1. First off, let me alert you that we’re having a debate between Jay Cost and Sean Trende (the two most prominent and astute of the young and constantly online political analysts) on the current presidential nomination system at Berry next Thursday, December 1 at 5:30 in Krannert. If you come, you get a free buffet dinner. Let me know if your coming, though (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. Jim’s article on GRATITUDE (actually public gratitude) below is great. I couldn’t get the website he recommends to bring it up. But you can get it from the Hoover site on its virtues page. There’s also a very fine article by Mansfield on courage and a version of Diana Schaub’s perhaps overly philosophic account of friendship.
3. On PUBLIC GRATITUDE, I can’t help but notice that country music stars, after performing, always express their gratitude to and concern for members of our military. Surely that’s the democratic beginning of public gratitude: Our gratitude for the leadership of our presidents lately is necessarily pretty ambiguous, but let’s begin with those who do the most indispensable and least controversial (if you think about it) and most courageous public service. That kind of gratitude comes easily to southerners, I think. They turn our attention away from the rebel cause during the Civil War to the virtue of loyalty to one’s own. (See Grant’s comments on the nobility of Lee’s surrender.) We can learn from the South that public gratitude has to be infused with loyalty to be sustainable, just as we can learn from the North that public gratitude has to be infused with both true principle and true religion to be sustainable.
4. Carl’s comment in the thread about Christianity and American exceptionalism also demands serious thought. Here are some thoughts that the experts at Hoover might take issue with: Most of what’s good about modernity comes from Christianity. Christianity leaves space for civil piety, but only if it’s not overdone. When it comes to equality, we owe more to Jesus than to Lincoln (see Tocqueville, who, contrary to some, would have fully appreciated the greatness of Lincoln). What’s exceptional about America in the West is the persistence of Christianity. The Sixties dealt bodyblows to instiutional Christianity. But they also liberated “Jesus freaks” and evangelical spirituality, which, despite its many flaws and questionable sustainability, is actually Christian. And the orthodox of various kinds—from the Jews to the Catholics—are waging a comeback that wasn’t expected by the sociologists, the Straussians, etc. There’s a lot more to be said here by Carl.
5. I’m teaching public policy for the first time next semester. Give me some advice.