Chris DeMuth’s new essay powerfully and convincingly argues that well-functioning representative government is a necessary condition for national cohesion in our democratic age.

DeMuth is not starry-eyed about legislatures, or legislators. He knows that their deliberations generate “posturing, parochialism, and muddled compromises” rather than efficient or optimal policies. And yet, like James Burnham long before him, DeMuth is wise enough to see the virtues of the representative mode of public reasoning, which allows multiple factions to learn how they can live with each other through some complicated, continually evolving process of mutual accommodation.

I find his vision of Congress rediscovering some of its virtues in response to a fiscal crisis especially stirring:

When Congress is obliged to fund a much larger share of entitlement and welfare spending with tax revenues, it will just have to pick up its fiscal reins and exercise a level of collective discipline that no current member has experienced. The political parties will have to wake up from populist hallucinations over taxation, redistribution, and economic growth. And American citizens will acquire a much keener sense of their obligations to one another.

Continue reading in The American Mind.

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Topics: Representation & Leadership