactionary mass movement par excellence of the “Progressive Era,” but he embeds the white fright it represented within the general morass of early-twentieth-century WASP America. In The American Political Tradition, he characteristically tucks abolitionism into his essay on the Boston Brahmin Wendell Philips, or the “Patrician as Agitator,” a foil to his portrait of the ur-white supremacist John C. Calhoun, “Marx of the Master Class.”
The centrality of race and racial struggle, the recovery of the Populists, the working-class movement and the American radical tradition more broadly would be the work of the next generation of historians—including many of Hofstadter’s best students, such as Eric Foner, Christopher Lasch and Howard Zinn. In their own way, each of these historians built on Hofstadter’s strengths and filled in his blind spots. To Hofstadter’s lives of supposedly characteristic Americans, Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States adds, well, everyone else. The overall story is more violent, but it is also more democratic: a great many average people who have lived between the Atlantic and the Pacific since the seventeenth century have had excellent ideas about how we might live together in a more just and dignified fashion. Placing the fight against white supremacy at the heart of the story of modern America, Foner has offered a much-needed de-escalation of liberal historiography’s inexhaustible fixation on industrialism.
Lasch’s project was more conceptually demanding, or perhaps just more tormented. Hofstadter never asks the question of whether life “got better” between the 1880s and 1950s. Having written his doctoral dissertation on the odd history of social Darwinism, he would probably have settled for the more neutral term “adaptation.” Though Lasch was also too good of a historian to put it in those terms, he was forthright about his impression that we were losing or had lost something essential to democratic life. In The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics and The Culture of Narcissism, he tells the story of an inner unwinding and decline, hearkening back to the very Jeffersonian republicanism that Hofstadter had discounted as an outmoded myth. The paranoid subject refused to come to terms with his own marginality; Lasch’s narcissist was all too capable of making his peace with this powerlessness. America had never been Great, Lasch knew. Contrary to his former teacher, however, he didn’t view the march of “progress” as just a tragic case of lost illusions. The Populists were right to revolt against the gulf that separated the self-governing ideal from the economic and political conditions that shaped social life. They marked the last major cry of our democratic experiment.
For Hofstadter, that cry was childish. The Iron Cage was here to stay. In fact, to view it as a cage was to make a typically American mistake. A lot of inchoate anger and rage bubbled up between the 1880s and the 1940s, but, in a society as diverse and conflictual as ours, there was no escaping the realities of modern liberal-democratic government—and the need we had for elites to administer it. There really was no such thing as “the People”; that was just another sentimental term for the unheroic negotiating and clientelism needed to sort out our desires. Mass democracy depended on peacefully channeling and balancing the wishes of the many institutions, groups, communities and sectors that together constituted society. The old laissez-faire was dead, and the survival of something we might call “individualism” would require a good deal of statist protection and professional intervention. Some would regret that America was less American. For Hofstadter, we were slowly gaining a reality principle.
As the reforms of the New Deal were normalized through the immediate postwar decades, Hofstadter relished citing the words—ironic, and no doubt partially true—of Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential hopeful of 1952: “The strange alchemy of time has somehow converted the Democrats into the truly conservative party of this country—the party dedicated to conserving all that is best, and building solidly and safely on these foundations.”
Indeed, this volume will have the unfortunate effect of cementing Hofstadter’s reputation as a latent conservative. Not yet the “complete works,” it starts not chronologically in Hofstadter’s career but with his middle period; as a result, its balance is tilted toward his more Mugwumpish writings of political and cultural criticism like Anti-Intellectualism, “The Paranoid Style” and the related essays on the conservative movement.
The reputation is misleading, however. One can of course speculate whether Hofstadter would have followed many of his peers to the right through the 1970s and 1980s, as they were eclipsed in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the general turbulence of the 1960s. But we’d have to make light of what is probably Hofstadter’s defining trait—a rigorous, almost exhausting caution. His disdain for the myths of American culture suggests that he would have been quite homeless in the final decades of the twentieth century. He was simply too suspicious of America as such.
With hindsight, Hofstadter’s death was almost timely. Felled by leukemia in 1970 at the age of 54, he left a body of writing that together reads like a pristine artifact of liberal intellect in its heyday. Because the object of his study was the American attempt to reconcile democratic civilization with capitalism, he can easily be the punching bag for a certain type of left-wing mind. But from the perspective of our own “progressive age”—full of its own robber barons, Mugwump reformers, white supremacists, antinomians and mass movements—this collection is a small monument to that attempt, as well as to its paradoxes and weaknesses.
For his part, Hofstadter was fully aware that the momentary success of that attempt—in the United States, at least—might turn out to have been a pyrrhic victory. Already by the 1950s, it was riddled with contradictions and gaping holes. Democratic aspirations, a certain variant of popular self-government and something resembling individualism seemed to be adapting, with unforeseen consequences, to the circumstances of managerial capitalism. Hofstadter’s particular sensibility emerged from the impression that an uneasy and rickety compromise had been struck—though he recognized it might not survive, and that it was impossible to know what monsters would eventually emerge in its wake.
Whatever they were, he knew, these monsters would not come from the left. To his credit, Hofstadter was hardly a red-baiter. His attitude towards those on his left was, rather, one of counsel, tinged at times with a bit of paternalism. A classic example is a text not included in this volume, his 1968 address to Columbia’s graduating class—the year of the campus occupation in opposition to the construction of a gymnasium in a park overlooking Harlem and the school’s collusion with the Vietnam-era military-industrial complex. The speech was a funeral oration for the liberal-democratic pluralism that a Mugwump like Hofstadter saw as the only avenue for achieving meaningful reform amid the constraints of bigness:
The very possibility of civilized human discourse rests upon the willingness of people to consider that they may be mistaken. The possibility of modern democracy rests upon the willingness of governments to accept the existence of a loyal opposition, organized to reverse some of their policies and replace them in office. Similarly, the possibility of the modern free university rests upon the willingness of society to support and sustain institutions part of whose business it is to examine, critically and without stint, the assumptions that prevail in that society.
If he was not reluctant to criticize mass movements, it is nonetheless difficult to project onto Hofstadter our own experience with centrist liberal condescension. Ultimately, Hofstadter was a historian of America’s elite, and he did not shrink from how greedy, ignorant, shortsighted and violent it tends to be. If one is looking to revisit Hofstadter expecting to mock the false confidence of some long-lost golden age of liberalism, they ought to be a little disappointed. For all the nostalgia that terms like the “liberal consensus” evoke today, it is remarkable that one of the shrewdest observers of that moment, the figure often taken as its exemplar, saw clearly how unstable and precarious that strength was. Today, when the erosion of our democratic institutions is nearly complete, his essays read as a rebuke to those liberals who wish to attribute all our problems to the emergence of Donald Trump, or the mischievous machinations of a few foreign and domestic deplorables.
What’s more, Hofstadter distinguished himself among liberals of the 1950s and 1960s by identifying the great threat to the achievements of the Progressive Era as coming from a revolt of the powerful. Hofstadter’s perhaps excessive faith in the potentially emancipatory nature of acquired critical intelligence, in the application of experimental expertise to collective problems—ideals that would congeal today as liberal worship of leaders and the so-called knowledge class—was tamed by his understanding of how often education and status can be used to consolidate authority rather than to earn it.
As a political commentator, meanwhile, Hofstadter chronicled the changing and violent new face of American conservatism in the 1950s and 1960s. He feared that the broad-based prosperity created by the New Deal could prove to be its own gravedigger. Families that were the beneficiaries of liberalism had moved to the suburbs, purchased Oldsmobiles, set money aside for retirement plans and had kids to put through college. Anything that might appear threatening to that stability—taxes, regulations, the proverbial inner city, new and apparently subversive moral values—would stoke demands for law and order. Certain opportunists would be only too happy to provide it, while they poured their real energy into suffocating the public interest.
Hofstadter underestimated the imminence of the threat—and wouldn’t live to see it come to fruition—but he knew that the American elite was waiting. In the 1954 essay “The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt,” he wrote that “in a populistic culture like ours, which seems to lack a responsible elite with political and moral autonomy, and in which it is possible to exploit the wildest currents of public sentiment for private purposes, it is at least conceivable that a highly organized, vocal, active and well-financed minority could create a political climate in which the rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impossible.”
That is about as good a description of the last four decades of our history as I can imagine, or the last clause is at least. We who have lived in that future should read Hofstadter aspirationally. To achieve the pragmatic burial that our national myths deserve will take all of the Americanism that he ignored: a genuine populistic anger, a few overturned statues, some pathetic proletarianism, a bit of anti-intellectualism and the right type of paranoia. But a few things will have been done right if in thirty years some Mugwump writes about a long age of reform.
Art credits: Bri Gawkoski, “Twilight Zone,” 2017; “Scramble,” 2016. All images courtesy of the artist.