Former Senator Gary Hart’s The Republic of Conscience is a meditation on the growing gap between the founding principles of the United States Constitution and our current political landscape.
Going back as early as 400 BC, the idea of a true republic has been threatened by narrow, special interests taking precedence over the commonwealth. The United States Constitution was drafted to protect against such corruption, but as Gary Hart details in The Republic of Conscience, America is nowhere near the republic it set out to be almost 250 years ago, falling to the very misconduct it hoped to avoid.
In his latest book, the former Colorado Senator and presidential contender describes ‘the increasing gap between purpose and performance’ in America, emphasizing how the sense of national interest has become distorted and diluted over time. Focusing on the years after World War II, Hart tackles major American institutions—the military, the CIA, Congress—and outlines how these establishments have led the country away from its founding principles, not closer to them.
Full of original and incisive analysis, The Republic of Conscience is Hart’s examination and remedy for the millions of Americans who feel jaded, confused, and disappointed by their current government. A testament to Hart’s political faith in the founding fathers, this book is one citizen’s attempt to recapture the Republic, and a timely reminder for the next July 4th holiday.
This lament from former Colorado senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hart is an odd mixture of trenchant critique of the current political order and a liberal baby boomer's cri de coeur for better days. These add up to a less than cohesive argument. Domestically speaking, Hart cries out that "the American Republic in the 21st century is massively corrupt" thanks to a "permanent political class" that acts "for the benefit of concentrated wealth." This criticism is ultimately dwarfed by Hart's concern over the current national security apparatus's massive scope, dating back to 1947 when America asserted primacy over the postwar world. Well before recent revelations about domestic surveillance, America had made a trade-off between liberty and security that was "problematic at best and perilous at worst." Hart singles the Obama administration out for special criticism, warning that drone-based surveillance and assassination programs are "creating precedents will live to regret." When he doesn't veer into banal campaign stump slogans like "we must decide who we are," Hart makes some fair points, particularly about the distinction between the national interest and special interests. But with so much of his argument dominated by a view of government that peaked in the Kennedy administration, Hart seems not to realize how little novelty he brings to the discussion.