Former Senator Gary Hart Speaks on the Restoration of a Jeffersonian Republic
Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life
Former U.S. Senator
Date: September 18, 2002
Location: Gasson 305
On September 18th former U.S. Senator Gary Hart gave a public lecture on ideas presented in his new book Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st Century America (Oxford 2002). In his talk, he offered his view of the current crisis in the United States and possible structural changes that could address them. Hart argued that globalization has brought important changes in the world, citing the decline of nation-states, the rapid spread of information, and new forms of conflict as examples of these changes.
Hart focused on terrorism as a new issue we must confront, not only from abroad, but also from domestic sources. Reminding the audience that terrorism is not just an international issue, he cited the Oklahoma City bombing as an example of domestic terrorism that we need to protect against as well. The solution, from Hart’s view, is that Americans need to recognize that this country was formed as a republic and that it needs to return to ways that encourage the participation of citizens as a key to the continued success of the nation. He cited activity in town meetings, participation in schools, voting, and serving in the National Guard as examples of republican behavior that needs to be nurtured in local communities. Hart recalled Jeffersonian ideals of citizen participation, civic virtue, and the common good and argued strongly that a strengthening of these ideals is what our nation needs to succeed in the new century. Hart argued that Jefferson’s republic, if fully implemented in the United States, would better help the U.S. to deal with the challenges it faces now and in the future.