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Ambition in AmericaPolitical Power and the Collapse of Citizenship$
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Jeffrey A. Becker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145044

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145044.001.0001

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The Collapse of Modern Citizenship

The Collapse of Modern Citizenship

(p.143) Conclusion The Collapse of Modern Citizenship
Ambition in America

Jeffrey A. Becker

University Press of Kentucky

Contemporary politics preaches ideals of universal education and citizenship, but American education no longer places much value on training citizens in the virtues and practices of being a citizen. Democratic politics benefits when institutions make a place for middle virtues in a democratic regime, rather than focusing on the highest virtues of nobility and valor. This chapter argues that reimagined political parties can provide a structure for ambitious people to connect with one’s surrounding community in ways that support dignity. To do so requires citizens to recover an understanding of authority not reflexively hostile to guidance by others. When people exalt individual demands for respect, and cater to personal self-esteem, they diminish the value of common citizenship, and neglect the ways unglamorous and selfless public service can also dignify our politics.

Keywords:   ambition, citizenship, patriotism, friendship, dignity

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