|Harry C. Boyte a1|
a1 Is codirector of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, where he is a senior fellow (Hboyte@hhh.umn.edu). He is also on the graduate school faculty of the College of Liberal Arts. Boyte thanks Marie-Louise Ström, Ed Fogelman, Mary Dietz, Jennifer Hochschild, Lisa Burrell, and three anonymous reviewers for feedback on this article.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan once argued, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.” Today, politics, as conventionally understood, illustrates the unspoken danger in Moynihan's point. Politics itself reflects larger trends that point not toward success but toward social failure. Superficial sloganeering, domination by marketplace modes of thought, and bitter sectarian divisions—cultural patterns also evident in politics—made “being political” an accusation of choice in the 2002 elections. These patterns are creating a civic illness that seems both all-pervasive and ineluctable.