Kids Today

Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2015.


My takeaway from all this was expressed in the closing chapter of my own work on Putnam’s topic, Coming Apart (2012). Very briefly, I don’t think America’s civic culture will be revitalized by the kinds of programs that Our Kids advocates. If it is to happen, it must be through a cultural Great Awakening that leads the elites to reengage in America’s traditional civic culture; one that reverses what Robert Reich memorably labeled “the secession of the successful.” Being willing to pay higher taxes to finance more social programs is not what I have in mind.

But let’s face it: my strategy does not have more chance of working than Putnam’s does. The parsimonious way to extrapolate the trends that Putnam describes so well is to predict an America permanently segregated into social classes that no longer share the common bonds that once made this country so exceptional, accompanied by the destruction of the national civic culture that Putnam and I both cherish.

Claremont Review of Books