The Illusory Quest for a Vital American Center

What a new history of American civil religion gets wrong.

From the cover of American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present. Princeton.

From the cover of American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present. Princeton.

Observation
April 6 2017
About the author

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His writings are posted at www.PeterBerkowitz.com.


The quest for the “vital center” of American politics is admirable. It is also a quixotic endeavor, and one vulnerable to slipping into just another form of partisanship. Proceeding from a sound conviction—that underlying the contentious wrangling of day-to-day politics are deeper, unifying commitments—it goes astray by encouraging its adepts to identify their partisan preferences with the sturdy foundations of the American constitutional tradition, and to dismiss those who think differently as knaves, fools, or thugs.

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More about: America, American founding, History & Ideas, Liberalism