Those of us who write about elections tend to treat each new one as path-breaking. Finally, we tell ourselves, this time there will be an explicit choice between two different understandings of American purpose. Then the election happens, politics returns to normal, and not much changes.
But this time—2012—I really believe it. Though President Barack Obama is a cautious politician, temperamentally unsuited to laying out a strong...
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Alan Wolfe teaches political science at Boston College, where he is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. His most recent book is Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (Knopf).