A few years back, when Dubya was ridin’ his wooden horse hard, I was in a bar talking to a gal who at some point proclaimed, or admitted, that she was a republican. I asked what made her a republican, and she testified to her belief that the government should do nothing with regard to the environment, poverty, crime, discrimination, pollution, disease, illiteracy, stupidity and every other social ill since the age of Cain. Her point wasn’t a stumper: government solutions to social problems don’t work. I asked if public service and governance weren’t essentially social—if these weren’t designed to address the conditions of civilization. To that I got more of the same: social programs are unnecessary because the problems they failingly address would otherwise fix themselves and everything works best on its own in accordance with the natural, self-regulating way of things. So it’s all up to the individual? I asked. To which she answered with an unequivocal yes. In a flash I saw the genius of republicanism: an abdication of the necessity of improving society, thus narrowing the job of governance down to eliminating the public sector and putting public money in private hands.