Lack of ideology and belief in nothing in particular (except perhaps more redistribution):
In polarized times, political competition comes to resemble tribal warfare. Everyone is under pressure to close ranks and boost morale. Lacking an animating vision beyond expert-led incrementalism, center-left politicians and pundits have few options to rally the Democratic base other than by attacking adversaries and heightening partisan divides. The other option—laying out an alternative that differs from what Hillary Clinton or even President Obama offered—requires ideological conviction.
That would explain why Rep. Adam Schiff —previously “known as a milquetoast moderate,” according to the New Yorker—has emerged as one of the most outspoken figures in the Russian collusion investigation. Before being appointed to succeed Mrs. Clinton in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand was an upstate New York representative who belonged to the Blue Dog Coalition. Her 2013 New Yorker profile was titled “Strong Vanilla”—and she now boasts the upper chamber’s most anti- Trump voting record.
When people don’t believe in so much with conviction, the logic of the crowd will sometimes dominate, because actual belief is no longer such a constraining force. This is one reason why a totally secular “Enlightenment” society is not in every way to be welcomed — we humans are not worthy of it in every regard.
That is from Shadi Hamid at the WSJ; given this perspective, it is perhaps no accident that he is a scholar of Islam. “Lack of real belief,” and lack of genuine religious communities, is often more of a problem behind terrorism than is “excessively fanatical belief.”
Hat tip goes to the excellent Samir Varma.