Does America set a good moral example for the world? NPR’s Phoenix affiliate station KJZZ recently interviewed me about PRRI’s 2017 survey of American values. (PRRI, or Public Religion Research Institute, is a nonpartisan national polling organization). Interviewer Steve Goldtein of NPR was specifically interested in one of PRRI’s survey questions regarding the changing status of America’s moral leadership internationally. In response to this important question, I try to quickly get to the heart of the matter in this 7 minute audio interview. I invite comments below.
Part of what NPR left out of the 20 minute recorded interview was my discussion of a recent PBS documentary, hosted by Jim Lehrer, about the possible end of America’s role as the primary defender of modernity worldwide. The documentary highlighted that even though the U.S. wants E.U. countries to foot more of the bill for global stability, and even though both the U.S. and the E.U. decry this relationship of dependency, neither has shown a real willingness to end it. The fact that the U.S. can’t afford this anymore is part of what Trump’s voters were signaling. However, although liberal modernity is threatened from external enemies without, it is also threatened from within its own culture—by postmodernism’s strident rejection of modernity, despite its gifts and accomplishments. Culturally transcending and including postmodernism may thus be America’s main opportunity for moral leadership in the time ahead.
There is obviously much more to say about this matter, but these seven minutes at least provide some food for thought.