Gary Hart believes that we are the verge of America's next chapter. Borrowing from both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Hart suggests that American politics works cyclically, alternating between what he calls "periods of reform and periods of consolidation."
And guess what cycle Hart believes is about to begin?
Yes, the cycle of renewal. It's all premised, of course, on an Obama victory in November which I think is all-but-certain. That said, I agree with Hart and I like his observation that the new cycle will be shaped by how we deal with what he calls "a host of new realities":
They include globalized markets; the expansion of the information revolution into places like China; the emergence of new world powers including India and China; climate deterioration; failing states; the changing nature of war; mass migrations; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; viral pandemics; and many more.
To rise to the challenge of creating a new cycle, Harts wants Obama to introduce three new "elements":
1. National security requires a new, expanded, post-cold-war definition.
2. America must transition from a consumer economy to a producing one.
3. The moral obligation of our stewardship of the planet must become paramount.
Hart says that "most Americans" get this challenge, thus the overwhelming popularity of the change candidate Obama:
They instinctively realize that old politics, old parties and old policies are increasingly irrelevant to our lives, to our revolutionary times and to our country’s future. The next cycle of American history is as yet unframed, awaiting a national leader who can define a new role for government at home and a new role for America in the world of the 21st century.
So how do we get to this new chapter? Paradoxically, for all his talk of the "new", Hart is really talking about a return to traditional American values within a global economy. He's calling for honesty, productivity and moral responsibility -- for a return to the Puritan ethic.