Friday, June 13, 2008

Old America, New America

Peggy Noonan sees the presidential race as one between Old America and New America.


At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Interesting this comes up. Some weeks ago I commented on one of your posts about being stuck in a post WW II vision of ourselves...a vision that I felt was holding us back. A vision that I felt that also just didn't work anymore. You didn't agree and I respected that position. Now here's Peggy Noonan picking up the meme - and I still think it's a mistake. Yes, I think that civility, honor, and tradition for instance are important. But we are not, and the world is not, what it once was. And to make decisions on moving into the future based upon not what we are but what we once were will lead us down some treacherous paths.
Just my random musing...

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


As always, I appreciate your perspective. One of my concerns is I see nothing new in the New America. We've been down that path before. I would guess that neither of us automatically favors Old or New thinking but would prefer clear thinking. I don't see the beef in the New America approach.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

I worry about our country, Michael. We've achieved great wealth, and yet we haven't. We've made great advances in science, and yet we haven't. We've made great strides in education and equality, and yet we haven't. Our sense of conscience, of right and wrong, as strong as they used to be, are now ruled by a strange brew of media and politics. Lately who you are and what you are is determined by the party you're affiliated with, the newspapers and magazines you read, the radio station you tune to. Leadership is partisanship. We've lost our collective voice domestically, and globally. I don't know that we'll ever get it back.
The map has changed radically. What once was is no longer.
I agree with you when you say that we're caught between the Old and the New. And that clarity, that ever elusive quality, is what we truly seek. But I don't think we can achieve that clarity without deep introspection. And resistance to the temptations of sound bites.
Success, as you've written on a daily basis, is in our own hands - not in someone else's.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


Thanks for a very thoughtful post. I agree with much of what you've said. In the past, when people were watching the same television programs and reading the same magazines, there was an informal commonality that, despite its drawbacks, put the nation on the same stage. Civility was exalted and coarseness was condemned. The Internet and the increased levels of specialization have exacerbated fragmentation. People slip off and only read journals and watch programs that reinforce their views/prejudices. I'm not quite as down on partisanship since it has its advantages (sometimes the politicians are more dangerous when they all agree) but it certainly seems to have gone more in a "Question Time in the House of Commons" direction and, as amusing as that can be, those debating battles don't encourage cooperation. The public affairs television programs that resemble professional wrestling matches, the widespread use of advocacy journalism, and the machinations of media consultants have added to this mixture. It would help if there were a national drive for basic civility and the recognition that good and well-informed people can disagree.


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