The Politics of Dignity
An Agenda to Unite America's Moderate Majority
Kerry Murphy Healey
Rejecting the extreme policies and divisive rhetoric of both the left and the right, tens of millions of moderates are seeking a more uplifting and unifying vision for America. Cross-partisan grassroots movements, like Issue One and RepresentUS, are battling to defend democratic institutions. And in Congress, new bipartisan centrist coalitions like the Problem Solvers Caucus and the ReFormers Caucus are gaining momentum and clout. Yet, as the writer David Brooks has said, today’s moderate movement lacks a “magnetic idea.” If we want to mend our splintered system, these brave new centrists need a foundational principle that animates their policies—and organizes their agenda—into a positive, clear, unifying program of forward-looking change.
In this pathbreaking book, former Massachusetts lieutenant governor and Babson College president Kerry Murphy Healey argues that respect for each person’s human dignity is that missing principle. By placing human dignity at the center of our national policy debate, Healey lays out a new agenda to acknowledge and address the legitimate grievances underlying today’s toxic political polarization. Along the way, a focus on dignity can help us build stronger communities—and with them, a more tolerant, socially cohesive, and respectful America.
The importance of dignity as America’s guiding principle can be traced back to our nation’s Bill of Rights. Our Founding Fathers’ views on equality before the law, limitations on arbitrary or cruel punishment, the right to self-government, and even the right to declare independence from British tyranny, were grounded in an understanding of natural law, which dictates that each person possesses an equal measure of inalienable human dignity that government must respect. By remembering to champion that same dignity today, centrists can break free of the polarizing dogma promoted by America’s two-party duopoly and embrace policies that unite us across geographical, racial, economic, religious, and educational divides.
The Politics of Dignity shows how a focus on respecting dignity naturally leads to innovative centrist policies in six core areas:
• commitment to national service,
• reforming and preserving free markets,
• aligning jobs and education,
• enhancing emergency preparedness and community resilience,
• reimagining health care delivery,
• and protecting our democratic institutions.
Healey highlights novel programs in these areas that are already bringing promising results, as well as the courageous leaders pushing for positive change.
Most Americans would like to put the inflammatory rhetoric and extreme policies of both parties behind us, allowing our country to reclaim its place in the world as a beacon for moral leadership, economic opportunity, freedom, democracy, and innovation.
Engaging, constructive, and deeply hopeful, The Politics of Dignity reconnects us with the best in ourselves, and with the nobility and originality of the American experiment.