E.J. Dionne Reflects on America Today

In early May, journalist E.J. Dionne delivered the Burke Lectureship at UC San Diego, marking his ninth appearance on UCTV. Known for his political columns in the Washington Post, Dionne addressed America’s growing social isolation and loneliness, calling for a renewed focus on community and faith to heal the nation’s divisions.

Dionne honored the spirit of the Burke Lectureship, dedicated to the intersection of religion and public life, by urging a collective approach to solving shared problems. “I have strong political views. But in honor of Father Burke’s ecumenical spirit, I thought it would be good today to… think about problems we all share and all worry about: family and community, loneliness and despair, the search for faith and hope,” he said.

Emphasizing the importance of democracy, Dionne asserted that democracies, despite their flaws, are better equipped to address societal issues than authoritarian regimes. “I will not be able to resist making a case for democracy before I’m done, because I worry that we use that word a lot but are not willing to stand up for it to acknowledge that for all their flaws, democracies in the end do a better job of solving problems than authoritarian and tyrannical regimes. Being a small ‘d’ democrat means recognizing the dignity of each and all of us and everyone’s role in defining the common good.”

Central to Dionne’s message was the power of communities to bridge divides. He explored how neighborhoods, religious groups, and cultural centers can unite people from diverse backgrounds, fostering commonalities and strengthening democratic values. “In a democracy, there are no final victories, which means there are no final defeats,” Dionne noted, underscoring the continuous effort required to sustain democracy.

Watch “Healing a Divided America” to hear more from E.J. Dionne.