The Public Interest

The religion of democracy

Peter Berkowitz

Winter 1996

IN January of 1993, in an Inaugural Address that championed .change and celebrated diversity, President Bill Clinton also issued a call for continuity. “There is nothing wrong with America,” President Clinton declared, “that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” By this fine formulation, vaguely reminiscent of the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, Clinton seemed to mean that the remedies for the ills that afflicted America were not to be found in radical change nor in reactionary entrenchment against change but, rather, must come from the prudent marshalling of the internal resources embodied in the American political tradition. As a New Democrat and founding member of the Democrat Leadership Council, Clinton had appeared, during the campaign of 1992, committed to the proposition that the Democratic party had to shed its image as the party of expansive personal freedoms and relentless egalitarian reform and had to correct the widespread perception that it was hostile to traditional American principles and virtues. 

Download a PDF of the full article.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.