If it wasn’t clear before, the events of 2016 removed any doubt: the post-1989 era of “end of history” triumphalism has ended. With the rise of authoritarian populism on both sides of the Atlantic, it is no longer possible to assume complacently that liberal democracy is the end point of political evolution toward which all countries will eventually converge. The basic principles of what Karl Popper called the “open society” are neither self-explanatory nor self-executing: They must be constantly articulated, defended, and fought for if they are to remain vital. The Open Society Project was conceived and established to come to the intellectual and practical defense of cherished ideals and institutions now under siege.
Most tributes to George H. W. Bush have remembered him for his decency, gentlemanliness, civility, and willingness to work with people who disagreed with him. But beyond his personality, and even beyond his accomplishments, history may remember him as the last true Republican president.