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Democratic Fluency [clear filter]
Sunday, February 28
 

5:00pm EST

Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America, Today
Almost 200 years ago, a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States on a trip and ended up writing a book -- Democracy in America -- that is still regarded as one of the smartest books (if not THE smartest book) ever written about American politics and culture. What can we learn from Tocqueville about American democracy today? How can he help us understand not just the strengths but the weaknesses of our democratic system? And how can he help us understand how to be the best democratic citizens we can be?

Susan will be discussing the Introduction and two sections of de Tocqueville's book. We know this is a long reading! If you can skim it beforehand, it will enhance the discussion. 



Sunday February 28, 2021 5:00pm - 6:30pm EST
Zoom
 
Tuesday, March 2
 

7:00pm EST

Parties and American Democracy
Every observer of American politics today decries polarization and partisanship, which have all but eliminated pragmatism and compromise. In this session we inquire more deeply into the roots of disagreement in democracy. The Founders did not put the word “party” in the U.S. Constitution, and many think they anticipated that American national politics would be non-partisan. Yet as soon as national politics began in 1790, parties appeared. Are parties natural to democracy? Are there permanent sources of disagreement? Should we expect people to get along better than they do? Can we understand each side of the party divide as reasonable? This session aims to support thoughtful educators and citizens in navigating an age of intense partisan passions.

PRE-READING:  Please read the three readings linked below in advance of the session in order to get the most out of the discussion.

Speakers


Tuesday March 2, 2021 7:00pm - 8:30pm EST
Zoom
 
Thursday, March 4
 

7:00pm EST

Does the Constitution Mandate a Wall of Separation Between Church and State?
In this seminar, we will explore why the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment requires the “separation of church and state.” We also will discuss criticisms of separationist jurisprudence by leading Supreme Court justices. In an attempt to understand the degree to which the Supreme Court has accurately interpreted the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom, we will also carefully examine James Madison’s philosophical and constitutional thinking about religious freedom and how it might be best protected.

PRE-READING: Please read the three texts below in advance of the session in order to get the most out of the discussion.

Speakers
avatar for Phillip Muñoz

Phillip Muñoz

Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and, University of Notre Dame
Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. He is the Founding Director of ND’s undergraduate minor in Constitutional Studies and also directs Notre Dame’s Tocqueville... Read More →



Thursday March 4, 2021 7:00pm - 8:30pm EST
Zoom

7:00pm EST

Frederick Douglass's 1852 Speech: What Does It Mean to be an American
Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech on the Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro offers a sweeping analysis of the contradictions at the heart of the American national project. The animating question for Douglass is, What Does it Mean to be an African American? His approach to that question sheds light on the even more fundamental question: What Does it Mean to be an American? The speech is profoundly relevant today as we stand at another defining moment in our nation's history.

Speakers


Thursday March 4, 2021 7:00pm - 8:30pm EST
Zoom
 
Sunday, March 7
 

5:00pm EST

Is it worth it? Meditations on National Sacrifice and National Longing
Pericles Funeral Oration in the Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War describes what is virtuous and worthy of love in Athenian democracy. Together, we will read this text alongside Thucydides’ eviscerating description of the Plague and examine the purpose and fragility of democratic life. We will ask ourselves what about our country is worthy of admiration and sacrifice? What values must we preserve under any and all conditions? Finally, we will turn to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, listening for the echoes of Pericles, and challenge ourselves to describe the value of a government by the people and for the people.

Speakers


Sunday March 7, 2021 5:00pm - 6:30pm EST
Zoom