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The Missing Element in the Republican Revival, 97 Yale Law Journal 1673 (1988)


Cass Sunstein's article, "Beyond the Republican Revival" captures with enormous clarity and elegance the task of the modern republicans, which is to specify and defend a conception of public life in which the power of government is unleashed to do good. At the core of this conception is the "republican belief in the subordination of private interests to the public good," which provides the justification for unleashing the power of government. What is missing from Sunstein's conception of government is the pluralist belief that the desire for private economic gain and the necessity of political survival often drive self-interest into political life and obscure the intentions of even the most well-meaning political actors. In my view, Sunstein's appeal to civic virtue does not represent a new perspective on political ordering, so much as a new, aspirational perspective on human nature - one that was not shared by the framers and does not reflect reality.

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