With the hope that the self-promotion involved doesn’t obviate whatever potential value the words written may convey, here is something I wrote, which I’d like to believe will be of interest to at least some of the Front Porch Republic audience, on the theme of civic friendship and neighborliness in a time of polarized anger. My thanks to William O. Pate of San Antonio Review for giving it a home. Here’s a taste of from near the conclusion of this heavily Lincoln-centric essay, so you can tell if it’s your cup or tear or not:
Election workers, poll observers, really everyone involved in the mechanics of making representative systems work: they may not see themselves as avatars of civic friendship in their commitment to this very ordinary, in many ways very boring work which they do, but, nonetheless, I think they embody exactly the low-level, even humble hope which [civic friendship is all about]….Maybe they’re personally religious, or maybe they’re not, but one way of speaking of the civic conviction which brings them out to volunteer is a kind of civil religion. They really must have — as most of us, most of the time, I am confident, similarly have — some kind of faith that people can govern themselves, and that people like you and me and all of them and all of us can be trusted, whatever the legitimate and even necessary extremities of our different views, to go through the electoral rituals of American democracy, and not just overturn all the tables without cause.