"In "The Fractured Republic," Yuval Levin argues that this politics of nostalgia is failing twenty-first-century Americans. Both parties are blind to how America has changed over the past half century--as the large, consolidated institutions that once dominated our economy, politics, and culture have fragmented and become smaller, more diverse, and personalized. Individualism, dynamism, and liberalization have come at the cost of dwindling solidarity, cohesion, and social order. This has left us with more choices in every ...
"In "The Fractured Republic," Yuval Levin argues that this politics of nostalgia is failing twenty-first-century Americans. Both parties are blind to how America has changed over the past half century--as the large, consolidated institutions that once dominated our economy, politics, and culture have fragmented and become smaller, more diverse, and personalized. Individualism, dynamism, and liberalization have come at the cost of dwindling solidarity, cohesion, and social order. This has left us with more choices in every realm of life but less security, stability, and national unity. Both our strengths and our weaknesses are therefore consequences of these changes. And the dysfunctions of our fragmented national life will need to be answered by the strengths of our decentralized, diverse, dynamic nation."--Provided by publisher.
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Levin, Yuval, 2016,The Fractured Republic. Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism: NY, Basic Books, 262 p., index.
The irony of this book is in the origin of the author who is from Israel. Moreover, of the two primary advisors, Ramed Ponnuru is East Indian and Reihan Salem is 2nd generation Bangladesh. So we have three newcomers, resident in the northeastern part of the United States, telling us what is wrong with America.
As it turns out, plenty is wrong with America. Thus we have a host of conflicting parties (polarization) of which the main ones are:
Liberals vs. Conservatives Blacks vs. Whites
Progressives vs. Conservatives Communists vs. Anticommunists
Democrats vs. Republicans Drug Users vs. non Drug Users
Christians vs. Muslims Immigrants vs. Natives
Creationists vs. Evolutionists Roe vs. Wade (abortion or not)
Men vs. Women GLTBs vs. Straights
The lengthy abstract in WorldCat which is taken directly from the book cover arbitrarily emphasizes the differences between the polarization of the Left and the Right and between the haves and the have-nots. In actuality, the title of the book may well be The Fractured Family. How can you have a Republic when 41% of its families (page. 154), the basic building block, are fractured? Other building blocks covered to a lesser extent in the book include work, religion, and community.
The book is not easy to read with its complex sentence structure, with the overuse of adjectives and with the varied subject matter. Still the reasonably good index provides quick access to key items. Thus we find in the index a smattering of family problems under the words abortion, baby boomers, divorce rate, drug abuse, economy and income inequality, family breakdown, family life, marriage rate, out-of-wedlock birth rate, same sex marriage, sexual morality, sexual revolution, single parents, teen pregnancy, and the like.
For those with a limited amount of reading time, key pages are pages 90-91. Here the key figures are "68 percent of women [mainly Blacks] without a high school degree [who] gave birth were not married, 41 percent with a high school degree but no college degree who gave birth were unmarried, while only 6 percent of women with a college degree who gave birth were unmarried."
On page 154, the key figures are "in 1955 . . . roughly 4.5 percent of children born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers [and later] in 2015, . . . just over 41 percent who gave birth . . . [to unmarried mothers].
The book covers trends in the work place, the second building block, only in spurts and starts. The book inadvertently mentions that since World War II women have increasing entered the work force at lower levels of employment and slowly are encroaching on management levels.
And coverage of religion, the third building block, in this book is somewhat haphazard. Resource to internet sources indicate that the main religions still are Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Baptists, and Roman Catholics. Among these, attendance appears to be declining somewhat, but perhaps this is an illusion as large numbers of small independent churches are springing up throughout the cities. At any rate, the reviewer notes that when the current standard mode of dress in churches among the "baby boomers" [born 1946-1964] is T-shirts, flip-flops, shorts and minis, the churches are undergoing a minor evolution. As the author states, since the 1970s, "a massive movement is away from institutional religion (and) towards a do-it-yourself spirituality."
The author cites recent and ever changing trends of globalization, automation, immigration (skilled vs. unskilled) and consumerization as being worldwide complicating factors.
The author suggests as solutions a decentralization and decluttering at all levels of government, particularly at the top and a return to enhancing authority in the community, the fourth building block.
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