In the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush campaigned on the idea of being a "uniter, not a divider". His successor, Barack Obama, made post-partisanship the centerpiece of his bid for president. Even Donald Trump, who invited every woman who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment to sit in the audience during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton, made promises of unifying the country once in office.
But what if these calls for unity were misguided? What if political unity was not only not a requirement for a well-functioning democracy, but a sign that something was wrong?
This is the argument put forth by Bob Talisse in his new book, Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side. Bob is the Chair of the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University and has an extensive body of work on the subject of political polarization in American politics.
I sat down with him to discuss his new book in this episode of YDHTY. You can listen via the player below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever your bad self gets your podcasts.
His new book, Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side, can be purchased here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/sustaining-democracy-9780197556450?cc=us&lang=en&
His earlier book, Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in Its Place, can be found here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/overdoing-democracy-9780190924195?cc=us&lang=en&
You can watch the TedX talk that inspired his most recent book here: