Most Americans and nearly all American politicians speak only the language of individuality, the unbridled market, interests, ambition. Over at MassPoliticsProfs, Maurice Cunningham says Gov. Deval Patrick speaks that language too, but almost uniquely in American politics he speaks America’s second language: the language of Biblical religion.

The second language, the one of community and the moral imperative of care for others represented in John Winthrop’s Model of Christian Charity, supported by some of the anti-Federalists, by Alexis de Tocqueville and Wilson Carey McWilliams, is a language not often spoken today. Tocqueville saw religion’s value in a democracy in its tendency to turn each man’s gaze from his own selfish affairs to the needs of his community. The second language does not lightly dismiss the idea of a virtuous citizenry.