The Real State of the Union, again

My friend Mark Satin has a wonderful writeup of
the NAF’s Real State of the Union conference, done in
conjunction with The Atlantic Monthly (who previously sponsored
both an issue and a book with that name). Some key
insights:

We’re much less divided than
we (and the media) think:

“As a
result, there?s no majority party in the U.S. today, and the first party
that embraces the center — truly speaks to the center, which does not consist
of dullards and mealy-mouths but is full of imagination and angst — will be the
majority party in the U.S. for a long time to
come.”

There’s radical middle
alternatives to simply privatizing Social
Security

“didn?t do what
many Democrats are doing these days and disparage President Bush?s concept
of the ‘Ownership Society.’ Instead, he did the radical middle thing. He
embraced the positive core of the concept and said, Let?s figure out how
to make this work for all Americans . . . and especially for those of us who own
few or no assets. His concern for the asset-poor had nothing to do with
guilt-ridden, limousine liberalism. It was hard as nails. It had the good of the
entire society in mind.”

along with
individual-mandates for health care and skill-side investment in children, paid
for by a responsible progressive consumption tax plus impact-based
taxation:

“We should start taxing
?more of what we want less of,? such as pollution and use of
non-renewable resources, rather than ?more of what we want more of,?
such as wages and capital
gains.”

And for a light lunch,
Richard Clarke laid out “a full-blown, long-term strategy for coping with
terrorism.”

‘Long term, our most
essential task is to persuade the people in the second and third circles that
Jihad is self-defeating and that there?s a better way to achieve social
justice, which we can help them achieve. In other words, we need to engage in a
?battle of ideas? against the Jihadists — and it?s one we
dare not lose. But battling over ideas is only half the task, Clarke said.Ę
He is a radical centrist, which means he?s equally committed to achieving
homeland security directly — by reducing domestic vulnerabilities (e.g., of our
chemical plants), by capacity building (e.g., devising a rational formula for
dividing homeland security funds among the states), and by thinking carefully
about civil liberties.’

And to cap
it all off, a rethinking of foreign
policy:

‘Militarily, this may be a
?unipolar? world, he said. But economically and diplomatically,
it?s an increasingly ?multipolar? world, and we?re going
to have to recognize that and get good at living in
it.’…

‘living in an
increasingly populist world means learning to put ourselves in others?
shoes, and see ourselves as others see us. We are the rich kid on the
block…and if we want to share the world and work in the world with everyone
else, then we?ve got to understand that that?s how we’ll be seen.
And proceed with appropriate sensitivity and
humility.

Amen! Reality, Character,
Community & Humility — who could ask for more?

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