Americans today don't trust each other and their institutions as much as they once did. The collapse of social and political trust has arguably fueled our increasingly ferocious ideological conflicts and hardened partisanship. But is today's decline in trust inevitable or avoidable? Are we caught in a downward spiral that must end in institutional decay or even civil war, or can we restore trust through our shared social institutions?
In Trust in a Polarized Age, political philosopher Kevin Vallier offers a powerful counter-narrative to the prevailing sense of hopelessness that dogs the American political landscape. In an unapologetic defense of liberalism that synthesizes political philosophy and empirical trust research, Vallier restores faith in our power to reduce polarization and rebuild social and political trust. The solution is to strengthen liberal democratic political and economic
institutions-high-quality governance, procedural fairness, markets, social welfare programs, freedom of association, and democracy. These institutions not only create trust, they do so justly, by recognizing and respecting our basic human rights.
Liberal institutions have safeguarded trust through the most tumultuous periods of our history. If we heed the arguments and data in this book, trust could return.