It’s been a busy summer and fall for me and my consulting firm, Public Works: We’ve signed on several new clients, doubling our consulting load for the second half of 2015, I resumed teaching at the University of Chicago in September, and all of this meant traveling almost every day from May through September. More on all that in later updates – but one side effect of it has been to sideline my writing.
But today, I’m back online with a new piece in US News & World Report on this week’s elections – putting them in the broader perspective of a global movement towards populist, outsider politics of both the left and right. You can read “The Center Cannot Hold” full piece here.
Even before the 2015 elections were behind us, people were already focused on the 2016 elections. The Aspen Institute’s Rome office asked me to discuss the kind of presidency offered by Hillary Clinton in the book that essentially launched her campaign, Hard Choices. My Aspen essay is only available in print (not online) and in Italian, so I’m making it available in full in English on my own website here.
Here are some highlights:
If Hillary Clinton is any guide to Hillary Clinton, then the “vast right-wing conspiracy” needn’t be as concerned about a radical President Clinton as it once was. The most significant passage in the book may be this rather insignificant biographical tidbit:
“As a girl in Illinois, I played my share of softball, and one of the lessons that stuck with me was that if you try to hit only home runs, you’ll end up popping out more often than not. But if you also go for singles and doubles, even walks, they can add up to something bigger.”
This isn’t an original idea, and could reflect Clinton’s tactical approach without speaking to any larger strategic vision. What’s striking about Hard Choices, however, is that this appears to be the strategic vision: Whatever her politics, Hillary is, essentially, a tactical, and conservative, thinker.
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Hillary’s is the voice for going slow, for doubts and suspicions – for conservatism: As the Arab Spring erupts and spreads, she longs to join in the enthusiasm and idealism of both President Obama and his aides – which she consistently identifies with youthfulness – but sees more reason to stand with the regimes that have historically served as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. She opens a chapter specifically on the world-changing nature of new technologies with a lengthy denunciation of Wikileaks and, by extension, all the ways in which these technologies are undermining the nation-state.
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Currently, more than half the world is consigned to lives that limit their productive capacity along with their happiness and fulfillment, purely because of their sex. As the World Bank concluded several years ago, this is the biggest reason for the Islamic world’s poor economic performance.
It is what is holding back Africa, the continent growing the fastest in the 21st Century, and India, which will be the century’s largest nation. Expanding education and entrepreneurship for women in these regions is probably the single biggest change that could unleash global growth, stabilize dangerous societies, and relieve global population and environmental pressures, and (incidentally) generally make the world a better place for Americans.
Pursuing such policies would not really be a hard choice. But it’s pretty clear that a Hillary Clinton Administration is the only one that will make it.
As always, I would love to know your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below.