America at War with Itself by Henry A. Giroux puts on display the many factors that are eating away at democracy in the United States as the public embraces a new brand of toxic authoritarianism. This excerpt shows that the signs of extremism are everywhere.

The American Soul: Recovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman taps into a mother lode of meanings that bolster and sustain democracy. Here is a profound passage asking, "How to think and live in a manner that conforms to cosmic law?"

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness by multiple authors offers pathbreaking essays on altruistic behavior. This excerpt by Jeremy Adam Smith and Pamela Paxton serves as a reminder that trust promotes feelings of goodwill between individuals.

Deepening the American Dream: Reflections on the Inner Life and Spirit of Democracy by Mark Nepo emphasizes spiritual values as being crucial to the health of democracy. This passage asks whether our freedom should be used to produce and consume or to root and care for each other.

Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad by Frances Moore Lappe outlines a fresh political approach where citizens use their voices and values to shape a new culture. This excerpt offers ten arts of democracy, including public dialogue and mentoring.

Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens by Marianne Williamson shows how to turn the tenets of higher consciousness into major forces for social change. This passage observes that politics should include more than changes in government; it should include changes in us.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations by Clay Shirky contends that a change in human affairs is taking place thanks to the Internet and other burgeoning technologies. This excerpt shows how spontaneously a self-organized group can spring up.

The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear by Paul Rogat Loeb is a soul-stirring anthology of 50 uplifting essays.This passage addresses the long-term change we need to see to sustain hope.

I'm Right and You're an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up by James Hoggan and Grania Litwin looks at how to find common ground amid political gridlock. This excerpt offers the insights of Steve Rosell, a pioneer of using dialogue in polarized public conflicts.

Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier by Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg provides a Buddhist perspective to spur love for those who are seen as adversaries. This excerpt shows the importance of expanding our sense of identity to include others.

No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein brings a ray of hope to benumbed progressives.In this passage, Klein calls for people to tell a new history that compellingly shows the insidious role played by the politics of division.

No Enemy to Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World by Michael Henderson makes a strong case for the moral and ethical firepower of forgiveness in public life.This excerpt describes how forgivness lifts the burdens of the past and allows even nations to move on.

The Open Space of Democracy by Terry Tempest Williams calls readers to heed political obligations to seek justice for all and to be good caretakers of the earth. Here she describes her ideal of a democracy that inspires wisdom and the dignity of choice.