In We the Fallen People, Tracy McKenzie takes on the conviction that the moral intuition of the American electorate is the basis for our democratic flourishing. This belief is summarized in the phrase, “America is great because she is good.”
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.
Renewed debates over history reveal the narratives that conservatives and progressives employ to justify or decry American history. One narrative insists on lionizing historical figures, the other on demonizing them—yet both distract from the ongoing pursuit of the American ideals of justice, liberty, and equality.
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.
Rather than taking each other’s strongest arguments, people arguing over Catholic Integralism often defeat straw men or completely dodge arguments. This does not advance the conversation so that learning and mutual edification may occur.
Nationalists believe that humanity is divided into mutually distinct, internally coherent groups defined by shared traits like language, religion, or culture, and that these groups should each have their own governments. There is an alternative.