A Liberal Mandate: Reflections on our Founding Vision and Rants on how we have Failed to Achieve itby Keith Martin
So, the day following after President Kennedy’s speech officially triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis, I crossed Checkpoint
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“It was probably a foolish thing to do. No, it definitely was. I can’t say I didn’t know any better. After all, I had just graduated from college. I guess I was still in the immortal phase of my life.
So, the day following after President Kennedy’s speech officially triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis, I crossed Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. I don’t remember if I had decided earlier to take a little field trip or whether I just wanted to imagine myself part of some international intrigue. I do know I wanted to wave the American flag behind enemy lines and experience that curious blend of safety and danger. In fact, every time I wandered the streets of East Berlin I reassured myself by patting my passport. I felt secure, but above all I was proud to be an American.”
So begins Chapter I. But that was then, this is now. We have only recently emerged from enduring a near ruinous full-scale conservative assault on America’s founding vision, from Reagan in 1980 through Bush in 2008, with Clinton’s eight middle of the road years being merely a blip on the radar screen. With President Obama we have an opportunity to once again return our roots, but we must seize this occasion, or it may be lost for decades to come.
As the title descriptively if not succinctly indicates, A Liberal Mandate: Reflections on our Founding Vision and Rants on how we have Failed to Realize it argues that the vision handed down to us by our founding fathers through the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution mandates a liberal approach to governance as we have understood it since the New Deal.
In the first few sentences of the Declaration along with the Preamble to the Constitution, the framers eloquently and profoundly describe what we could and should become. “Without a vision the people perish.” No country in history has had a more inspiring vision, but we have been ignoring it, and the American Dream has turned into a nightmare for far too many of us.
A Liberal Mandate is intended to be more than just uncompromisingly left-wing. It is personal, born out of sadness and anger, hope and despair, empathy and disgust, pride and embarrassment. “In order to form a more perfect Union.” We will never fully realize the vision set out for us, but each generation has a moral obligation to “more” closely approximate it. This polemic, diatribe, rant is an attempt to make a contribution to this obligation.
Keith Martin's "A Liberal Mandate" compiles many of the ironies and condemns the defeat of liberal public policy aspirations over the past generation. Identifying the Johnson Administration as the last productive period for the liberal agenda, he criticizes the robustness and increasing selfishness of reactionary public policies as, flatly, immoral. He is persuasive.
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Meet the Author
Keith Martin’s rather eclectic career includes government service, foreign and domestic; the ministry, with a stint on Capitol Hill attempting to speak truth to power; and education, including teaching graduate courses on political and social ethics.
He has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard, a Ph.D. in international relations, and a Master of Divinity degree. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Marge, and teenage son, Zach. Dr. Martin hates the weather and traffic, but has made the nation’s capital his home for over 40 years because he considers politics to be life’s greatest spectator sport.
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