Making Love in America
Everyone has a bottom line. The choice here is to put "love" on the bottom line.
Is this a culture that is producing love? This question may seem strange because
it has not been on the agenda of serious scholarship for some time. . . . The lan-
guage that has emerged in . . . America is magnificent in many respects, but it is
deficient on the bottom line of love-production. . . . We need to use our language
carefully, so that we speak to each other's common humanity, and assist in the
production, accumulation, and distribution of love in our culture.
—Raymond Gozzi Jr., New Words and a Changing American Culture
If you're thinking of being my baby, it doesn't matter if you're black or white.
—Michael Jackson, "Black or White"
Race has had a significant impact on the choices Americans have made throughout the nation's history, and racialized understandings of citizenship and community have been major contributing factors to the popular willingness to reject leftist movements and appeals. That the crucial role played by racial tensions and conflicts has often been overlooked by analysts seeking to understand the weakness of the American left is partially a consequence of the methods that have been used to investigate the exceptionalism phenomenon. Specifically, I have tried to improve on previous efforts in three ways: by developing and applying a comprehensive definition of the left that includes considerations of public policy and popular culture, by approaching the American left from a comparative perspective, and by considering the evolution of the left over an extended period of time (as opposed to focusing on one era).
First, the study of American exceptionalism must extend beyond an emphasis on one realm—for example, philosophy, the conventional left, a particular public policy area—to consider the phenomenon in a thorough fashion. 1 An adequate account cannot end with a discussion of the philosophical influence of one ethnic group, the analysis of a single movement in a particular context, or other isolated phenomena. The left must be approached as one presence among others and as a