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Twenty years ago Bill Moyers spoke with sociologist Robert Bellah about the American political climate for the series A WORLD OF IDEAS.
In a campaign where you're looking at the polls every week to see how you're doing, you're not thinking about educating the public about the next ten to fifteen years, you're just thinking about what will get that poll reaction up tomorrow. It's seductive to both the candidate and the electorate not to think about the hard questions, but to talk only about what's most immediately effective.
Robert N. Bellah is Elliott Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. Bellah is the author and editor of several essays and books. His two most influential articles are "Civil Religion in America" (1967) and "Religious Evolution" (1964). His books include TOKUGAWA RELIGION, BEYOND BELIEF, THE BROKEN COVENANT, THE NEW RELIGIOUS CONSCIOUSNESS, AND VARIETIES OF CIVIL RELIGION and UNCIVIL RELIGION: INTERRELIGIOUS HOSTILITY IN AMERICA and HABITS OF THE HEART: INDIVIDUALISM AND COMMITMENT IN AMERICAN LIFE and THE GOOD SOCIETY both written in collaboration with Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler and Steven Tipton. On December 20, 2000, the Bellah received the United States National Humanities Medal.
>Are Bellah's words still holding true for Election '08? Tell us on the blog