I realize that this borders on editorial plagiarism, and just by copying an article I could be chased by a major publisher. But I just read Tom Friedman's column in today's New York Times, and I urge you to read it.
Friedman points out the true irony of American economic and political policies today, and our total disconnect with expectations and direction. Our country (and you can place the blame wherever you wish, altho it's clear to me where it lies) has mortgaged so much of our assets to others, in order to fund the wrong priorities, that true investment in the future has been squandered. He uses our transportation hubs as an example, but his point is much broader: our transportation, power, digital, communication, education, research, and even some of our social support structures are under-funded and limping. We are losing our capacity to invest in 'tomorrow people.' And our leaders lie to us.
In discussing the primary candidates for president, he concludes:
Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.
I don’t know if Barack Obama can lead that, but the notion that the idealism he has inspired in so many young people doesn’t matter is dead wrong. “Of course, hope alone is not enough,” says Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, “but it’s not trivial. It’s not trivial to inspire people to want to get up and do something with someone else.”
It is especially not trivial now, because millions of Americans are dying to be enlisted — enlisted to fix education, enlisted to research renewable energy, enlisted to repair our infrastructure, enlisted to help others. Look at the kids lining up to join Teach for America. They want our country to matter again. They want it to be about building wealth and dignity — big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, said Shriver, “no one can touch us.”
We have dramatic choices for our next president. A woman. An African-American. A man who spent years as a prisoner of war. McCain, Clinton, and Obama all come from different backgrounds, and speak a different theme. We need someone who can bring us out of the current malaise. We need a theme of hope and positive action. That kind of language is powerful. There is true power in words, well-chosen and inspired.
I believe two of them can speak that language. Two of them can look forward rather than back.