"The main reason we find it difficult to think critically about democracy is that it requires us to think critically about ourselves." That's the view of my guest today, Robert Tracy McKenzie, a historian at Wheaton College. In his recent book We the Fallen People: The Founders and the Future of American Democracy , he argues that Americans - and American Christians in particular have forgotten what the framers always knew: that human beings are flawed, broken, inclined towards sin - in other words, fallen. He contrasts this view of fallen humanity with what he calls the "democratic gospel", based on the "comforting fiction that we are naturally good". In this conversation we discuss the development of the idea that "America is great because America is good" (which Tocqueville never actually said); argue about the extent to which democracy is intrinsically good, or mostly good as means to other ends; discuss the balance between two different Christian anthropologies, one positive one negative; the use and misuse of history by political partisans; and the need for religious people, in particular, to take history more seriously. He's an interesting thinker, a terrific writer and this was a fun conversation.
(Robert) Tracy McKenzie
McKenzie is a Professor of History at Wheaton College, where he holds the Arthur F. Holmes Chair of Faith and Learning. He blogs about Christian faith and American History at faithandamericanhistory.wordpress.com