At no time in our history have our national challenges been as complex and long-term as those we face today.
But the most salient trait of our time is not the threats posed by terrorists, an anemic economy or climate change. It's our inability to respond coherently and effectively to obvious problems before they become crises.
That is why the early reactions to the proposal from Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, chairmen of the president's bipartisan deficit commission, should raise the concern (and ire) of all citizens - Republicans, Democrats and independents. A debt-reduction plan should be part of an "adult" conversation about our children's future and the sacrifice and hard work needed to shed our national sense of entitlement and to rediscover our sense of destiny.
Unfortunately, the conversation is already moving from one of stoic pragmatism to one of slavish ideology. Apparently, we can't discuss any practical ideas with the emotional and intellectual honesty needed to address the very real problems we face as a nation. As such, we remain paralyzed by cynicism and apathy spawned by calcified rhetoric and intractable mindsets.
The recent elections sent a clear message that Americans want change; but not change framed by the binary, "either/or" paradigmatic choice between two parties. The elections were a call for the apolitical moral courage needed to pragmatically address national challenges.
If we can't even have an "adult" conversation, how will we fulfill the promise of and our obligation to the preamble of our Constitution: (to) "secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity"?