Thomas Jefferson believed that the constitution should expire after 19 years, so that the dead would not have dominion over the living. That fate seems to have arrived. The Americans are in constant debates with ghosts and their conversations with dead people are most powerful, most ferocious, at exactly the points where they are most nonsensical. They state defiantly that all men are created equal when any casual observer of life knows they aren’t. They claim that men and women should be judged by the content of their character, when nobody can know the content of another’s character. These dreams, these impossibilities, are the absolute and real foundation of their nation. And the dreams are so entrancing that it’s unclear whether the problem is that the Americans believe them, or that they don’t. It’s supremely childish, either way.