Ben Peterson

Ben Peterson, a doctoral student in the Texas A&M Department of Political Science, has also written for the Intercollegiate Review, Public Discourse, Ethika Politika, and the New York Times.

National Sovereignty, Political Idea of the Year

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The year 2016 demonstrated the enduring relevance of political ideas. A political idea is distinct from and more fundamental than a stance on a policy or issue. It is a way of understanding political phenomena in light of a worldview. A political idea connects the dizzying array of available facts, forming a coherent vision of what is really happening in the world.

Nearly every political idea involves at minimum three components, corresponding to these questions:

  • What is a good society—in other words, what should the world look like?
  • Why doesn’t it look that way?
  • What would set things right?

Scholars, journalists, and analysts have attributed Trump’s victory, Brexit, and other nationalist advances to the forces of populism, demagoguery, and xenophobia.

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The False Promises of Presidential Leadership

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This century witnessed the “return of history” in international affairs, and has now shown that we Americans are not immune from the tendencies of human nature toward excessive ambition, and of political society—particularly democracy—toward oligarchy and tyranny. Americans are not exceptional.

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Putnam’s Quest for Community

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Robert Putnam is on a quest for community, but in his recent bestseller Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, he’s looking in the wrong place. Thinking more collectively will not restore America’s depleted “social capital.” We need a revival of human-scale institutions, based on a more realistic understanding of community. For that, we should turn to the late Robert Nisbet, a conservative sociologist who presaged Putnam’s quest, and Alan Ehrenhalt, a senior editor at Governing magazine and an accomplished journalist who supplies us concrete pictures of community in action. Our Kids is about the expanding opportunity gap facing kids in…

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