This Tiny Corner Of America Can Predict If Democrats Will Win In the Next Election

Published: mic (September 30, 2013)

While it’s easy enough to talk about politics in terms of any given immediate cycle, Democrats should always try to keep the big picture in mind by asking themselves the most important question: How can we win the next election, the election after that, and other elections into the future?

The answer, I believe, can be found in the Lehigh Valley. In my 16 years as a Lehigh Valley resident, I have heard time and again the term “key swing district” used in reference to my little corner of Pennsylvania. Generally defined as the region in eastern Pennsylvania comprising Northampton and Lehigh counties, the Lehigh Valley has long been thought of as a bellwether for the rest of the state in presidential elections, with Northampton County supporting the commonwealth’s choice since 1952 and Lehigh County doing likewise since 1980. Similarly, it remains one of the target regions in Pennsylvania gubernatorial and Senate elections, with its penchant for ticket-splitting frequently giving its voters’ preferences decisive weight in a state once described by James Carville as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the east and west, and Alabama in the middle.”

Even its congressional representation reflects the extent to which it epitomizes the partisan split in the rest of the commonwealth, with the last 20 years seeing part or all of the area being represented at various times by a staunch liberal (Democrat Matthew Cartwright, 2013-Present), a staunch conservative (Republican Pat Toomey, 1999-2005), and moderates from both parties (Democrat Paul McHale from 1993-1999 and Republican Charlie Dent from 2005-present).

There are a number of possible reasons why the Lehigh Valley has maintained its “swing” status, from its pluralistic (and arguably microcosmic) regional demographics to its history as a former steel belt mainstay that has maintained its economic competitiveness due to its proximity to major markets, diverse array of employment sectors, and comparatively lower production and labor costs. Ultimately, though, the best way to figure out what Democrats can learn from the Lehigh Valley is to identify the lessons picked up by politicians and local leaders who have been successful in this region. To that end, I sent a list of questions to a wide range of area Democrats, including a state legislator (Representative Robert L. Freeman), the local AFL-CIO President (Gregg Potter), a local party strategist (Easton Area Democratic Committee Chairman Matthew Munsey), and a Northampton County council candidate with a long history of bipartisan support (Tom O’Donnell). Of the many observations these yielded, here are the titular top three:

1. Offer concrete suggestions that will resonate with the middle class and low-income Americans.

Ever since Franklin Roosevelt cobbled together the New Deal coalition in the years following his first election in 1932, Democrats have been most successful when they appeal to the meat-and-potatoes economic issues that are capable of uniting all sectors of the working class. “Middle class Americans have lost a lot of economic ground since Ronald Reagan,” Freeman explained, “and that has created a tremendous amount of economic insecurity. They are looking for a party to champion their needs in order to establish an environment where opportunity is there for all who work hard, get a good education, and apply themselves.” O’Donnell reiterated these thoughts in his own answer, noting that these issues “resonate not only with Democrats but also with people who are capable of thinking for themselves, whether they are independents or independent-minded Republicans.” In addition, they want the opportunity to fight for their economic rights, with Potter noting that “we are seeing low wage workers stand up for their rights in an unprecedented fashion.” From “workers [who] would join a union if given the opportunity” but face employer retaliation to immigrants who “suffer under the constant fear of deportation yet are members of our community,” it is important to focus on policies like raising the minimum wage, strengthening labor protections, and reforming our immigration laws.

2. Use facts to counter the distortions of Republicans, Tea Partyers, and other conservatives who attempt to spin class issues and employ political “divide and conquer” tactics to their benefit.

At a time when purist conservative and libertarian anti-statist dogma has reached a frenzied peak, it behooves Democrats to expose what Freeman described as “the anti-government rhetoric in populist tones,” or the tendency to use government activism in the economic sector as “an easy to blame scapegoat,” for what it truly is — an “’emperor’ [who] has no clothes.” There are many ways of going about this: One could observe how the decline of labor union power in post-Reagan America has resulted in a fall in the average working class standard of living (as blogger Kevin Drum and economist Robert Reich have both written), or point out that the income of the bottom 90% has increased a mere 1% since Ronald Reagan took office even as that that of the top 1% more than doubled and that of the top 0.1% more than quadrupled (with economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva demonstrating how this was caused by top margin tax rates and economists John Kenneth Galbraith and Marriner Eccles explaining, through their diagnoses of the Great Depression, how income inequality breeds economic instability). In the end, as Munsey wrote to me, “the best way to combat this [conservative political tactics] is demonstrating that we don’t have a zero-sum economy and that ultimately these policies and programs benefit all of us (when operated in an effective, efficient, and fiscally responsible manner, as we [Democrats] do when in power). The reason is that assistance at the smallest scale to individual families and small businesses contributes to improving and expanding the economy, which is necessary for all of us to do well.”

3. Remain connected with the people you serve on a grassroots level.

As Munsey explained at one point, genuine “purple districts” (i.e., areas that could realistically swing in either direction during a given election) are becoming increasingly rare, thanks in large part to partisan redistricting. While this makes it notoriously difficult to unseat incumbents (save those who have been taken down by scandal or an extremist in their own primary), it can still be done by challengers who are “really strong and aggressive,” especially if the incumbent doesn’t take them seriously, as well as candidates who work hard to build popularity “in a very common-sense way that isn’t perceived as partisan.” Articulating a different take on the same thought, Potter observed the value of being able to “see, hear and meet the people who are feeling the pain the most. Show the paystub of a minimum wage worker and have them show you what it is like to create a budget to live on. Have an undocumented worker tell you how employers have stiffed them because they know that there is no legal recourse forcing them to pay them. Real stories work!” In short, as O’Donnell succinctly summed it up, you should never underestimate the importance of “talking one-on-one with voters and listening to what they are saying.” Even though this can be difficult thanks to campaign finance laws (which, O’Donnell mused, “elected officials talk about [changing] but really don’t want changed because it favors them”), a resourceful candidate can still pull an upset by pressing the flesh, going door-to-door, and appearing at major events.

When the historian Henry Adams wrote that “had New England, New York, and Virginia been swept out of existence in 1800, democracy could have better spared them all than have lost Pennsylvania,” he didn’t have the Democratic Party in mind… but he might as well have.

While this overview is by no means comprehensive or complete, it does offer a look at the nuts-and-bolts of how Democrats can revive their party brand. By focusing on the economic issues that matter to average voters and have worked for us in the past, aggressively countering conservative arguments, and remembering the importance of door-to-door grassroots politicking, we can recapture the heart of American political debate.

Ted Cruz’s 21-Hour Senate Speech Was Full Of a Lot Of Hot Air

Published: mic (September 25, 2013)

After 21 hours of orating, Senator Ted Cruz’s one-man jeremiad against Obamacare has officially come to an end.

What in the world are we to make of it?

Certainly the punditocracy has not come up short on feedback. Top Republicans are livid at Cruz for what they perceive to be his grandstanding, even going so far as to send research to Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace to be used against him. Progressives, naturally, despise his vitriolic liberal-bashing as symptomatic of what is so toxic about our political culture, with terms like “brute” and “embarrassment” appearing in a recent New York Times piece. Tea Partyers, predictably, are strongly backing him, even going so far as to consider opposing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the primaries for his unwillingness to support Cruz’s effort.

Yet for all of this talk about Cruz’s motives, precious little has been said about the speech itself. To better understand the former, a look at the latter is quite instructive.

Poring through the transcript, one first notices an almost schizophrenic quality to the text, a compulsive tendency to wildly vacillate between the shrill platitudes that have marked Tea Party anti-Obamacare rhetoric since 2009 and silly little asides meant to humanize the speaker (and, presumably, leaven the proceedings for listeners and readers). Hence the same address can contain self-martyring grandstanding (“I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.”), a flagrant violation of Godwin’s Law (“If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possibly stand against them.'”), an endorsement of White Castle burgers (“I like their little burgers … I’m a big fan of eating White Castle burgers.”), and the standard series of right-wing talking points (“This bill is not working because it kills jobs and the backbone of the American middle class, because it’s killing free clinics and reducing access to care, because Americans love freedom….”)

While it wouldn’t be fair to characterize this as Cruz saying nothing, he certainly isn’t saying anything useful or new. Opponents of Obamacare may feel some catharsis but will hardly walk away with novel or intelligent ways to advance their case (Ron Paul or William F. Buckley, Cruz is not); supporters will be incensed, but their ire was inevitable, so Cruz’s ability to call it forth required no real talent; and those on the fence will, given the lack of any innovating or inspiring argument from Cruz’s text, likely remain exactly where they were before. Indeed, one could be forgiven for recalling some choice words penned by H. L. Mencken nearly a century ago about one of the most infamous orations of all time: the inaugural address of President Warren G. Harding.

“When Dr. Harding [a sarcastic honorific] prepares a speech he does not think of it in terms of an educated reader locked up in jail, but in terms of a great horde of stoneheads gathered around a stand. That is to say, the thing is always a stump speech; it is conceived as a stump speech and written as a stump speech. More, it is a stump speech addressed to the sort of audience that the speaker has been used to all of his life, to wit, an audience of small town yokels, of low political serfs, or morons scarcely able to understand a word of more than two syllables, and wholly unable to pursue a logical idea for more than two centimeters. Such imbeciles do not want ideas — that is, new ideas, ideas that are unfamiliar, ideas that challenge their attention. What they want is simply a gaudy series of platitudes, of sonorous nonsense driven home with gestures.”

And that, ultimately, was the point of Ted Cruz’s recent spectacle. The content of what he said didn’t really matter; so long as it touched the right nerves, it would achieve its main objective, which was to be noticed. Cruz is now the top search on Google Trends, one of the hottest names in the Republican Party, a man who — for better worse — you are talking about, and I am writing about.

In short, America was just subjected to a 21 hour political Rorschach test, one of the biggest and flashiest in recent memory. Republicans, Democrats, liberal, conservatives … whether they loved it or hated it, the very fact that they paid attention meant that they played their part. When the history of Obamacare is written, of course, this speech will only be a footnote (any procedural maneuvering that impedes its funding will have come from parliamentary technicians like the much-maligned McConnell, not the self-indulgent Cruz), but it may be one that belongs in boldface. After all, when else has American politics offered such a perfect encapsulation of the Shakespearean aphorism:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

What This 1898 War Can Teach Obama Today About Syria

Published: mic (September 13, 2013)

Political insight can come from the darndest places.

On this occasion, inspiration struck me in the midst of insomnia-induced light reading. My nocturnal literary companion, Kristin L. Hoganson’s classic historical monograph Fighting for American Manhood, was discussing the various ways in which Victorian ideals on masculinity influenced America’s imperialist ambitions at the turn-of-the-century. As I reached the chapter on President William McKinley’s decision to go to war with the Spanish Empire, aptly titled “McKinley’s Backbone,” I came across this thought-provoking observation:

Those who have focused attention on McKinley’s courage or strength … have deflected attention from a more significant issue: How did U.S. political culture, especially the need to appear manly in order to wield political authority, affect what seemed to be viable policy alternatives in the aftermath of the Maine disaster?

Although Hoganson’s question only pertains to the aftermath of the February 1898 sinking of the USS Maine (one that, despite unclear evidence as to the actual cause of the explosion, was widely blamed on Spain thanks to jingoistic politicians, muckraking newspaper editors, and a pre-existing hostility against the Spanish Empire due to its brutal repression of independence rebels in Cuba), it has intriguing implications for the dilemma Barack Obama must deal with in Syria.

Like McKinley, who abhorred war and privately emphasized his desire to resolve conflicts through peaceful means whenever possible, Obama has made it clear that he wishes to explore other diplomatic and other foreign policy options before resorting to military violence. Also like McKinley, he is being confronted with enormous political pressure to forgo these potential alternatives and declare war as quickly as possible. While the social rules of our PC age have made direct attacks on Obama’s masculinity unacceptable in mainstream political discourse (although subtle ones can be found), the general notion that his reluctance to go to war makes him weak can be traced back to similar conceptual roots.

In short, even though the details were often quite different, the fundamental struggle both men face(d) was essentially the same: President versus paradigm, with the responsibilities of sound statecraft being pitted against a wide array of social assumptions that compel true leaders to, idiomatically speaking, “think outside the box.”

Of course, because he was either unable or unwilling to defy the paradigmatic thinking of his time, McKinley ultimately succumbed to outside pressures and declared war on Spain, triggering first the Spanish-American and then the Philippine-American wars. Similarly, for Obama to avoid repeating his predecessor’s mistakes, he will need to challenge several of our own time’s faulty premises as to what defines strong foreign policy leadership, including:

1. The idea that strong leadership is best demonstrated through non-deferential use of executive agency.

If there is any cause for hope that Obama will attempt to shape as well as follow the flow of history, it is his decision to ask Congress for permission to declare war on Syria rather than follow the precedent set by the Korean War, which President Harry Truman entered without legislative approval. Given that Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution explicitly designated Congress with the power “to declare war,” it is noteworthy and refreshing that Obama has returned to Madisonian principles here after it has been flouted for more than six decades. At the same time, it is now incumbent upon him to make sure that he honors Congress’s decision, regardless of how closely it hews to his administration’s own preferred policy. Conservatives and libertarians are already channeling their hyperpartisan opposition to liberal presidents into a myriad of spinned arguments that attempt to turn Obama’s constitutional fealty into a cudgel they can use against him (e.g., George Will, John Yoo, Rand Paul). As those political pressures combine with the volatility of Middle Eastern politics in general, there will no doubt be many temptations for Obama to fudge on his promise to proceed with Syria in a constitutional fashion. How he fares here will be the first major test of his leadership.

2. The idea that America is morally compelled to intervene during international crises.

The most compelling argument for a military campaign in Syria is the evidence of the atrocities committed by President Bashar al-Assad, from the use of chemical weapons against his own people to recent reports of attacks against hospitals. While few would disagree that America should condemn these actions and exhaust all diplomatic channels in order to get them to stop, there is a danger to automatically assuming our responsibilities should extend to declaring war. For one thing, human rights atrocities occurr all over the world on a daily basis, which makes it tricky to establish which occasions warrant our intervention and which ones don’t barring clear threats to our national security interests. What’s more, American interventions in the Middle Eastern have a long history of backfiring against our interests; just look at the blowback we suffered after participating in the 1953 overthrowing of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran, supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War, and arming the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet invasion, to name only three examples (and ignoring more recent concerns in Egypt and Libya). In light of evidence that the Syrian rebels may contain extreme Islamist elements, we should be especially cautious before assuming that any force which deems itself “revolutionary” by its very nature shares our ideals.

3. The idea that America can afford to go to war.

Also complicating matters, morally speaking, is the potentially prohibitive financial cost of our involvement. With legitimate questions lingering about the price tag of a Syrian war and America already $1.4 trillion in the red for our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can’t afford to be cavalier about the prospect of adding more to the massive debt we intend on bequeathing to future generations (which is already in excess of $16 trillion). Even if one goes the Keynesian route by arguing that government debts aren’t always a bad thing, we still need to make sure the money we do spend is invested wisely. At a time when official unemployment figures are stuck over 7% and unofficial estimates are even higher, a powerful moral case can be made that any future expenditures should be focused on reviving the economy for the millions of citizens still stuck in the Great Recession (whether you support this by New Deal-esque job creation programs, tax cuts, or a combination of the two is a debate for another time).

None of this is intended to minimize the considerable differences between the circumstances of McKinley’s America in 1898 and the one Obama must lead in 2013, with the former needing to prove a young republic’s mettle in a world of Pax Britannica and the latter inheriting a global superpower in the age of Pax Americana. Such significant contrasts notwithstanding, however, the basic lesson for Obama can be gleaned from Hoganson’s closing thoughts on McKinley:

Aware of the links between manhood, military prowess, and political power … McKinley reached the logical conclusion that war was politically imperative. His decision to join the jingoes was less a reflection of his courage or cowardice, strength or weakness, than an acknowledgment that the political system he operated in would not permit any other course of action.

While Hoganson the historian is constrained from going further than this in assessing McKinley’s character, political pundits are not bound by any such strictures. The overall brilliance of her book notwithstanding, Hoganson is wrong when she implicitly argues that McKinley’s failure to stand by his principles was not primarily a testament to his character. Courage is defined not by what others say you are, but by your adherence to what you believe is right over all obstacles … even if one of those hurdles, ironically enough, is the perception that you’re a coward. Needless to say, America will greatly benefit if Obama shows the courage that McKinley lacked.

Why Indie Films Are the Blockbusters Of the Future

Published: mic (September 12, 2013)

Every so often there is a silver lining to bad news, and this silver lining in particular should resonate with independent filmmakers. As a recent New York Times headline blared: “Huge Summer for Hollywood, but With Few Blockbusters.” What followed was a piece reviewing the “darker realities” behind Hollywood’s seemingly “blockbuster” summer, which despite a 10.2% increase in ticket revenue over last year is replete with ominous signs. For one thing, ticket sales increased mainly because of the quantity of big-budget productions that were crammed in theaters, not the quality … and indeed, given that 23 films released this summer had budgets of $75 million or more, it isn’t surprising that there were so many duds. For every smashing success (at least financially speaking), like Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, and Fast & Furious 6, there were also bombs like The Long Ranger, Turbo, and Kick-Ass 2. Even high-caliber big-budget films that did manage to turn a profit, like Pacific Rim, often had their successes offset by the high production costs. Indeed, as the Times’ article pointed out, some of the most lucrative movies this summer were relatively smaller fare, like This Is The End, which cost $32 million to produce and grossed $114 million, The Purge, which cost $3 million and grossed $85 million, and The Conjuring, which cost $20 million and grossed $240 million.

This information brings us to the two main questions insofar as independent cinema is concerned: Is there a Hollywood bubble that’s about to collapse? If so, could independent films fill the void?

The answer to the first question is as simple as basic math. The rise of Netflix and online piracy over the past decade or so have already chomped quite a bit into the take-homes of the major studios; when the continued fashionability of ballooning production budgets is thrown into that mix, basic arithmetic makes it clear that at some point the studio system is going to spend more in aggregate than it nets. Observations similar to this one have already been made by sources ranging from the Huffington Post to Cinema Funk, and if summer 2014 shows returns anywhere near as foreboding as those posted this year, one can expect to see it reiterated even more.

The second question, alas, is a bit more complicated. Indeed, it brings me all the way back to the Manhattan Film Festival last June, where I saw the indie noir film, How We Got Away With It. Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to speak with director Jon Lindstrom about the economics of making independent movies in the modern cinema market. As Lindstrom pointed out, there is no guarantee that Hollywood’s loss will automatically translate into the indie world’s gain. “I’m not sure it [the bubble bursting] will affect the indie marketplace in a significant way that it hasn’t already,” he observed. “By then, since the studios don’t really support indies anymore unless it’s a real breakout title, the filmmakers will have figured out a way to fill that gap themselves. But for now, sales agents and distributors are asking for fees upfront to help defray their own diminishing returns. That may only get worse.”

Does that mean there is no hope for indie filmmakers? Hardly – it’s just a field that requires a great deal of sacrifice, and more than a handful of grit, from those who choose to enter it. “The paradigm has not been refined to a point that returns money reliably the way the old studio system did, with its strings of theaters and distributors,” Lindstrom explained. People who wish to break into the industry this way will need to view it as a “second job,” one that consumes at least a year and costs at least $25-50,000 once the actual delivering of the film has been completed. It is quite the investment — in energy and time as well as money — but thanks to digital technology and the proliferation of market consultants, it’s hardly impossible. “I think in the next year or so something will pop that gives everyone an idea of the most efficient way to get your work out there. ” At the same time, he stressed, “right now, it’s a pretty dismal option for making a living.”

Considering the degree to which all of these issues remain in flux, perhaps it is most appropriate to end this article with the classic Hollywood stand-by, “To Be Continued.” I prefer, however, to cap it off by urging our readers to endorse quality indie films wherever they see them in the only way that really counts — with their pocketbooks. Even as the fate of the Hollywood big-budget blockbuster remains in flux, we, as consumers, retain the ultimate power to support quality movies. Whether it’s “How We Got Away With It,” which is due out in early 2014, or one of the many intriguing offerings listed in a recent Houston Chronicle article on upcoming fall films, this may just be a matter of making sure that we’re making the right decisions at the box office.

War in Syria Feeds the Military Industrial Complex — I Wish Ike Were Here

Published: mic (September 11, 2013)

While it’s a tad unorthodox to opean a political op-ed with two historical quotes, this pair strikes me as particularly prescient:

1. “They [the Union of states] will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” George Washington, September 19, 1796.

2. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961.

When Washington and Eisenhower intoned these warnings about egregious militarism in their two farewell addresses, roughly a decade and a half separated the nations they were addressing from history-defining wars (the Revolutionary War and WWII, respectively). It is unfortunate that today, as the nation collectively reflects on the twelfth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, their words are as relevant as ever.

We can start with the looming possibility of a military engagement with Syria. Of course, in these days of Orwellian rhetorical exercises, the proposed actions are only called “war” by those willing to brave the charge that such a state only exists when our soldiers’ boots actually touch the ground (an argument that can be ironically juxtaposed with our sentiments post-Pearl Harbor).

Polemical semantics notwithstanding, however, President Obama’s pitch for intervention in Syria raises the same nest of war industry issues that troubled Eisenhower: The complex questions involving Constitutional propriety, the controversy over whether the Syrian rebels will further radicalize an already unstable region, the potentially staggering price tag — our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have already cost us more than $1.4 trillion.

To his credit, Obama has addressed each of these issues, although his track record ranges from the laudable (e.g., deferring to Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution by requesting congressional approval) and the factually questionable (e.g., Secretary of State John Kerry’s dubious reassurance that most of the Syrian rebels are moderate) to the arguably disingenuous (e.g., Secreary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s claim that the war could conceivably cost as little as “tens of millions” of dollars).

In the end, though, it is up to the American people to force these questions into the center of our political debate. Given how so much coverage has focused on the atrocities suffered by the Syrians — understandably so, given the heinous acts occurring on both sides — with comparatively less being devoted to the pragmatic and moral dimensions of American interventionism, this is an imperative we are collectively failing to meet.

There is also the unresolved matter of the NSA programs exposed earlier this year, with the mass electronic surveillance program PRISM being most notorious among them. As Obama himself explained during his comparatively halcyonic Senate days, “Giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate suspicious activity is one thing — and it’s the right thing — but doing it without any real oversight seriously jeopardizes the rights of all Americans and the ideals America stands for.” Regardless of what happens in Syria, post-9/11 America will continue to need to discuss the merits of a strong security state over the potential loss of civil liberties, whether they involve PRISM and the Fourth Amendment or the PATRIOT Act and the First.

Finally, there is the question of America’s larger vision for its own role in the world.

After the War of 1812 firmly established our sovereignty from the British Empire on the world stage and the Monroe Doctrine declared both our broader non-interventionism and our geopolitical solidarity with the Western Hemispheric nations, America spent the dozen decades from 1823 until WWII ostensibly avoiding foreign entanglements (although it had few qualms about abandoning those ideals when imperialist opportunities presented themselves, from James Polk’s Mexican-American War and William McKinley’s Spanish-American War to Woodrow Wilson’s involvement in WWI). During the half century separating the start of WWII from the end of the Cold War, we defined ourselves by conflicts with tyrannical empires peddling malevolent ideologies, be it the Nazism of the Third Reich or the Communism of the Soviet Union.

Over the past two decades, however, the U.S. has lacked a comparably clear sense of purpose, with the economic imperialism of China and provocative behavior of Russian President Vladimir Putin (including his granting of asylum to Edward Snowden) murkily muddled with a fear of Islamist terrorists that know nation and have no conventional army. As these and other concerns vie for attention, the need for an updated and coherent foreign policy paradigm remains as pressing as ever.

Because there are no simple answers to these questions, there is no simple way to wrap up a call for reflection like this one. Perhaps it is best instead to refer again to Eisenhower’s words, for as he put it half a century ago:

“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

The 10 Best Jack Nicholson Movies Ever

Published: mic (September 4, 2013)