Finding Virtue's Place: Examining America's Civic Life

By S. Lance Denning | Go to book overview

communities. Many more than what today's national civic debate assumes epitomize the American values and ideals of democratic interaction. Many participate in Tocqueville's vital associational life, where democracy succeeds through active citizenship. At best, as political theory and democratic practice reveal, a delicate balancing act exists. Liberty must be assessed with equality, private interests monitored by public goods, and business innovation checked by citizen action and government regulation. We achieve these tenuous, evolving balances when we are citizens of our communities. Today's civic examples exude great promise for American democracy, and as with any tenuous balance, a number of changing obstacles challenge this promise. To address these obstacles, it is clear that no final end exists for citizenship, no state of perfection or attainment, only an ongoing series of interesting and fulfilling tasks, shared with others, with the lasting benefit of shared purposes.


NOTES
1
Benjamin R. Barber, A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Democracy Strong ( New York: Hill and Wang, 1998), 34-35.
3
Claude S. Fischer, Michael Hout, Martin Sanchez Jankowski, Samuel R. Lucas, Ann Swidler, and Kim Voss, Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), 136-137.
6
Barber, A Place for Us, 106-107.
7
Robin Garr, Reinvesting in America: The Grassroots Movements that Are Feeding the Hungry, Housing the Homeless, and Putting Americans Back to Work ( New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1995), 230.
8
Barber, A Place for Us, 91, 94, 96.
9
Lisbeth B. Schorr, Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America ( New York: Anchor Books, 1997), 7-8.
11
For instance, see Alan Ehrenhalt, The United States of Ambition: Politicians, Power, and the Pursuit of Office ( New York: Times Books, 1991), 270-276.
12
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 6 September 1789, The Portable Thomas Jefferson, ed. Merrill D. Peterson ( New York: Viking Penguin, 1975), 449.

-155-

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Finding Virtue's Place: Examining America's Civic Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - Our Civic Ideal and Today's Debate 1
  • Notes 24
  • 2 - The Sham of Civic Virtue 27
  • Notes 50
  • 3 - Equality and Civic Health 53
  • Notes 77
  • 4 - Confronting Complexity 81
  • Notes 105
  • 5 - At the Confluence of Theory and Practice 107
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Changing Our Balance 131
  • Notes 155
  • Selected Bibliography 157
  • Index 163
  • About the Author *
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