The genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. Truly total government–“Your papers, citizen,” stop-and-frisk, permission needed to travel from city to city–might spark revolt. By contrast, a sufficiency of totalitarianism, but not an excess, keeps the populace in adequate torpidity. Thus done astutely, totalitarianism is hardly noticed.

The founder of this philosophy was that rascal, Abe Lincoln. As we have all heard in what has become almost a cliche, he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” He wisely did not add, “…but you can fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

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