Toward a Communitarian Politics: Prospects for a Bipartisan Movement


While the American Project at Pepperdine School of Public Policy has focused on exploring the history and future implications of a "conservatism of connection" in our policy and politics, the philosophical and practical background of communitarianism has stretched across partisan boundaries. From thinkers—like Robert Nisbet and Hannah Ahrendt—to policy influencers—like Peter Berger and John McKnight—the seeds of a multi-partisan movement were sewn decades ago.

In particular, the 1990s provide an interesting precedent for a reimagined communitarian movement for the 21st century. Recent American Project panels have highlighted a thriving consensus during that decade, which involved policymakers across Democratic and Republican presidential and gubernatorial administrations. This coalition seemed to collapse with 9/11 and a dramatic swing toward federal and international policy.

As the pandemic highlights the societal challenges brought about by loneliness and alienation, could the time be right for a revived communitarian movement with its focus on local engagement and the strengthening of our civic institutions?

On Monday, April 5, 2020 Pepperdine School of Public Policy hosted two civic practitioners - one from the left, the other from the right—as they discussed the prospects (and challenges) for a new communitarian consensus in our public policy and politics.

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