What’s Going On

Author: Gary Hart

Among the punditocracy in our Capitol “realignment” is in the air.  A site that draws a small but highly perceptive commentariat such as this one might do well to ponder what shape that political realignment (presuming it does in fact occur) might take.

The insiders now seem to assume that the Clintonian centrist Democratic Party is no longer the home of New Dealers and Great Societiests but whose maintenance of the legacy social safety net attracts the less well-off elderly, minorities, the poor, the better educated, and the young.

More interestingly, the Republican Party, under the influence of Nixon-Fox-Rove, has become a menagerie of evangelicals, white middle class elderly, rural and small town residents, gun owners, less well educated, anti-immigrants, and blue collar factory workers displaced by global competition.

Political journalists cling to the antique categories of liberal and conservative even as those traditional ideological categories seem quaint.  After Vietnam, the Democratic […] Continue Reading…

On Sunday Huffington Post posted an essay written by General Charles Boyd and me the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.  Out credentials were based on our service on the United States Commission on National Security for the 21st Century (1998-2001), General Boyd as the Commission’s Executive Director and I as its co-chair with the late United States Senator Warren Rudman.  Most notable among our 50 recommendations to the new George W. Bush administration was the urgent need to create a Cabinet-level Department of National Security uniting the Border Patrol, Customs, and Coast Guard with a common data base and communications system.  We did so because, by 1999, we had become convinced, as we publicly reported, that “America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and Americans will die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.”

Our essay was to remind Americans, yet again, […] Continue Reading…

Toward a Better Day

Author: Gary Hart

Even those of a generation that reached maturity in the happy days of the 1950s find it necessary to remind ourselves that, even though our lives were relatively calm, peaceful, and optimistic, we still lived in a racially divided society, a growing nuclear cloud hung over us, and there were struggles going on in many places in the world.

Yet, by comparison to today, it was a pretty good time to be an American.  Of the qualities we enjoyed, optimism about the future seemed commonplace.  Whether explicitly or implicitly we were told we could achieve anything we set out to do.  Life then was simpler, calmer, more civil, and, yes, happier, even for those of us in the humbler working class.

Will America ever be like that again?  Blocking that goal are a variety of barriers: mass migrations, always a fertile field for demagogues in any age; globalization threatening manufacturing jobs; […] Continue Reading…

A Tragedy Foretold

Author: Gary Hart

After November, expect an avalanche of analyses as to how the Trump phenomenon could have happened and, in some cases, how it can be prevented in the future.

A persuasive school of thought will link this phenomenon to the loss of privacy two or three decades ago and the consequent decline in the caliber and quality of political leadership in America.  The cost of the loss of privacy is the loss of respect.  And the loss of respect guarantees that men and women of talent and virtue will not submit themselves to the mockery of a mob of anonymous internet trolls and semi-literate political analysts.

Jefferson supposed that America’s future rested with “the aristocracy of talent and virtue”.  He did not mean that only aristocrats possessed those qualities.  He was too radical a democrat to believe that.  Rather, he believed that, largely due to widespread public education, a cohort of leaders […] Continue Reading…

Apologies

Author: Gary Hart

I have taken down the most recent posting entitled A Fable for Our Times.  I accept responsibility for it and regret having posted it.

Unfortunately, in the current highly-charged political atmosphere, I am guilty of adding fuel to a fire veering too close to the edge of civility.

Several responses unnecessarily revisited my own national campaign long ago and others went so far as to compare my candidacy to that

of Mr. Trump.  Others alluded to alleged but unproven allegation of illegality on the part of Mrs. Clinton.  Having decried the bitterness

and nastiness of today’s politics I should not have encouraged it further.

Gary Hart

You Have Sacrificed Nothing

Author: Gary Hart

Statements that resonate, speeches that linger, are not the result of a voice, a wardrobe, a hairstyle, or a handsome face.  One of the greatest speeches in human history, was delivered by a man who had none of these things.  He had no speech writers, no clever wordsmiths to tell him what to say and how to say it.  It was literally written near the last minute on the back of an envelope.  It is now carved in stone and in our hearts.  It is the Gettysburg Address.

Resonance with history is most often produced by an individual with a conviction, with beliefs lodged in the heart, with a sense of honor, integrity, and principle.  The person delivering words worth remembering must have something to say and a reason for saying it.

Powerful truths are often contained in a few powerful words.  When Mr. Trump loses this election, it will be […] Continue Reading…

Reflections on the future

Author: Gary Hart

Sometime back, under the impact of a series of improbable, even ridiculous, political developments, I wrote that I was forthwith leaving “politics” behind and focusing instead on more serious, more substantial, more meaningful topics with longer range implications.

Well, of course, I should have been smart enough to know that we may not care about politics, but politics cares about us.

Given the historic moment in which we find ourselves, let me invite comments, and offer to respond to questions if any are asked, concerning the impending national election and particularly its impact on the long term national interest.

For example, will history look back on this moment as a hinge of history, where we are leaving behind one era, say one that began in the mid-20th century with the end of WWII and ended at least figuratively on 9/11?  Are the new media replacing traditional journalism, the “press” of the First […] Continue Reading…

Identity

Author: Gary Hart

Many people, in America and elsewhere, are searching for identity in a world that is disrupting if not destroying historical identities.  Globalization, mass migrations, ubiquitous media, and disintegrating borders are pulling up the roots that most of us have taken for granted.

As in other Western democracies, the face of America is changing.  From its beginning we have been a white, Protestant nation, even after waves of immigrants from Europe.  Now immigrants are coming from the South, and black, brown, and Asian peoples are literally changing the face of the nation.

Another pillar of identity, work, changed dramatically at the same time.  Manufacturing, as the basis of the national economy, shrunk under pressure from less expensive imports, and the new technology sector hired only young people, and trained immigrants, with tech skills.  A generation of manufacturing workers not only lost their income, they lost their identity.

Geography used to play a key […] Continue Reading…

Government Schools

Author: Gary Hart

The State of Kansas now calls its public schools “government schools.” Thomas Jefferson, who linked public schooling to democracy and vice versa, now has yet another reason to roll over in his grave.

So, I guess we now have government highways, and government parks and wilderness areas and government forests, and government libraries, and government State boundaries, and a whole lot of other government things. Before Kansas enlightened me I though these were all facilities that belonged to the public, all the people of America, and that we administered them on our behalf by electing a government to do so.You have to ask yourself whether federal farm subsidies to Kansas farmers also makes them “government farms.” It would be interesting to know how many Kansas farmers send the subsidies back.

But now Kansas tells me all these public assets and resources belong to the government, not to the American people. I […] Continue Reading…

People of Paradox

Author: Gary Hart

We Americans imagine ourselves to be progressive…that is to say, embracing change, experimental, imaginative, and creative.  At the same time, however, we are much more conservative than we consider ourselves to be.  We are cautious about adapting to new processes and institutions.  We protect past practices and traditional ways of doing things.

We want better public service, but are reluctant to pay for them.  We want better transportation systems, but do not want higher taxes.  We want a stronger military, but do not want a draft and do not want expensive weapons systems to be counted as part of the budget deficits.  We want better schools, but do not want to pay teachers what they deserve.  We want a strong foreign policy but do not want entangling alliances.  We want the benefits of foreign trade, including the jobs created by our exports, but do not want the competition trade involves.

Much […] Continue Reading…