responsibility and regimentation without recourse” and the “bulliesand marauders” who roamed the streets.Showing the same prescience that Winston Churchill showed about theEuropean Union in the 1940s, Goldwater said he could “see a day whenall the Americas ... will be linked in a mighty ... a rising tide of prosper-ity and interdependence.” I don’t recall the Arizona Senator getting any credit years later for the North American Free Trade Agreement orsimilar deals in South America.Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech, made while he was president, was astark contrast to Ronald Reagan’s sunny outlook on America’s capabili-ties, and Carter paid the price.Mario Cuomo found out that it was hard to criticize Ronald Reaganin1984. He asked the electorate to “look past the glitter, beyond theshowmanship” and “to separate the salesman from the produce.”Itdidn’t work. People liked Reagan, and fully half the population washappy with his policies. Then Cuomo rubbed America’s nose initsproblems, speaking of the “elderly people who tremble in the base-ments ... people who sleep in the city streets ... ghettos where thou-sands of young people ... give their lives away to drug dealers.” America didn’twant to focus on the negative and returned Reagan forfour more years.Nor did the electorate in 1984 want to hear Jesse Jackson say that“InDetroit ... babies are dying at the same rate as in Honduras, themost underprivileged nation in our hemisphere.”One presidential candidate who embodied the positive and the possi-ble as much as FDR, Kennedy and Reagan is Bill Clinton, whose 1992speech was called “I still Believe in a Place Called Hope.”
The theme of the new is important to America. As in Canada with thefur trade, in 19
century America an enterprising young person couldalways run west or into the woods to start a new life. For generations inboth countries, people with get-up-and-go and a bit of luck could fire agun, stick a shovel in the ground, cast a fishing net or swing an axe andobtain riches beyond their wildest dreams. This lasted for about threehundred years—in some remote places, into the 1950s.This desire to reinvent our life situation, and even reinvent ourselves,creeps into political speeches. After the turn of the 20
century, whenthe frontier had begun to close, Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalismand Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom meant activist government(ofdifferent sorts) to improve the human condition. This may haveprovided a substitute for the individual’s ability to move west, or theopportunity of a new industry to improve personal conditions.
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