Community and the Ordering of Public Life
While we recognize that no public order or political culture can be perfect, we are conditionally but strongly committed to the historic ideals and basic institutions of liberal democracy. More than and prior to a political system, liberal democracy is a public culture defined by a set of relational and discursive practices and norms for public engagement that center around a cluster of ideals and propositions about liberty, justice, and the common good. We hold these commitments because in the historically contingent and fluid circumstances of the modern epoch, human flourishing manifests itself publicly (and not just politically) in the ideals of liberal democracy rightly understood. Far from perfect and easily corrupted, democracy is, nevertheless, the public manifestation of the common good and the political form of the humane ideal.
Perhaps the most significant challenge surrounding liberal democracy in our day concerns its longstanding and paradoxical relation to religion. Religion continues to be both a source of some of the greatest misery in the world and a source of extraordinary good. It is clearly at the root of so much of the political terror and social disorder we see around the globe, but it also remains the deepest wellspring of generosity, compassion, and cultural vitality.