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An Agenda for Moderates

11 209 9921
27.02.2019

Ideas drive history. But not just any ideas, magnetic ideas. Ideas so charismatic that people devote their lives to them.

In his 1999 book, “The Real American Dream,” Andrew Delbanco described the different ideas that, at different stages, drove American history. The first stage in our history was driven by a belief in God. The Pilgrims came because God called them to do so. God’s plans for humanity were to be completed on this continent.

The second phase, through the 19th century, was organized around Nation. The pioneers were settling the West. It was the age of American exceptionalism. America was to be a universal nation, a home and model for all humankind, the last best hope of earth.

The third phase, from 1960 to today, was organized around Self. Each individual should throw off constraints. The best life was the life of maximum self-expression, self-actualization and maximum personal freedom, economic as well as lifestyle.

We are now leaving the era of Self. The right and left now offer two different magnetic ideas. The Trumpian right offers Tribe. “Our” kind of people are under threat from “their” kind of people. We need to erect walls, build barriers and fight. The earlier American nationalism was about frontier; this is about the fortress. Tribalism is a magnetic idea that has mobilized people from time........

© The New York Times