Adam Gopnik at Town Hall Seattle 
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Adam Gopnik at Town Hall Seattle
Credit: KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

A defense of liberalism in illiberal times

Chances are you remember what you were you doing on the night of November 8, 2016.

Writer Adam Gopnik recalls how his then 17-year-old daughter Olivia became distraught over the news that Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, would be the next president of the United States.

Gopnik says he wouldn’t have been sympathetic if Olivia’s response was merely politically factional. It wasn’t. He understood and shared her deeper concern “…that some terrible new thing had entered the world, an authoritarian instinct, an autocratic pattern, and one that was alloyed with what could only be called predation.”

To break the “OMFG!” digital spell Olivia had entered, for as long as possible, he whisked her out for a long walk that night. They talked about the topic of what became his new book, “A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism.”

Adam Gopnik is a New Yorker staff writer, author and in a more recent incarnation, as he explains here, a lyricist and libretto writer. He gave this talk on June 18 at Town Hall Seattle, as part of their Civics series. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded his address.