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Jill Lepore: Why America keeps going to pieces

A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. Jill Lepore, author of THESE TRUTHS, on the political divide, public shaming, and the future of democracy.
Key Takeaways
  • How the two parties got as ideologically divided as they are now. (Hint: Not the organic will of the people)
  • Public shaming: The dangers of using destructive means to constructive ends.

As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question ” . . . of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice . . . or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore‘s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault while in high school. Jill comments on this historical moment and much more.

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As she puts it in the book’s epilogue:

A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history.


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