"If democratic movements necessarily draw their strength, vision, and power from communitarian settings, these also limit the nature of such movements. Leaders, organizational forms, and broader strategies may help movements overcome parochialism and ethnocentrism, may expand the democratic processes within the group life, may make the decisive difference in how effectively the movement influences the broader society. But the requirement for such developments is a willingness to admit and address communities' limitations as well as a respect for communities' importance.
"In present-day America, recognition of both the centrality and the limitations of communities assumes no small urgency. Where are the places in our culture through which people sustain bonds and history? What are the processes through which they may broaden their sense of the possible, make alliances with others, develop the practical skills and knowledge to maintain democratic organization? What are the languages of protest, dissent, and change that express moral and communal themes in inclusive ways that reach beyond particular boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender, and class? Such questions confer the dignity of historical authorship upon ordinary people.
"Finally, democratic movements, drawing their spirit from voluntary associations of all sorts, have not only sought structural changes to realize a wider, more inclusive and participatory 'democracy.' From the commonwealth vision of the WCTU, the Knights of Labor, and the nineteenth-century Populists, to the Citizenship Schools of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960s and the citizenship education programs in community groups today, such movements have also illustrated the inextricable links between participation and citizenship. Thus, such movements, and the free spaces at their heart, suggest the need for a basic reworking of conventional ideas about 'public life' and 'democracy.' They call attention to that vast middle ground of communal activity, between private life and large-scale institutions, as the arenas in which notions of civic virtue and a sense of responsibility for the common good are nourished, and democracy is given living meaning. And they remind us, repeatedly, how ordinary people can discover who they are and take democratic initiatives, on their own terms."