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Two decades ago, when I was working in politics, I ran into a friend in New York after returning from my umpteenth trip to Washington. Election Day was weeks away, and I was tired in the way that political people are tired in the fall of years that end in an even number.

He expressed unease with how little he was engaged in politics. A brilliant actor, he didn’t do much more than vote. I said — with absolute conviction — that we were fortunate to live in a country where art was more important than politics. Places where politics were all consuming and all important were invariably places with big problems.

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