From this history we learn that it is not the nation-state, but the kinds of nation-states that matter. From the birth of political philosophy in ancient Athens, it has been understood in the West that the difference between good and bad regimes, just as between lives lived well and lives lived badly, is all-important.
I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics—a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850s, between two contrary visions of the country.
The politics of identity make the present a prisoner of the past, with individuals viewed chiefly through the lens of race or other arbitrary characteristics. Douglass argued for identifying with America—with the nation founded on “human brotherhood and the self-evident truths of liberty and equality.”
Ty Cobb was one of the greatest baseball players of all time and king of the so-called Deadball Era. But for all that, most Americans think of him first as an awful person.