Magazine September 13, 2021, Issue

What Truths Do We Still Hold to Be Self-Evident?

Detail of The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, by John Trumbull (Public domain/Yale University Art Gallery)
Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal, by George Packer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 240 pp., $27)

‘With all our divisions,” asks George Packer, “what do we have in common? Is there some underlying adhesive that can make us one country again? Can we still call all to the duty we owe to each?” In his new book, the Atlantic writer tackles these questions with honesty and palpable devotion to the American ideal — or his version of it, anyway.

Packer looks across America’s increasingly fractured politics and fears that we have lost “the first truth of our founding document, the one that leads to all the others,” namely the principle of equality. “At the heart of our

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This article appears as “Divided America” in the September 13, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Mario Loyola is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program of Florida International University, and a visiting fellow at the National Security Institute of George Mason University. The opinions expressed in this column are his alone.

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