American Political Literature

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Citizenship & Sacrifice

Inscription by Charlie McGonegal, a soldier who lost both hands in World War I, at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, just five blocks from Capitol Hill Hotel, near the Botanic Gardens. The monument was dedicated by President Obama in 2014.

Schedule

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(Information about grading for this course)

Assigned readings:

Yuval Levin: A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream

Danielle Allen, Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education

Anonymous (Joe Klein), Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics.

Sunday March 27 @7:30. Read Levin, Chapter 1; Anonymous, pp. 1-60 (Chapters 1 & 2).

April 3. Read Levin, Chapter 2; Anonymous, Chapter 3, and excerpt from James T. Patterson, Restless Giant: United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore, 245-249 (just to the first paragraph break).

April 4: Movie night: "The War Room."

April 10. Read Allen, Talking to Strangers, 161, 165-169 top; Chapter 3; Anonymous, Chapter 4, 95-144.

This week, as you write in your journal, consider the energy in your office and how it compares with the energy in the Clinton campaign, depicted in the War Room, and Primary Colors.

April 17. Read Levin, Chapter 3; Anonymous, Chapter 5, 145-185. And write something (See the email I sent on April 7).

April 24. Read Levin, Chapter 5; Anonymous, Chapter 6, 186-236; and the rest of the excerpt I gave you from Restless Giant (249+). Turn in journals.

Write in your journals: What would a "Party of Congress" look like? A "Party of Phillips Exeter Academy"? Would you be interested in joining?

Democracy and sacrifice

May 1. Read Allen, 4 (the photograph of Elizabeth Eckford) & 25-49, Anonymous, Chapter 7, 237-266. Turn in journals

Journal: Schools should be teaching citizenship, not promoting social justice. Democratic citizens need to know how to talk to strangers and the role of sacrifice in a democracy.

Political friendship

May 8. Read Allen, Chapter 9 & Anonymous, Chapter 7, pp. 266-306.

Journal prompt: What, according to Allen, is "political friendship"? and how do happens to self-interest in political friendship?

What is the relationship between human goodness and institutions.

May 15. Read Levin, 123-128, 163-180; Anonymous, Chapter 8, 307-376. (Note: We are going to a Nationals Baseball game today, so do your reading and journal ahead)

Journal prompt. I need some help with these last two readings from Levin. I've always sided with Rousseau and against Hobbes when it comes to thinking about human goodness and its relationship to civilization and institutions. And yet I seen to agree with everything Levin is saying. Do I need to be more critical of Levin? Or should I abandon my left-wing assumptions about human nature, the role of institutions, and their relationship to human freedom? Or is their some way to reconcile my Rousseauian inclinations with Levin's institutionalism? What would a progressive institutionalism look like?

Re: Primary Colors, reminder. Themes from the previous reading: The politics of race in the Democratic Party--Luther Charles, Henry's father, and Richmond Rucker, 267, 271, 273, 277, 278. Jack Stanton: What did Henry learn from Gail Powell: 269. The McCollister affair: 291-292. Henry and Daisy, 279, 283, 294-296; Daisy's mom: 280-283. Freddy Picker, 284-290. Libby: 287 "There's always something." David Adler, 293; Susan and Henry, 298-300. Geraldo debate, 300.

Strangers, Friends, Institutions, Democracy (putting it all together)

May 22. Read Levin, 181-204 (to the end); Finish Anonymous, Chapter 9 & Afterward by Joe Klein.

Journal & discussion prompt. I need some help with these last two readings from Levin. I've always sided with Rousseau and against Hobbes when it comes to thinking about human goodness and its relationship to civilization and institutions. And yet I seen to agree with everything Levin is saying. Do I need to be more critical of Levin? Or should I abandon my left-wing assumptions about human nature, the role of institutions, and their relationship to human freedom? Or is their some way to reconcile my Rousseauian inclinations with Levin's institutionalism? What would a progressive institutionalism look like?

Also, would Allen's theory be included in what Levin calls "complicated theories about how to build trust" (p. 200)?

May 26. Write final essay.

For information about grading for this course.

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