Jon D. Schaff is professor of political science at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota where he teaches courses on American politics and political thought. He is author of Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy (SIU Press) and co-author of Age of Anxiety: Meaning, Identity, and Politics in 21st Century Film and Literature (Lexington Books). He lives in Aberdeen with his wife and four children.
As a new school year begins, Jon Schaff takes stock of the effects of Covid on education. Learning is relationship, and, if the point of college, as the very term “college” implies, is to come together for the enterprise of learning, that coming together has to be more than a name or face on a screen.
We do not need reminding of how bitter, partisan, and polarized American politics is today. In order to have a community, people need to hold some things in common. America in 2020 is increasingly a nation of people who share a geography while holding wildly differing values.
The global middle class of Kotkin’s subtitle must unite with the working class for a new Magna Carta for the 21st Century, one that will, in Lincoln’s words, make us “independent of crowned-kings, money-kings, and land-kings.”
Let us not, however, in our haste to condemn Reno for his imprudent practical advice, ignore the truth of the underlying point. Religious believers hold that there is more to existence than this material life.
One need not support every economic prescription of the distributists or Lincoln. Each, however, presents certain principles that we can use to orient our economic thinking in the era of global capitalism.
Protestants and American Conservatism reveals a capacious knowledge of American religious history. As skeptics of the liberal order slowly work out a positive vision for the republic, they now know that they have forebears from which to learn, both in their success and defeats.