Goldman responds to commentators who believe that Americans must return to some overarching identity and purpose. He argues that this task is difficult when the conditions that allowed previous unity no longer exist. Moreover, nationalists do not reasonably explain programs that could reignite a meaningful shared identity.
King recognized that for nations, as for individuals, the measure of goodness is not perfection, but rather direction. America was born headed in the right direction—and continues to build a “more perfect union” dreamed up by imperfect men.
In the fervor to recognize Abraham Lincoln’s invaluable contributions to the abolition of slavery, his commitment to the rule of law and the constitutional limits on presidential power has been obscured.