Sometimes it’s useful to take a step back, out of the blinding morass of media firecrackers detonating in our information space, and get some perspective about where we are as a country. In fact, not where we are — that is a familiar place of broken political promises and fractured hope — but why we are. How did we get here?

History has done a poor job of explaining that. As Italian writer Roberto Calasso put it in The Unnamable Present (2019), his gnomic musings on the condition of the world, "conspiracy is born with history"...

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