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Friday Forums

In Partnership with Wheaton College

We the Fallen People: Redefining Ourselves for a Healthier Democracy

Hillsdale College Kirby Center
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Abandoning the view of human nature that guided the country’s Founders, Americans for two centuries have justified democracy on false and romantic grounds. We think too highly of ourselves, and this comforting misperception magnifies our partisan polarization, intensifies our frustration with democratic institutions, and heightens our susceptibility to authoritarianism. A necessary first step to a healthier democracy will be to redefine ourselves as “We the Fallen People.”

During this Friday Forum, Dr. McKenzie argued that we must take an unflinching look at the very nature of democracy—its strengths and weaknesses, what it can promise, and where it overreaches.

For further reading, feel free to read Thomas J. Wilson's review of Dr McKenzie's book, "Reappraising American Goodness: A Review of McKenzie’s We the Fallen People" January 26, 2022 in Providence Magazine.

Robert Tracy McKenzie holds the Arthur Holmes Chair of Faith and Learning and is professor of History at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. A long-time specialist on the American Civil War, in recent years he has focused his attention on the ways that American Christians remember—and misremember—the nation’s past. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently We the Fallen People: The Founders and the Future of American Democracy (Intervarsity Press—Academic, 2021).