Has Obama Convinced Americans About the Importance of Community?
tnr.com — While neither political party has a monopoly on “community,” in recent years Democrats have been more inclined than Republicans to invoke it — none more conspicuously than Barack Obama. In the peroration of the 2012 State of the Union address, he declared that “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.” On one level, Obama was offering what he takes to be a cool statement of fact: America works well when it works together. But for the duration of his presidency, Obama has also been saying more than that. Indeed, undergirding many of Obama’s pronouncements about the country’s economic life has been a distinctly ethical claim: that Americans are deeply connected to their fellow citizens, and that we must act on the basis of those bonds. Even as we compete, we must cooperate. The question remains: How effective will Obama’s version be?