Who are we as a nation? And what is it that’s tearing us apart?
E.J. Dionne’s new book, Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury USA, 2012), argues that from the very beginning, our country has been characterized by a deep but healthy tension between our love of individual liberty and our devotion to community. Yet we seem to have forgotten our own rich history of balance, one reason for our poisoned political atmosphere. Calling Dionne’s book “brilliant” in a recent Newsweek column, Paul Begala noted: “Dionne argues that we must honor the tensions between two strains of the American Dream: the rugged individualists who respect those who make it on their own; and the communitarians who revere the Americans who help their neighbors, fight our fires, and wage our wars. Both are central to the American character.”
On May 29, Brookings hosted a discussion with Dionne about the lost balance between individualism and community, its corrosive implications for the political environment and policymaking, and how to seek a path forward from our current impasse and our fears of decline. Brookings Senior Fellow Tom Mann provided introductory remarks and led a conversation with Dionne. Following the program, Dionne took audience questions.
The author signed books before and after the program.
Participants followed the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DivHeart.