In the height of this particularly contentious election, we’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from both camps about how high the stakes are. In articulating this idea, Republicans and Democrats alike have repeated a similar refrain: times are tough, things are dark, and if you vote for the other party the Republic (and maybe the world) will fall.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of the election– there are real and important differences in policy and risk level to these candidates– but this apocalyptic speech is distracting (and largely inaccurate). This seems like a good time for us to step back and think about where we are as a nation. In the weeks running up to the election (and likely beyond), I’d like to write a series of posts on the topic. These posts are not about the current candidates– I think we’ve all heard enough about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by now– but will instead concentrate on how people evaluate and remember the past.
Three questions seem paramount to me:
- What are the greatest challenges we face as a nation?
- Has the United States of America ever been great? If so, when?
- What makes for a good President?
I’d love to hear from you about these questions and others in the days to come. Your thoughts on these subjects are very important– not just to me as a writer and historian, but for yourselves as active, engaged citizens.