America: What Are We Fighting For?04-17-2019
By Roger Berkowitz
The Hannah Arendt Center Conference “The Unmaking of Americans: Are There Still American Ideas Worth Fighting For?” posed a simple yet controversial question: Is America an exceptional country? In other words, Is there an American Idea? And if yes, what is the idea on which America is founded?
Those of us who care about the collective American project— the idea of building a common constitutional democracy—have an imper- ative to ask: What is the American project? Is there still anything left of a common American idea? And if not, what, if anything, can we as a body of citizens imagine to be a common idea around which we can unite and for which we can fight?
About a year before the Arendt Center’s 2014 Conference, one of those weird confluences happened in which a number of books I was read- ing coalesced around a particular topic. First, I picked up Lawrence Lessig’s Republic Lost. In the beginning of the book, Professor Lessig writes:
There is a feeling today among too many Americans that we might not make it. Not that the end is near, or that doom is around the corner, but that a distinctly American feeling of inevitability, of greatness—culturally, economically, politically—is gone. . . . That the thing that we were once most proud of—this, our republic— is the one thing that we have all learned to ignore. Government is an embarrassment. It has lost the capacity to make the most essential decisions. And slowly it begins to dawn upon us: a ship that can’t be steered is a ship that will sink.1
That book came out in 2011. Shortly after that, I read Coming Apart, which was released in 2012. Charles Murray uses the introduction to explain his book’s significance:
This book is about an evolution in American society that has taken place since November 21, 1963, leading to the formation of classes that are different in kind and in their degree of separation from anything that the nation has ever known. I will argue that the divergence into these separate classes, if it continues, will end what has made America America.2
Finally, I read a book that came out in 2013 by George Packer entitled The Unwinding:
The Unwinding is nothing new. There have been unwindings every generation or two: the fall to earth of the Founders’ heav- enly Republic in a noisy marketplace of quarrelsome factions; the war that tore the United States apart and turned them from plu- ral to singular; the crash that laid waste to the business of America, making way for a democracy of bureaucrats and everymen. Each decline brought renewal, each implosion released energy, out of each unwinding came a new cohesion.3
Lawrence Lessig, Charles Murray, and George Packer are three very different people occupying wildly divergent parts of the political and cultural spectrum. Yet these three books all start with the assumption that there is something meaningful, something exceptional about America, and that that quality is being lost. It is coming apart. It is being unwound.
Some people say that there is no American exceptionalism. They say it is a myth or a fiction that never was. David Bromwich, in his essay in this volume, argues that American exceptionalism is dangerous. The idea of America, in this telling, is a self-justificatory veil that hides the ugly truth of a country built around slavery, genocide, and imperialism. And this critique of American exceptionalism is both right and necessary. The idea that America is in some ways meaningful and important is not a claim that America lives up to its ideal, but that the ideal is, in the words of Seymour Martin Lipset, a double-edged sword, one that can be wielded both for justice and for justification.
To rethink American exceptionalism as meaningful today, it is important to understand a bit about history. We begin with John Winthrop, who came over on the Arabella with the Pilgrims and who was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In his famous sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” from 1630, he uttered these lines:
For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are upon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.4
Winthrop’s argument is that America was this new beginning in the eyes of God that could serve as an example for the world. And this idea lasted. The speech’s text was first printed in 1838—a fair bit later after Winthrop first delivered it—and it acted as the foundation for John F. Kennedy’s “A City Upon a Hill” speech in 1961.
Echoing Winthrop’s claim of America’s exceptionalism, Thomas Paine in his book Common Sense in 1776 writes:
We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the event of a few months.5
Here we have a secular individual—Thomas Paine was a raging atheist—who more or less translates Winthrop’s religious idea about America’s special place in the world. And around the same time, Philip Freneau, who is now known as the poet of the American Revolution, takes Paine’s secular paean to American exceptionalism and turns it into verse:
So Shall our Nation, formed on Virtue’s Plan, Remain the guardian of the Rights of Man, A vast republic, famed through every clime, Without a kind, to see the end of time.6
Then a half century later, as some of you may know, Alexis de Tocqueville of France came to America and in 1835 published Volume One of Democracy in America. Tocqueville traveled to the United States in 1831 posing the problem of how freedom and free institutions could sur- vive in democracy. He worried that the tyranny of a democratic majority and also the degradation of souls in a world of equality and thus shorn of distinction and greatness would spell the end of freedom. While Tocqueville found much in America that worried him, he also saw that American democracy, in distinction to rising democracies elsewhere, had developed institutions and ideals that at least to some degree protected against the loss of freedom that elsewhere accompanied the rise of democracy. In his book, he famously writes:
Toqueville pointed to America’s puritanical origin, thus American’s love of religious liberty and independence, entropic qualities that are mit- igated by the centripetal forces of religious communalism that draws unique individuals around a central and common virtue. Above all, Tocqueville saw what he called the “dogma of self-government” as practiced in the New England Town Hall meetings to be the animating of a spirit of freedom in America that could, if cultivated, inoculate American democracy against the twin tyrannies of mass opinion and mass democracy. Ultimately, America’s uniqueness is perhaps most famously defended by President Abraham Lincoln later in the 19th century. Lincoln mobilized the idea of American equality partly to argue against slavery, but more explicitly he mobilized the idea of American self-government to argue for the importance of the American idea and thus of the Union itself. It is from this idea of America’s importance as a model of democracy that the Gettysburg Address took its rhetorical power:
The situation of the Americans is therefore entirely exceptional, and it is to be believed that no [other] democratic people will ever be placed in it.7
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.8
Time and again, throughout American history, this dream of American exceptionalism has been mobilized by those in power to justify America and its actions. But this dream was also used by many out of power in America, to call the nation back to its highest and best ideals. In 1935, Langston Hughes wrote a poem, “Let America be America Again.” One of the key verses reads:
A few decades later, that dream about which Hughes wrote became the foundation of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.)9
For Hughes and King, the idea of America found in the Declaration of Independence and also in the United States Constitution—in spite of its compromise on slavery—remains a powerful force for the pursuit of racial justice. Indeed, throughout American history, voices from excluded groups, including Native Americans, black slaves, African Americans, women, and immigrants, have found in the American idea both a dream and a sword.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal.”10
These various examples of the idea of America together illustrate the constancy of this idea that America is called to justice, called to equality, called to individualism, and called to freedom because of its unique place in the world, something we might want to call American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism can be used to mean that America is “better than” other nations, but it doesn’t need to be. We can also use it as an appeal to American difference or uniqueness.
How does Hannah Arendt fit in to a discussion on American exceptionalism? Why is it that we are asking the question of American exceptionalism at a conference sponsored by the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College?
In 1963, the same year that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, Arendt published her book On Revolution. On Revolution is a book about America, about the way the American Revolution and also the American system of government are unique and important in the world. In other words, Arendt’s book is an expression of her own, her unique view of American exceptionalism.
It is important to remember that Arendt had escaped from Nazi Germany and had then come to America, where she fell in love with her adopted country. She came to be a deeply American thinker in her life and worldview. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t critical of the United States. In fact, she was highly critical of it. She protested against McCarthyism and she spoke out against the rise of a secret national security state during the Cold War. But Arendt embraced the United States as the one unique country in the world that was not a nation state. While most states were centralized governments built around a majority national group that would in the end either oppress or assimilate all others, the United States, as Arendt understood it, was a country that in both its cultural and its political foundations was pluralistic and without a central authority. It was not a nation-state because Americans were and could be all people and all people could, at least in principle, become Americans.
Arendt developed her argument about American pluralism in On Revolution, which is her effort to explore the uniqueness of the American Revolution in the history of revolutions and the uniqueness of the American constitutional democratic system that she so loved. She begins the book by emphasizing the difference between rebellion and revolution. The end of rebellion is liberation. In that sense, if you overthrow a dicta- tor, that’s a rebellion by which you liberate yourself. By contrast, the end of a revolution represents the foundation of freedom, and that’s much harder to realize. In the United States, she argues, there was not only a rebellion against Great Britain; there was also a revolution that founded a new idea of political freedom.
The American rebellion only became a revolution with the passage of the U.S. Constitution. What makes America unique to Hannah Arendt is the revolutionary freedom first established and confirmed by our consti- tutional tradition. As she writes:
Arendt’s argument is that as soon as the American Revolution occurred, all 13 colonies immediately remade their constitutions. They didn’t start just with legislatures. They didn’t begin passing laws. They asked: Who are we? What do we believe our politics are about? How do we give ourselves the power to rule? This practice had started with the Mayflower Compact, where in their new home, the first American colonists said, “We’re going to give ourselves a government.” And this tradition of Americans feeling they have a right to give themselves government, to constitute themselves, is at the very core of what makes America unique and special.
For in America the armed uprising of the colonies and the Declaration of Independence had been followed by a spontaneous outbreak of constitution-making in all thirteen colonies—as though, in John Adams’ words, “thirteen clocks had struck as one”—so that there existed no gap, no hiatus, hardly a breathing spell between the war of liberation, which was the condition for freedom, and the constitution of the new states.11
In her book, Arendt quotes Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, which offers a definition of a constitution that is very different from our under- standing of the term today. Nowadays we conceive of a constitution as a limit. It says what you can’t do, what the government can’t do. Thomas Paine had a different understanding of the word. In fact, he said that con- stitution is a verb: as Arendt cites Paine, he writes, “A constitution is not an act of a government but of a people constituting a government.”
In Paine’s mind, a constitution is an act of making, an act of constitut- ing ourselves. Arendt takes this incredibly seriously. She believes that our Constitution is what’s at the center of the American experience of free- dom. She even goes so far as to suggest that it forms what she calls “a new system of power,” a whole new idea of power:
Too many people today think of power as something dangerous, something bad that needs to be eliminated. We say: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There is a truth in that cliché. But Arendt also thought of power as something salutary. Power is what people enact when they act together for a common end or civic purpose.
The Aim of state constitutions [after the revolution] was “to create new centres of power after the Declaration of Independence had abolished the authority and power of crown and Parliament.”12
Arendt understood that while power may corrupt, governance depends on power. And she argues that the American founders appreci- ated this viewpoint; the Americans used their new experience of freedom following their Revolution to create lots of new centers of power. Constitutions in all 13 states were institutions of power; town councils and town governments were institutions of power; the legislatures in counties and states were institutions of power; governors were institutions of power; the three branches of the federal government were institutions of power; even the many civic and political associations Americans formed were institutions of power. Her point is that local power centers sprung up all over America and the American Constitution gave these multiple power sources a formal institutional home.
The institutionalization of multiple sources of power in America was, for Arendt, deeply important to the American experience of freedom. This is because, as she writes, “Power, contrary to what we are inclined to think, cannot be checked, at least reliably, by laws.”13 That is one of the most important insights Arendt offers us, and it’s one that we simply don’t understand today. We think that laws and the constitution can check power, but they don’t work that way. If people in a democracy really want to do something, in the end they will just do it.
Please do not misunderstand me. Laws and written constitutions are important. But in the end, there’s more to democracy. John Adams and the American revolutionaries similarly believed this. John Adams wrote: “Power must be opposed to power, force to force, strength to strength.”14 Power is a force of its own reckoning. It cannot be checked by laws alone or by pieces of paper. What the Americans did is to create this new idea of power, which was a structure within which they could, and did, act in con- cert and thereby exercise their freedom.
After the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation were considered too weak. But the Founders did not simply substitute a federal government for the unruly governance of the many states. They were con- vinced that they didn’t need a model affirming that the states were bad, that the federal government was good, and that ultimately we needed to surrender states’ power to make the federal government stronger. We needed to make the federal government strong as a balance to the states: ‘Not the states ought to surrender their powers to the national government, rather the powers of the central government should be greatly enlarged....’ Clearly the true objective of the American Constitution was not to limit power but to create more power, actually to establish and duly constitute an entirely new power centre, destined to compensate the confederate republic, whose authority was to be exerted over a large, expanding territory, for the power lost through the separation of the colonies from the English crown.15
This willingness to multiply powers and institutionalize a true contest of power is what has made America different from France and almost all other modern governments that seek to centralize power. According to Arendt, “The American revolution brought the new American idea of power and the American Experience of Power out into the open.”16
To further elaborate this American experience of power, Arendt quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, who, famously, wrote: “The American Revolution broke out, and the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people came out of the townships and took possession of the state.”17 Her point is that this American experience of self-government in the townships, as well as on the Arabella—this feeling of the right to make our own govern- ment—created a unique idea of American power, one that not only could protect freedom but also make freedom what it is, in its American mani- festation: self-government. And so she concludes:
What made America unique for Arendt was that there was no one sov- ereign, there was no one place where sovereignty was held. There were many power sources. The focus wasn’t even the people or the nation because there were many peoples and many nations, and each one could have power.
The great and, in the long run, perhaps the greatest American innovation in politics as such was the consistent abolition of sover- eignty within the body politics of the republic, the insight that in the realm of human affairs sovereignty and tyranny are the same.18
All of this seems like a pretty happy story. But as most of you who have read Arendt know, she rarely tells a story that ends so happily. On Revolution is no different. Arendt called the last chapter of her book “The Lost Treasure.” In it, she talks about how Thomas Jefferson was the American Founder who most understood the failure of the American Constitution and its attempt to found a new freedom. In Jefferson’s telling, the U.S. Constitution had failed to provide a space where everyday Americans could exercise and practice their freedom. “Jefferson knew, however dimly, that the Revolution, while it had given freedom to the peo- ple, had failed to provide a space where this freedom could be exercised.”19 We had legislators in the federal government, and we had legislatures at the state level and the county level. And we had mayors. But we didn’t have places where people could come together and experience the freedom of acting together in self-government.
At one time, Jefferson had put forth a proposal for wards. He suggested breaking counties into wards and having each ward act as a miniature self-government. On the model of town council government, the wards would offer a space for all Americans to engage in the act of free self-government. But the fact that the ward system—or something like it— was left out of the U.S. Constitution meant that the American practice of self-government lacked a constitutionally instituted public space.
The failure of the Constitution to include institutions small enough to ensure active political participation led in Arendt’s telling to the loss of the treasure, the loss of the multiplication of powers, the loss of the American experience of power and freedom. For what eventually happened, she argues, is that as America became bigger, the practice of government became more complicated and time consuming; it was convenient, therefore, to outsource the practice and activity of governing to others. That is, to bureaucrats and elected politicians. The American people began to let the governors begin to govern. And as the governors began governing, the people began to say, “It’s not my responsibility. All we have to do is vote every couple of years.” The people got corrupted.
When Arendt talks about corruption, she means the word in its most fundamental sense. There is of course a connection to the way we use cor- ruption today and the way Zephyr Teachout uses the word corruption, in her essay in this volume and in her book Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, to name the corrosive influ- ence of money in politics. But for Arendt, corruption is the social tendency of everyday people to privilege their private and individual interests over and above the common good and the public interest. Here is how she describes the fact of corruption in the United States:
The people have become convinced that the American government is there to serve them. They now buy the government, or they expect services from the government. That is the connection with our more usual sense of corruption. But the core of corruption is that the people have stopped governing themselves. Governing takes work and effort. It requires courage insofar as one must speak in public and risk censure, if not ostracism and even violence. We are living at a time when the public sense and public commitment has been vitiated by a single-minded focus on individual or, at best, group interests. That is the ultimate corruption. One example of what I mean by this can be found in a 1958 book, Small Town in Mass Society, by Arthur J. Vidich and Joseph Bensman,21 about a small town called Candor (interestingly named), near Ithaca, NY. The book studies the small-town people in the 1950s and finds that they all think of themselves as superior to urban dwellers. They are the proverbial “root” of America. They’re independent. They’re not big. They have their own little ways. They’re “good folk,” they say. And they can also gov- ern themselves in a small-town, good-American fashion. But as the writers study the people, the town, and the politics, what they find over and over again is that every time the town wants to solve a problem, they either outsource it to the county or state, or follow the regulations set forth by the state or federal government. As a result, “Solutions to the problem of fire protection are found in agreements with regionally organized fire districts.” Over and again, “The town prefers to have its road signs provided in standard form by state agencies ‘without cost to the taxpayer[s].’” For Vidich and Bensman, “Springdale [the pseudonym for Candor, NY] accepts the state’s rules and regulations on roads built and maintained by the state. It works with the foreman of the state high- way maintenance crew to have his teams clear village roads, thus saving the expense of organizing and paying for this as a town.” And “State high- way construction and development programs largely present local political agencies with the alternative of either accepting or rejecting proposed road plans and programs formulated by the state highway department.”22 Vidich and Bensman conclude that far from their self-image of small- town independence, the people of Springdale are highly dependent upon the money and values of mass society. Indeed, there is a pattern of dependence on state and federal agencies:
What could happen, and what indeed has happened over and over again since, was that “the representative organs should become corrupt and perverted,” but such corruption was not likely to be due (and hardly ever has been due) to a conspiracy of the representative organs against the people whom they represented. Corruption in this kind of government is much more likely to spring from the midst of society, that is, from the people themselves.20
In Republic Lost Lawrence Lessig defines corruption as dependence. And dependence is clearly evident in “Springdale.” Indeed, Vidich and Bensman conclude that the people of Springdale are bought. They sell their self-government. They sell their right to freedom to subsidies and, in kind, to payment, as observed by the writers in the book’s conclusion: “Psychologically this dependence leads to an habituation to outside control to the point where the town and village governments find it hard to act even where they have the power.”24 In other words, in American towns as well as in American cities, we have given up our power, our right to self- government, and we have done so over and over again.
There is a “pattern of dependence,” according to which the “important decisions are made for Springdale by outside agen- cies.” [e.g. State police, the Department of Education, state welfare agencies, state highway department, the state conservation department] Though such agencies and their representatives are frequently resented by the community, their services are accepted and sought because they are free or because acceptance of them carries with it monetary grants-in-aid for the local community... they accede to the rule of these outside agencies because the agen- cies have the power to withhold subsidies.23
Self-government isn’t the only thing we’ve lost. Senator Paul Douglas, who represented Illinois for 18 years, had this to say:
Today the corruption of public officials by private interests takes a more subtle form. The enticer does not generally pay money directly to the public representative. He tries instead by a series of favors to put the public official under such a feeling of personal obligation that the latter gradually loses his sense of mission to the public and comes to feel that his first loyalties are to his private benefactors and patrons. What happens is a gradual shifting of a man’s loyalties from the community to those who have been doing him favors.25
This is how the private interests of the people corrupt the political. We lose not just self-government and local governments. We also lose an idea of national government. For what does national government now do? It does what local government was supposed to do. It gives out favors. It helps people with welfare. It helps people with quotidian things. Meanwhile, the original role of the national government was to act as the sense of what holds different peoples together.
Robert Pranger, one of the most perceptive political thinkers of the 20th century, argues that we have witnessed a massive change in the role and understanding of the U.S. national government. There are, Pranger writes, two ideas of liberty.26 One is the “liberty of self-fulfillment, the free- dom to follow one’s ambitions.” The second is “toleration or the liberty to deviate unimpeded by peremptory claims of others,” the toleration that enables people living together in a world in which we don’t always agree with one another, but where we see ourselves united by a common pur- pose. In Pranger’s insightful account of American ideas, the United States has undergone a transformation from the liberty of toleration to the liberty of self-fulfillment. We have witnessed a “decline of the national government” in which the public perceptions of the national government have shifted. Once the national government was the “zealous umpire responsible to the community as a whole,” designed to promote and pre- serve the freedom of individuals and communities to govern themselves. Increasingly, however, the federal government has become the “ultimate preemptor,” the sovereign ruler that imposes a common national will on pluralistic conflicts. The federal government, Pranger rightly sees, has come to look more and more like a bank or a micro-regulator; it picks and supports winners to whom it offers financial and institutional support. But as we lose the sense of the national government as an embodiment of the general idea of American freedom, that government is corrupted and becomes instead simply a tool for the pursuit of private interest.
What happens when liberty is redefined as self-fulfillment and government is encountered not as an activity but as a tool useful for individual self-fulfillment? Rational voters eventually decide not to vote, especially in local elections. In 2013, an off-year election, the New York City mayoral election—not an unimportant post, some would say—seduced only 24 per- cent of the voters to cast a ballot. That’s pretty good actually, because in Los Angeles it was 16 percent; in Durham, North Carolina, 10.49 percent; and in the 2013 Texas municipal elections, only 8.1 percent of registered voters bothered to vote. The point is that as local government has lost its role and become dependent on large state and federal bureaucracies, the American idea of power that emerges from engaged self-government has withered. And individuals have turned their focus ever more from the common good to the self-fulfillment of personal interest.
This turn from the common to the self is what Hannah Arendt names corruption. It is the corruption of small towns, towns that were once self- governing local institutions, but which increasingly are insinuated within mass society in such a way that they have given up their powers to govern themselves. It is the corruption of politicians, who become dependent on enormous amounts of cash and thus take their eyes away from the com- mon good and toward the good of those who can provide them with the money they need to run for office. It is the corruption of government, which increasingly cares more about keeping itself in business than about solving problems. Every four years, every president runs on the notion of reforming government. It never happens. Jonathan Rauch, in a great book called Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working, makes this point: government is a bipartisan effort that wants to keep itself in business. It doesn’t actually want to change.27
Closer to home, we witness the corruption of education. William Deresiewicz has explored this corruption in his book Excellent Sheep, about the myriad of ways we corrupt young people who are going to college. We teach them to be excellent, to be top students, to be super smart, but we don’t teach them values. In Deresiewicz’s words, we don’t teach them a “soul.” This is part and parcel of the corruption of our moral imagination, a term that David Bromwich writes about in his essay in this journal. Today when we are speaking about American exceptionalism, we are increasingly not talking about our highest values—the American idea of freedom and the American idea of non-sovereign power; our moral imaginations are weak. Instead, American exceptionalism today means justifying imperial- ism or justifying actions that are certainly not what Arendt and Tocqueville would say makes America great. What Arendt teaches us is that there is an idea to America. It is up to us to preserve that idea.
1. Lawrence Lessig, Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Politics—And a Plan to Stop It, (New
York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011), 1.
2. Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960–2010 (New York: Crown
Forum, 2013), 11.
3. George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (New York: Farrar,
Straus & Giroux, 2014), 3.
4. John Winthrop, “A Modell of Christian Charity (1630),” Hanover Historical Texts
Project, accessed July 17, 2015, https://history.hanover.edu/texts/winthmod.html.
5. Thomas Paine, Common Sense (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), 120.
6. Philip Freneau, “On Mr. Paine’s Rights of Man,” Louisiana Tech University, accessed
July 17, 2015, http://www2.latech.edu/~bmagee/212/freneau/rights_man.htm.
7. Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Harvey Mansfield (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2002), II.1.ix.
8. Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address,” Abraham Lincoln Online, accessed July
17, 2015, http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm.
9. Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” poets.org, accessed July 17, 2015,
10. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream . . .,” (1963) accessed August, 2015,
11. Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (London: Penguin Classics, 2006), 141.
12. Ibid., 149.
13. Ibid., 152.
15. Ibid., 153–4 (citing James Madison).
16. Ibid., 166.
18. Ibid., 153.
19. Ibid., 235.
20. Ibid., 252.
21. Arthur J. Vidich and Joseph Bensman, Small Town in Mass Society: Class, Power, and
Religion in a Rural Community (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1958).
22. Ibid., 99.
23. Ibid., 113, 99
24. Ibid., 100.
25. Lessig, Republic Lost, 110.
26. Robert Pranger, “The Decline of the American National Government,” Publius 3, no. 2
27. Jonathan Rauch, Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working, (New York: