DiStefano’s alternative preference, anyhow—a “Party of the American Dream,” premised on vague ideas about modernizing government, providing opportunities for advancement, and eliminating corruption and stagnation—is great campaign messaging, but ultimately as hollow an idea as the contemporary political hackishness and mindlessness he opposes.
In one section towards the end of the book, DiStefano laments the decline of substance in politics. Gone are the days, he says, of policy entrepreneurs, like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and John DiIulio, or intellectual administrators, like William Casey and James Baker, striding the national and world stage with Presidents of the United States.
That is true, so far as it goes. But if DiStefano is right about any of his arguments at all, then perhaps soon enough we’ll be seeing people of substance up there with the politicians, again, counseling them on how to manage their age’s part in the endless cycle of American politics.
Luke Nathan Phillips is an editor at Better Angels.