Kevin den Dulk, the Paul B. Henry Chair in Political Science at Calvin College, has a thoughtful review of Confident Pluralism in Comment. One of Professor den Dulk’s main critiques is that I haven’t offered a sufficient theory for why people in this country ought to embrace confident pluralism. He argues that “we cannot assume that our legal and cultural history is a seedbed for confident pluralism.” He might be right—there is certainly a contingency to and an uncertainty about the possibility of confident pluralism. But I don’t think the book is without any underlying theory. To the contrary, I hope that what I’ve done is shown a kind of theory in practice.
Confident Pluralism allows genuine difference to coexist without suppressing or minimizing our firmly held convictions. We can embrace pluralism precisely because we are confident in our own beliefs and in the groups and institutions that sustain them. That vision does not entail illusions that our differences will disappear. To the contrary, it forces us to pursue a common existence in spite of our deeply held differences. Confident Pluralism will not give us the American Dream. But it might help avoid the American Nightmare.