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Whose Common Good? Racism in the Political Community
Georgetown Law Journal (1992)
  • Stephen M. Feldman, University of Wyoming
Political pluralists and civic republicans have launched constitutional and political theory into a controversy of paradigmatic proportions. Pluralists insist that politics is no more than a struggle between autonomous and rational individuals or groups who strive to satisfy their preexisting private interests. Civic republicans argue instead that the government should pursue the common good, not preexisting private interests. Something vital is missing from this debate: a recognition of and confrontation with American racism. In the context of American society, no constitutional or political theory can succeed without a comprehensive awareness and understanding of racism. The Constitution must be understood, interpreted, and applied with the goal of reducing and eliminating the racism constantly at the forefront of discussion. Professor Richard Delgado in his article, Zero-Based Racial Politics: An Evaluation of Three Best Case Arguments on Behalf of the Nonwhite Underclass, suggests that the nonwhite poor should reconsider their traditional affiliation with political liberals. Delgado considers whether the nonwhite poor are most likely to gain social justice by aligning with either conservatives, liberals, or civic republicans. The surprising conclusion is that the nonwhite poor should turn to the conservatives in their quest for social justice. This article explores Delgado's commitment to political pluralism and argues that Delgado overlooks or minimizes the way that racism often skews both an individual's perception of self-interest and his or her rational calculation of how to satisfy that interest. It explores the potential of civic republicanism to lead to social justice and begins to reconstruct a constitutional and political theory with the goal of reducing racism at its core.
  • racism,
  • constitutional theory,
  • political theory,
  • pluralism,
  • civic republicanism
Publication Date
Citation Information
Stephen M. Feldman. "Whose Common Good? Racism in the Political Community" Georgetown Law Journal Vol. 80 (1992)
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