Fear of decline is one of the oldest American impulses. When we feel we are in decline, we sense that we have lost our balance. We argue about what history teaches us—and usually disagree about what history actually says. We conclude that behind every crisis related to economics and the global distribution of power lurks a crisis of the soul.
In E.J. Dionne’s talk, “Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent,” from UC Santa Barbara’s Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public LIfe, the Washington Post columnist argues that underlying our political impasse is a lost sense of national balance that, in turn, reflects a loss of historical memory. Americans disagree about who we are because we can’t agree about who we’ve been.