McConnell Center lecture series asks: is America too big?

By on October 17, 2014

On Tuesday evening, people gathered in the Chao Auditorium to hear Donald Livingston, a philosophy professor at Emory University in Atlanta., speak on the issue of whether or not America is too big.

“If America is an Empire, then it cannot be considered too big because empires are supposed to be big, but if America is a republic, there has to be a limit to size,” said Livingston after raising a question on the proper way to describe America.

“A republican tradition has three essential features: a republican government is a government in which the people make decisions based on the laws they live on, the people cannot just make any law; that would be a democracy, and a republic has to be small.”

Dr. Livingston tracked history all the way back to when America was beginning to “outgrow” the republic stage stating, “Jefferson upset it (the republican tradition) with the Louisiana purchase, doubling the size of America.”

“America has grown to the point that effective democracy has become very difficult. The values that we hold in Kentucky are so different from the values and needs of those in California,” said Jason Jewell, a sophomore McConnell Scholar. “Some would argue that is not a problem if we want to be an empire, but to be a democracy or republic we either need a smaller nation, or more representatives.”

The event is a part of the McConnell Center fall lecture series, ‘Debating America’.

Photo courtesy McConnell Center / University of Louisville

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