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Our Relationship With Our Imperfect World: Part III– How Crisis Defines the Possibilities for Transformation

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Part II of this series (at ended with the statement:

The big changes –even if we get them– will not be on every front. Only with respect to those dimensions that the American people (or enough of them) recognize as being in crisis.

So while in many areas we ought not be distracted by long-term goals irrelevant to this Bushite crisis, this same crisis does open certain areas to the possibility of important transformation.

Thus, with respect to the changes we’d like to see, we should ask ourselves: does America experience itself as being in crisis over this issue? If the answer is no, drop the issue from president attention. Nothing is going to happen. We should put our shoulder to the wheel on the issues where there IS something in the followers that a good leader could kindle and channel to make changes for the good.

I believe that Americans DO experience crisis on these issues:

The war in Iraq, which more and more people see as a mess and probably a failure;

The Bushite assault on the Constitution, though this has much less power than the Iraq issue, with support for it maybe a fifth to a third of the public, unlike the two-thirds with Iraq;

A sense that America has lost standing and respect and trust in the world, though the number of people here, too, is not overwhelming, but also not trivial;

People DO sense that there has been a lot of lying by government;

They have some vague idea that the Bushites have been playing fast and loose with the rules;

Out of the recesses of unstudied memory, people do have a vague sense that America used to get along with the world much more harmoniously than these days.

Regarding all these things, there is underlying but generally inarticulate unease in most of the American public.

And THEREFORE, on all these issues, I believe that America can --with the right leadership-- embark on significant transformation, taking this nation not only back to where we were before the Bushites came to power but still further rededicated to the better angels of our nature than we would have been without this crisis.

And such leadership can also bring America back toward that greater harmony and constructive engagement with the world. And I believe further that, we might conceivably find leadership that can use this crisis to create a role whose constructive and enlightened spirit rekindles a vision like America provided the world in the times to which Fischer refers.

A great leader, for example, could harness the feelings there now in the unhappy American public to support a new achievement in helping create good order in the world, beyond what we’ve seen since the vision of men like George Marshall, who helped pull Europe up out of poverty and misery right after the war.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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