Monday, January 09, 2012

On My Mind Today -- Paul Tsongas

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, and in preparing my introduction of David Walker today, I was thinking back to 1992 when Paul Tsongas won the Democratic contest while campaigning on fiscal issues.  Here's a particularly relevant passage from his Call to Economic Arms:

This is where democracies rely upon the courage of their elected leaders.  The normal political instinct is to always engage in happy talk.  It is courage which allows a politician to take a people beyond that.  It takes toughness to lead a people toward their preservation no matter how disquieting the journey may be.  For avoidance of unpleasant reality is simply a part of human nature.

I do not think we have an economic problem here.  We have a leadership problem here.  Sadly, I do not see tomorrow's primary as a meaningful step toward resolving that leadership problem.  In his talk, Walker mentioned two interesting organizations that might offer some hope: and

UPDATE: Here's an article on Walker's lecture in The Dartmouth.

1 comment:

Vivian Darkbloom said...

I'm not sure I would hold Paul Tsongas up as a "leader" on the basis of that quote and especially not on the basis of the 69 page "Call to Arms" you refer to.

As for the quote, it contains just the sort of general, high-sounding platitude that any candidate in the current campaign (from other party) could have made. It is nothing but fluff. Ditto for the 69 page document. Does that document contain any *specific* policy positions that would require American voters to make the hard choices necessary? Reduce the long-term capital gains tax rate (unspecified rate, unspecified term). Fine, didn't we already do that? The only specific I could find in that document was a reference to the possibility that one might consider a 3 to 5 cent increase in the gasoline tax. Even that was a bit hedgey. Fine as far as that goes, but is that really your idea of leadership? A bunch of high sounding rhetoric and vague generalizations without any real specifics?