Every headline you see these days seems to talk about how divided our country has become. What’s the solution?
Senator Orrin Hatch suggests that the answer was written right into America’s Founding from the beginning:
We can transcend tribal tolerance by embracing a forgotten virtue, one that lies at the heart of our nation’s founding: Pluralism.
Pluralism, as a political concept, has a rich intellectual pedigree that traces its roots to the Federalist Papers. When James Madison assumed the difficult task of uniting 13 diverse states under one Constitution, the solution he settled on was institutional pluralism — that is, creating a system of government that would allow for a multiplicity of factions to flourish to ensure that no single faction dominates.
The Founders, in all their prescient wisdom, understood that diversity is the boon — not the bane — of our democracy. They envisioned a nation in which a panoply of people, principles and beliefs could exist peacefully alongside each other. That’s why they put pluralism at the core of their constitutional project.
Pluralism is the alchemy that makes “out of many, one” possible. It is the practice of true tolerance: respecting others’ beliefs even, or perhaps especially, when they differ from our own. Pluralism is the middle ground between absolutism and relativism. It recognizes that there is not just one way to achieve the good life but multiple — and it does its best to accommodate for each.
Applied to the public sphere, pluralism offers us a truce to the culture wars — and a paradigmatic shift in the way we approach politics. All too often, Republicans and Democrats view politics through an absolutist prism that recasts everything as an either-or fallacy. If President Donald Trump is reelected, our democracy will die, we say; or, if Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes President, it will be the end of America as we know it. This distorted way of thinking renders every tiny policy squabble as a Manichean struggle for the soul of the country.
Read Senator Hatch’s full op-ed here.