National Affairs editor Levin (The Fractured Republic) examines how American society lost faith in its institutions in the 21st century and proposes steps to renew the public trust in this sober, conservatively minded inquiry. According to Levin, durability and structure are the defining characteristics of such institutions as Congress, the mainstream press, universities, corporations, the family, and the rule of law. “By giving shape to our experience of life in society,” he writes, “institutions give shape to our place in the world.” Individuals lose trust in an institution, he contends, when it is internally corrupted or when it becomes a platform to display individuality rather than to mold character. Levin sees the effects of such institutional degradation in “culture-war politics,” declining marriage and birth rates, and white Evangelicals’ loyalty to President Trump. He calls on Americans to reform institutions from within by being more trustworthy, aligning their personal and institutional identities, and working harder to understand opposing viewpoints. The modesty of Levin’s proposals feels both refreshing and anticlimactic, and liberals are likely to find him too dismissive of the inequities that exist within institutions. Mainstream Republicans dismayed by the current state of their party, however, will savor this well-reasoned and hopeful study. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/07/2019 Release date: 01/21/2020 Genre: Nonfiction
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