Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent
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Our Divided Political Heart will be the must-listen book of the 2012 election campaign. Offering an incisive analysis of how hyper-individualism is poisoning the nation's political atmosphere, E. J. Dionne Jr., argues that Americans can't agree on who we are because we can't agree on who we've been, or what it is, philosophically and spiritually, that makes us Americans. Dionne takes on the Tea Party's distortions of American history and shows that the true American tradition points not to radical individualism, but to a balance between our love of individualism and our devotion to community.Dionne offers both a fascinating tour of American history-from the Founding Fathers to Clay and Lincoln and on to the Populists, the Progressives, and the New Dealers-and also an analysis of our current politics that shatters conventional wisdom. The true American idea, far from endorsing government inaction or indifference, has always viewed the federal government as an active and constructive partner with the rest of society in promoting prosperity, opportunity, and American greatness.The ability of the American system to self-correct is its greatest asset, and Dionne challenges progressives to embrace the American story. Our fractious but productive past offers us the resources both to rediscover the idea of progress and to put an end to our fears of decline. Our Divided Political Heart will be required listening for all who seek a path out of our current impasse.
government” and envisioned a “state apparatus closely involved in the day-to-day workings of the economy.” Supporters of “the vaguely corporatist concept of business ‘associationalism’ “ looked toward creating “cartelistic arrangements within major industries to curb the destabilizing impact of competition.” They foresaw government playing “a modest, largely uncoercive role.” Only “on the edges of liberal thought,” Brinkley observed, were “more radical ideas” that saw the Depression as revealing
banks early in the financial crisis in order to speed recovery). No one on the left seeks a radical centralization of power in the federal government. Indeed, much of Obama’s original stimulus package and his 2011 jobs bill involved either tax cuts for individuals or aid of various sorts to state and local governments that resembled nothing so much as Richard Nixon’s revenue-sharing program—or Henry Clay’s proposals for distribution of assistance to the states. And Obama’s health plan faced solid
Record: A Diary of American Events with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1862), 1:44–46; also http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1861stephens.asp. 35 “Beyond the circumscribed world”: Elbert Ventura, “Making History,” Democracy 20 (Spring 2011). 36 “Like the experience of foreign travel”: James W. Ceaser, “The Visionary Generation,” Wall Street Journal, 14 May 2011. 37 “belonged to the community”: Rush Limbaugh, “The Story of Thanksgiving,”
established, quasiaristocratic forms, thereby fortifying society against the onslaughts of radical innovation and democratic excess. In Conservatism: Dream and Reality, Robert Nisbet described the traditionalist posture toward faith this way: “Religion . . . was preeminently public and institutional, something to which loyalty and a decent regard for form were owing, a valuable pillar to both state and society, but not a profound and permeating doctrine, least of all a total experience.” For
and society;” and because they impede “access to basic goods that are the foundation of dignity and standing in one’s own eyes and in the eyes of the community.” In sum: “The Framers believed that personal liberty and political equality required a measure of economic independence and material security.” Protecting our constitutional democracy thus demands that we address “our unequal and unfair society.” Where Kendall, Ryan, Stone, Marshall, and Forbath all agree is that progressives must rejoin