Re: How has Washington changed?
Stephen Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has taught at Yale since 1982. Carter is known for his legal and social policy writings, which include Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, The Culture of Disbelief, and God's Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics. He has also written novels, including New England White and The Emperor of Ocean Park. Carter's areas of expertise include constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property law, secrets and lying, and law and religion. He clerked for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals for and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was educated at Stanford University and Yale, where he earned his law degree.
Question: How has Washington changed?
Stephen Carter: I think that our parents’ generation, for whom democracy is under threat – under threat from the Great Depression and under threat from fascism – they used democracy better. They used democracy better. I had lunch a few years ago with a retiring politician who was a very senior politician, and he talked about when he was first coming along in Washington. And he said when he was coming along in the ‘60s, that people could vehemently disagree on the floor of the House of Representatives one day, and that night go out to dinner with each other’s families and have a good time. Because he said they had been through so much together – the war, the Depression and other things – they understood their commonality across their differences. But, he said, for them, this new crowd . . . He said the new crowd – and he meant Democrats and Republicans alike . . . for the new crowd it’s personal. “They generally don’t like each other,” and that was how he put it. And that’s true of a lot of people today; that lacking the commonalities . . . having had luxury, therefore lacking common experiences, lacking a common struggle, it’s very easy for us to decide there’s something wrong with people and disagree with them when we never had to experience our human commonalities.
Recorded on: 7/25/07
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