Cover image for The Seven Democratic Virtues: What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Our Democracy By Christopher Beem

The Seven Democratic Virtues

What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Our Democracy

Christopher Beem

PRE-ORDER, Releases August 30

$29.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09394-9

Available as an e-book

236 pages
5.5" × 8.5"
2022

The Seven Democratic Virtues

What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Our Democracy

Christopher Beem

“Beem uses his deep understanding of Western philosophical and theological traditions, plus contemporary social and cognitive psychology, to construct a strong and distinctive argument that we must cultivate certain virtues to combat polarization and misinformation. He offers essential guidance for anyone who cares about democracy.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
The insurrection of January 6, 2021, demonstrated conclusively that tribalism in the United States has become dangerous. The “other side” is no longer viewed as a well-intentioned opponent but as an existential threat. If we don’t change course, American democracy is far from assured.

This book outlines specific steps that average citizens can take to back the nation away from the brink. Instead of looking to political leaders, institutions, or policy for solutions to extreme partisanship, Christopher Beem argues that concerned citizens can and must take up the cause. He spells out seven civic practices we can all follow that will help us work against our antidemocratic tendencies and reorient the nation toward the “more perfect union” of our Founders. Beem’s road map to restore our democracy draws on thinkers from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas to James Madison, Hannah Arendt, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Empathetic and eminently reasonable, The Seven Democratic Virtues presents practical advice for what each of us can do to change the political discourse and save our democracy. This is necessary reading for our politics today—and in the future.

“Beem uses his deep understanding of Western philosophical and theological traditions, plus contemporary social and cognitive psychology, to construct a strong and distinctive argument that we must cultivate certain virtues to combat polarization and misinformation. He offers essential guidance for anyone who cares about democracy.”
“No one has mined the history of the Western intellectual tradition on the virtues and done nearly so good of a job in transposing those rich resources into the context of twenty-first-century democratic politics. Beem’s treatment takes old, dusty texts and breathes urgent vitality into them for the reform of our civic life.”
“When we think of democracy as simply a mechanism for making collective decisions, we overlook the fact that democracy is also the moral proposal that free and equal citizens can live together as a self-governing community, despite their ongoing political disagreements. Of course, in recognizing this moral dimension of democracy, we also confront the fact that democracy is not easy. In this engaging and important book, Christopher Beem makes an impassioned case for recovering the idea of democratic civic virtues, the dispositions and practices that citizens need to conduct themselves well amidst political conflict. John Dewey once wrote that democracy is a ‘task before us.’ Christopher Beem reminds us that democracy also sets a task within us.”

Christopher Beem is Managing Director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Associate Research Professor of Political Science, and Affiliate Faculty in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. He is the author or coeditor of five books, including The Necessity of Politics: Reclaiming American Public Life and Democratic Humility: Reinhold Niebuhr, Neuroscience, and America’s Political Crisis. He is a cohost of the Democracy Works podcast and a frequent contributor to The Conversation.

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Part 1: The Democratic Vice

1. Tribalism

2. Tribal Alignment

3. Tribalism and Madison’s Precautions

Part 2: Democratic Thinking

4. Humility

5. Honesty

6. Consistency

Part 3: Democratic Acting

7. Courage

8. Temperance

Part 4: Democratic Belief

9. Charity

10. Faith (and Hope)

Conclusion: Democratic Excellence

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction