It's the holiday when you’re never where you need to be. It’s also the one when the people you need to be with, the ones who are already there and waiting for you because they live there, the meal is at their house, feel the least shame about telling you to try. You can’t, though. You’ll never make it. It’s too late.
CHARLOTTE—For me, who had never been to a convention until I arrived in Charlotte Monday night, and who had never been a straight political journalist until I felt compelled to act like one because I was suddenly surrounded by them, the problem of watching a speech from the convention floor, is the problem of the convention generally: With so much manufactured spectacle right up in your face, and so much interpretative press machinery grinding away loudly on every side, you don’t know where to look, or how to look, or even if you’re actually there at all.
IT'S JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT on a warm Friday near the Town Center mall in Aurora, Colorado, a sprawling suburban city east of Denver that seems upon first acquaintance to lack a center, and the instinct is to gather. Less than 24 hours ago, at the neighboring Century 16 Theater—its trash-strewn, popcorn-covered parking lot cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape—James Holmes, 24, allegedly lobbed tear-gas canisters into the aisles and opened fire with three different weapons at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing twelve people and wounding 58 others.
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. I DON’T REMEMBER the missionaries’ names, only that one was blond and one was dark, one was from Oregon and one was from Utah. They arrived at our house on secondhand bicycles carrying bundles of inspirational literature. They smelled, I remember, of witch hazel and toothpaste.
LOTTERIES, BY DEFINITION, are for losers. You enter them with an evanescent sense of grandiosity and optimism, but beneath this delusion lurks the knowledge that you wouldn’t be buying a ticket at all if you believed you had a fighting chance of obtaining the prize by normal means. Then the winner is chosen—always some distant stranger who’s notably lacking in your best traits—and it becomes insultingly apparent that you can’t beat the system by any means, including the one that you just vainly tried. The game is not only rigged against you; it isn’t really a game.