Today’s Quote(s)

November 19, 2007

Sean Wilentz gets two quotes today, ’cause he’s such a smartie and his book The Rise of American Democracy is a great read:

People’s cynicism is borne of alienation from politics. It’s not crazy– it’s just corrosive. We don’t know who [will be a great president]. You have to look for potential. FDR was not Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Abraham Lincoln was not even quite Abraham Lincoln in 1860, or we didn’t know it. Certainly the chattering classes didn’t know it. The person has to rise to the occasion.

And then there’s this:

The nation has the lowest esteem around the world that it’s had in decades. That’s not just a matter of people liking us. You cannot do diplomacy if people assume you’re lying all the time. You cannot run the world based on mistrust. That’s a political fact. It’s not a moral category. At home, we’re really hurting. It’s not the economy, simply. But we’ve gone back to the Gilded Age in terms of inequality. In the end, this is the function of liberalism in American life — to save the system from the people who actually run it. The people in power get greedy. They get crazy. Now they need to simmer down.

Wilentz is entirely too credulous about the triangulation strategies of the Clinton years, and he’s a way too glib about the left wing of the Democratic Party — so glib, in fact, that if I weren’t familiar with his other writings, I might just have dismissed him as a dolt. He supports Hillary and I don’t — to put it mildly. But if the dreaded outcome does in fact happen and I have to decide whether to grit my teeth and do the expected thing on Election Day, the support of people like Sean Wilentz will be a big influence on my decision.

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