Weekly Standard: Long and Winding Republican Road In response to the vicissitudes of the Republican presidential race, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard argues that Santorum's recent surge in the polls shows how the race is far from over.

Weekly Standard: Long and Winding Republican Road

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum pauses during a rally Feb. 13, 2012 in Tacoma, Washington. Washington state's caucuses will be held March 3, 2012. Santorum is now statistically tied with Mitt Romney in some polls. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum pauses during a rally Feb. 13, 2012 in Tacoma, Washington. Washington state's caucuses will be held March 3, 2012. Santorum is now statistically tied with Mitt Romney in some polls.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

William Kristol is an editor at The Weekly Standard.

We moderns like our roads direct, our destinations clear, our paths planned, our routes rational. But we delude ourselves. We presume to know in advance what cannot be known. We bask in the conceit of rational control when such control is not to be had. We're then disappointed, even angered, when we discover that life is in fact​ — ​to quote those perceptive Oakeshottian critics of modernity, the Beatles​ — ​a long and winding road.

But long and winding roads can lead to worthwhile destinations. The limitations of modern rationalism don't preclude a reasonable outcome to our quest. Conservatives, of all people, shouldn't despair when the way forward turns out to be murky, and the ascent full of twists and turns. It's the modern left, after all, who are the terrible simplifiers.

Recall the wise words of Madison, in Federalist 37:

"When we pass from the works of nature, in which all the delineations are perfectly accurate, and appear to be other-wise only from the imperfection of the eye which surveys them, to the institutions of man, in which the obscurity arises as well from the object itself as from the organ by which it is contemplated, we must perceive the necessity of moderating still further our expectations and hopes from the efforts of human sagacity... Questions daily occur in the course of practice, which prove the obscurity which reins in these subjects, and which puzzle the greatest adepts in political science... Besides the obscurity arising from the complexity of objects, and the imperfection of the human faculties, the medium through which the conceptions of men are conveyed to each other adds a fresh embarrassment... When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated."

Conservatives in particular shouldn't lament our dim and doubtful foresight of what lies ahead. It is, after all, the condition of human freedom.

And freedom is what Republican primary voters seem to be celebrating in 2012. They feel free to change their minds as the contest goes on. They feel free to ignore experts telling them how they must think and vote. They feel free to reverse the choices of their fellow Republicans in another state from the week before. They feel free to promote a candidate who was once last to first. They feel free to think that they shouldn't be prohibited from rejecting the allegedly prohibitive favorite. Strikingly, in a Fox News poll last week, only 17 percent of likely Republican primary voters agreed that "Mitt Romney's definitely going to win"; 80 percent chose the option, "It's not over — someone other than Romney could still win."

In short, GOP voters feel free to believe that the long and winding road on which they have embarked will more likely lead to the doors of the White House than would a short, straight, pundit-sanctioned path.

Continued At The Weekly Standard