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America in 2014

by Frank Kaufmann, 01/03/14 Page 1

Nations, like people, are full of fla s an! ina!e"uacies# $n t%e brig%t si!e t%oug%, e belie&e t%at e can impro&e if e try# Nations are also like people %en it comes to t%e %abit of min! t%at t%inks 't%ings ere better back %en#' '( is% ( ere a ki! again### not a orry in t%e orl!#' '( is% ( ere in my 20s again### )%ose ere t%e !ays#' )%e temptation is t%ere no %en e look at our current situation in America, 'America as better back %en### t%ings %a&e !ecline! so#' *ut e kno on a personal le&el t%at a for ar!+looking, self+impro&ing frame of min! is %ealt%ier an! more soun!# ,%en e take a closer look, e "uickly see t%at 't%ose great !ays' eren-t really all t%at my selecti&e imagination c%alke! t%em up to be# )%is same snapping out of it an! common sense s%oul! arise %en looking a%ea! to America in t%e year to come# )%ree gui!eposts can %elp c%art our pat% for ar! an! set up a goo! groun! for progress as a country# )%e important but ob&ious in&entory of strengt%s an! eaknesses, an! also noting %ic% special areas or occasions stan! in %ig% relief as areas of c%allenge an! struggle# *y noting t%ese, our plans mo&e a ay from generic, ineffecti&e lurc%ing at &ague efforts for betterment, an! e can begin to !esign our impro&ement more clearly an! it% better focus# For America in 2014, t%e areas an! occasions of recent &intage t%at stan! in t%is position of %ig% relief are .yria, *eng%a/i, an! Korea+0apan+1%ina internationally, an! t%e N.A, t%eAffor!able 2ealt% 1are Act, an! t%e P%il 3obinson+45AA6+ A78 fiasco !omestically# ,%et%er as a person or a nation, being self+conflicte! is !ebilitating an! self+ !estructi&e# 4reater internal %armony, an! singleness an! clarity of i!entity an! purpose make us successful an! effecti&e# .elf+conflict is t%e opposite# ,e commonly %ear t%e cry against 'partisans%ip#' )%is is important, but it is not complete because t%e cure is a call for lea!ers to be 'bi+partisan#' *i+partisan

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suggests a %abit of 'cooperating,' but not t%e more ra!ical call for greater substantial %armony among public ser&ants# 1urrently America is in an e9ten!e! an! !eepening state of internal conflict cause! by many factors# (f t%is persists, our country ill !ecline precipitously# *ut t%is !ebilitating !i&i!e nee! not pre&ail# )%e current internal conflict, intense t%oug% it be is not terminal# ,e can reco&er, e&en t%oug% current political en&ironment an! con!itions are not con!uci&e to begin t%is long trek to reco&er greater national unity# Ne&ert%eless progress in t%is !irection is possible# )%e special an! strong obstacles to our urgently nee!e! greater national unity lies in t%e t%ree t%ings# 1# )%is is a time of ra!ical transition in politics# 2# ,e still %a&e a long ay to go it% :r# $bama as presi!ent, an! 3# ,e %a&e a presi!ent an! congressional supporters %o are more e9treme t%an mo!erate in t%eir political impulses an! be%a&ior# :uc% of t%e opposition is like t%is too# )%ese facts porten! greater fracture an! brokenness in our national fabric# ;nfortunately e cannot affor! t%at# )%e ra!ical transition mentione! refers to t%e impact of communications tec%nology an! social me!ia on t%e electoral process# *et een America-s liberals, an! %er conser&ati&es, it so %appene! t%at t%e left ing secure! greater mastery an! control of t%ese ne tools of politics first# An! so e sit in t%e mi!!le eig%t long years of t%e $bama a!ministration# 4i&en t%e si9 areas+occasions, t%ree international, t%ree !omestic t%at %ig%lig%t America-s !i&isions, e %a&e to ask, are t%ere any o&erarc%ing elements e can i!entify an! call upon t%at are greater t%an our !i&isions, elements t%at can %elp us rise abo&e our current i!eological conflicts< 6oes America %a&e any uni&ersal i!eals t%at are not sub=ect to *alkani/ation an! !i&ision, i!eals %el! by all Americans< >es# .%e !oes# )%ey are t%e elements of our national i!entity t%at once ma!e us bot% a goo! an! a great nation, a nation t%at as a!mire! an! looke! up to, e&en in a orl! of enmity, =ealousy, an! resentment# )%e true appeal of t%is country as ne&er =ust about %er go!+gi&en material ealt%# )%is is not about papering o&er important i!eological !ifferences# (t is about forging t%e capacity to benefit from !ifference, to gro stronger an! better from it, e&en strong, fiercely %el! !ifference# )%ese unifying uni&ersals t%at once ma!e America goo! an! great, an! t%at can

America in 2014
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%elp America no reco&er %er %ealt% are t o t%ings, applicable to bot% !omestic an! foreign policy, one gro ing out of t%e ot%er# )%ey are t%e last fi&e of 't%irty+ one or!s tig%tly compresse! into one sentence, a sentence t%at is more uni&ersally kno n an! more often repeate! in America t%an any ot%er#' )%e 31 or!s< ( ple!ge allegiance to t%e flag of t%e ;nite! .tates of America an! to t%e republic for %ic% it stan!s, one nation un!er 4o!, in!i&isible, it% liberty an! =ustice for all# )%e last fi&e still belong to e&ery American# 5iberty an! =ustice for all# ,%at is t%is liberty< )%ey are foun! in t%e first amen!ment, t%e free e9ercise of religion? free!om of speec%, free!om of t%e press? t%e rig%t to assemble peaceably, an! t%e rig%t to petition t%e go&ernment for a re!ress of grie&ances# 6elig%tful# A magnificent basis for a country of e&en t%e most intense !i&ersity, sufficient to rally us %en unity is so urgently nee!e!# 5eft or rig%t, Plymout% *ret%ren or at%eist, ric% or poor, t%ere is not a soul %o !oes not ant t%ese, an! %opefully not a soul %o oul! !eny t%ese to ot%ers# An! s%oul! our bigotries arrogance, an! intolerance tempt us to !eem a group or t o un ort%y, t%en let us correct oursel&es at least in lig%t of self interest# :artin Niem@ller, t%e famous Protestant an! outspoken public foe of A!olf 2itler %o spent t%e last se&en years of Na/i rule in concentration camps, rote First t%ey came for t%e .ocialists, an! ( !i! not speak out++ *ecause ( as not a .ocialist### At t%e en! of %is musings it rea!s, )%en t%ey came for t%e 0e s, an! ( !i! not speak out++ *ecause ( as not a 0e # )%en t%ey came for me++an! t%ere as no one left to speak for me#' $nce e %a&e it rig%t at least for our fello Americans, foreign policy s%oul! naturally e9ten! from t%is i!entity as people from e&ery stripe %o &aliantly, s%oul!er to s%oul!er an! it%out e9ception stan! risking e&en our li&es for liberty an! =ustice for all# For all# )%e struggle to forge an effecti&e an! rig%teous foreign policy is al ays c%allenge! by t%e strong force of ugly, crass, national self interest# )o see t%is in lig%t of t%e person+nation metap%or again it is t%e national an! international &ersion of t%e fact, nobo!y likes a selfis% bastar!, no matter %o ric% or important you are or t%ink you are# .elf interest is a natural an! %ealt%y part of %uman affairs, bot% for people an! for nations# ,e cannot li&e nor sur&i&e it%out it# )%e point is t%oug%, it cannot be t%e main t%ing, t%e first t%ing# ,e must lea! it% our goo!ness# )%is %as been missing from our foreign policy for some time# (t began it% our acceptance of fear#

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,%at is America-s goo!ness< >es, e are a &ast, ealt%y, po erful, an! beautiful lan!, but abo&e all e s%oul! be kno n as t%e people %o seek e&ery %ere an! all t%e time liberty an! =ustice for all# America-s foreign policy s%oul! gro from t%is core goo!ness# 2ello, ( am an American# ,e belie&e in liberty an! =ustice for all# )%e free!om to practice your beliefs, to e9press your beliefs, to rite an! publis% it%out t%reat, an! to gat%er peaceably# 0ust !o not e9ercise t%ese liberties in ays t%at !epri&e e&en one ot%er of %er rig%t to !o t%e same# )%e t%ree !omestic an! t%ree foreign policy c%allenges t%at are central in our struggle to gro an! get better, are best met in t%is transcen!ent American i!eal to become a nation in!i&isible, it% liberty an! =ustice for all# )%e first amen!ment opens our ay# 8ac% %as t%e rig%t to our beliefs an! to e9press an! practice t%em# )o make our nation %ole e nee! to reco&er t%is# (t is properly t%e ay of e&ery American an! of its go&ernment, to emulate t%e i!eal coine! by 8&elyn *eatrice 2all, '( !isappro&e of %at you say, but ( ill !efen! to t%e !eat% your rig%t to say it#' )%e actual Aoltaire "uote as stronger '( !etest %at you rite, but ( oul! gi&e my life to make it possible for you to continue to rite#' (n sum, in America e s%oul! con&erse# 5et i!eologies rage, but ne&er let t%em o&erri!e our ple!ge of liberty an! =ustice for all# $n e!ge issues, e&en e9treme %ot button, se9ual orientation issues, t%ere ne&er s%oul! be a !ay %en an American is !epri&e! or !enie! %is or %er first amen!ment rig%ts# (t is not easy, but t%at is %o e are, an! %at e are about# ,it% t%e N.A %orrors t%at ere e9pose! by 8! ar! .no !en last year, t%e issue is t%is? are t%ere go&ernment agencies &iolating t%e constitution, especially t%e fourt% amen!ment, pri&acy of t%e person an! possessions as against unreasonable searc%es, an! t%e fift% Amen!ment-s pri&ilege against self+ incrimination, %ic% pro&i!es protection for t%e pri&acy of personal information< (f t%ere are, t%en la makers must correct an! mo!ify t%ese agencies, or else s%ut t%em !o n# (t is better to li&e un!er t%e t%reat of %arm, t%an in an America %ose citi/ens are surreptitiously in&a!e! an! !epri&e! of constitutionally guarantee! free!oms# $n uni&ersal %ealt%< (s t%ere an American %o t%inks some Americans !eser&e me!ical care an! ot%ers !o not< (s t%ere anyone %o oul! pre&ent people in nee! from getting me!ical %elp an! attention< $n t%is matter of simple %uman

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compassion, t%ere is no !ifference among i!eological a!&ersaries# )%e !ifference lies in t%e political an! social concepts t%at oul! make %ealt% care goo!, fair, an! efficient# A great many of us fin! go&ernment to be me!!lesome, prone to e9cess, asteful, intrusi&e, an! inefficient# A great many feel t%at e&en it% t%e noblest aspirations, t%e fe!eral go&ernment is t%e e9act rong place to seek a more fair an! more efficient management of %ealt% an! me!ical nee!s# *ut t%is is a "uestion of political i!eology# (t is not a "uestion of !ifferent i!eals# ;nfortunately for t%ose %ostile to big go&ernment, e are in a time of big go&ernment# *ut t%at-s =ust %o it is# .o, yes let political c%allenges aboun!, but no, !o not let us !i&i!e as a people# ,e cannot affor! it# ,it% common i!eals, e can con&erse# As e re+ ea&e our i!entity on e&en t%e most contentious an! embattle! arenas !omestically, our i!entity an! core goo!ness can gain strengt% naturally, an! t%en can begin once again to !efine an! gui!e our foreign policy !ecisions# (n time, %opefully e can act an! come to be kno n as t%e nation an! t%e people !efine! by t%e i!eal of liberty an! =ustice for all# >es, a nation it% self interest, but not self interest at t%e e9pense of all else# *ecause of America-s ealt%, po er, an! influence, s%e must be in&ol&e! in orl! affairs# (mportant t%eaters inclu!e t%e :i!!le 8ast in concert it% 8urope, t%e repair of t%e intensifie! !estabili/ation of Nort% Africa cause! by aggressi&e, ,estern self+interest, an! in&estment in America-s Pacific 3im, most importantly among t%e Nort% Asian nations Korea, 0apan, an! 1%ina# (n t%e :i!!le 8ast, t%e greatest center of raging flames %appens in t%is moment %appens to be .yria, an! in Nort% Africa, 8gypt an! 5ibya an! bor!ering lan!s are crucial# )%e precise pat% for eac% track, !iplomatic, political, military, economic, an! cultural is comple9# (!eological conten!ers ill battle fiercely to !efine positions on a broa! spectrum of approac%es ranging from !ialogical to militant an! militaristic# *ut t%ese %ues are natural to t%e ebb an! flo of political life# :ore important t%an t%e calculus of any gi&en strategy or !esign is t%at American foreign policy gro to reco&er an! reflect t%e i!entity in %ic% America-s greatness an! America-s goo!ness are synoptic# 3egar!less of %ic% i!eology %as t%e upper %an! at any gi&en moment, it s%oul! al ays an! at least be t%e case t%at legislators are committe! to policies t%at rise abo&e t%e un elcome ugliness of pure self interest# American actions in orl! affairs s%oul! bolster our foun!ing i!entity as a nation !e&ote! to liberty an! =ustice for all#

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