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The Fractured Republic Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism

Thursday June 2016


Yuval Levin Editor, National Affairs

Americans are frustrated and anxious. The U.S. economy is sluggish. Cultural divisions and political polarization increasingly divide the country. Governing institutions seem paralyzed. And each side believes that returning to its political golden age—for the Left, LBJ’s Great Society; for the Right, the Reagan Era—could fix America’s problems.

This politics of nostalgia is also failing, observes distinguished political commentator Yuval Levin in The Fractured Republic. Both parties, says Levin, are blind to how America has changed over the past half century: the large, consolidated institutions that once dominated the economy, politics, and culture have fragmented and become more diverse and personalized. Americans now benefit from more choices in every realm of life; but they also suffer from less security, stability, and national unity.

The growing dysfunction of America’s fragmented national life, argues Levin in The Fractured Republic, can only be resolved by harnessing the strengths of decentralization, diversity, and dynamism. “[The Fractured Republic] provides the bracing shock of illumination that is the hallmark of all great essays” (Commentary). “Levin is one of the most insightful and original thinkers of our time” (Paul Ryan).

Yuval Levin is the founder and editor of National Affairs and the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a former White House and congressional staffer and a contributing editor to National Review and the Weekly Standard. Levin holds a B.A. from American University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.