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Guest Thinkers

America’s Fears Bigger Than Its Dreams

If you  are planning on holding a large political rally in Washington, and you want to do it right, you really need to buy a TV network first, so you can get tons of free publicity. The One Nation rally, which took place on the Mall in Washington yesterday, has gotten so little press it can be considered a stealth rally.

Meanwhile, a thousand print and TV journalists are combing through their news feeds for the latest gaffe by Christine O’Donnell, and keeping their fingers crossed that Sarah Palin will pull herself away from her daughter Bristol’s Dancing With The Stars performances long enough to oblige them with a incendiary tweet.

News anchors repeat the dollar amounts of ad buys by corporate donors disguised as political action groups the way the personalities on Entertainment Tonight quote movie box office revenues, as if a deluge of television ads will actually obligate the sliver of voters who have no idea who they will push the button for in November to chose the side of the political party who runs the most commercials.

And a now famous high school graduate, commonly known to be allergic to any form of higher learning until he got out of rehab a few years ago, who often stands in front of a whiteboard on his TV show and apes the Socratic method with his own twisted brand of circular reasoning and creative interpretations of historical events, purports to “teach” America everything he willingly admits he ignored back in high school.  

The elite bashing that takes place with regularity within our media never fails to astound me. Mediocre engineers didn’t develop the technology that allows our cellphones to work—great ones did. Second-rate physicists didn’t figure out how to put a man on the moon—great ones did. Substandard scientists didn’t discover the secrets of the atom in order to make the Manhattan Project a success so we could bring World War II to an end—great ones did.    

A comment I saw on an economist’s blog recently—“there is a scarcity of problem-solvers and an overabundance of agenda-pushers”—seems to neatly sum up the position the country is in today.

So instead of pandering to our fears as a nation, why don’t we flip the script and believe in being the best of ourselves as Americans? Instead of worrying about how we are going to pay down our national debt when our Gross Domestic Product is stagnant without raising taxes and cutting services at the same time, why not figure out how much we can bet on ourselves and our futures?

Why not take a walk on the wild side, the way we did when conventional warfare wasn’t working fast enough in World War II, or when the moon seemed an impossible million miles away, or when Dick Tracy style two-way wrist radios seemed like science fiction, and go all in on a gargantuan national revitalization plan?

None of our New Economy superstar businesses made any money for years after they were launched, but the investments of the venture capitalists who believed in tomorrow have paid off handsomely.  I am no blind optimist. I am the first one to ridicule a pie-in-the-sky idea. But right about now, I am ready to be seduced by the kind of leader who can dream big for America. I am ready for a real professor who went to a real college or three before becoming commander-in-chief to stand in front of his own metaphorical whiteboard and tutor our nation on how to think less like vulture capitalists and more like venture capitalists.  

I am ready for a society that champions honing skills that are real and tangible more than it worships mastering the art of the deal. I am ready for our dreams to be big again, our fears to be small again, and excellence in all things worth doing to be our guiding light.


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