Michael J Sandel in The New York Times:
In recent decades, American public discourse has become hollow and shrill. Instead of morally robust debates about the common good, we have shouting matches on talk radio and cable television, and partisan food fights in Congress. People argue past one another, without really listening or seeking to persuade. This condition has diminished the public’s regard for political parties and politicians, and also given rise to a danger: A politics empty of moral argument creates a vacuum of meaning that is often filled by the vengeful certitudes of strident nationalism. This danger now hovers over American politics. More than a year into the presidency of Donald Trump, however, liberals and progressives have yet to articulate a politics of the common good adequate to the country’s predicament.
Robert B. Reich’s new book, “The Common Good,” is a welcome response to this challenge. One of the most prominent voices among progressives, Reich has written insightfully about the changing nature of work brought about by globalization and the growing inequality it has generated. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, but in 2016 endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Reich’s book diagnoses the decline of the common good in American life and suggests ways of restoring it. He begins by observing that even the term has fallen into disuse: “The common good is no longer a fashionable idea. The phrase is rarely uttered today, not even by commencement speakers and politicians.” Reich defines the common good as consisting in “our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are bound together in the same society.” What binds us as Americans, he argues, is not birth or ethnicity but a commitment to fundamental ideals and principles: respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions, toleration of our differences and belief in equal political rights and equal opportunity.