Great Electorate Challenge

Taking associate editor Ezra Klein's feature essay "Against the Great-Man Theory of the Presidency" one step further, S.M. Miller of Brookline, Massachusetts, writes:

"The competitor to the Great Man/Men syndrome is the Great Electorate Challenge. … The need is to promote a strong, continuing progressive grass roots, perhaps building on Obama's outstanding campaign organizations. Pressure from below may then ease the way to greatness in Washington. The progressive testing is less in Washington than in the nation's neighborhoods."

No Easy Answers

In his column "The Hardest Lesson," Robert Reich declares that politicians and journalists missed the biggest red flag signaling the collapse of the banking system: inequality. Reader Jan Smith of Delaware, Ohio, writes that Reich's argument "is not quite complete. Capital investment is international, as Reich says, but labor is not. Moreover, the fall of communism greatly increased the world ratio of labor to capital stock. These two facts explain why the world market system has been shifting income from labor to investment in virtually all national economies, thereby magnifying inequality.

"Deregulation can be corrected easily and quickly. Inequality cannot. That is to say, too much inequality -- not just in the United States but in China and most other national economies -- will be the enduring cause of the coming world depression. Last time around, in the 1930s, excess inequality was corrected unintentionally by world war." Let's hope that, this time around, we can find a better solution.

The Kids Are Alright

On Election Day, TAP Online contributing writer Courtney E. Martin told us "Why American Youth Will Vote." And the youth agreed with her. Wrote one reader, "My name is Jason Duong, and I am a first-generation American. I'm voting to see someone who can identify with me and my family and our struggles. But that certainly isn't the only reason. Your article touched every reason as to why I wanted to and why I did vote in this election. It was not only inspiring but fulfilling, and I am honored to have stumbled upon it."

DePaul University student Dan Crowley was "moved to chills" by Martin's writing: "I have yet to find a commentator who has been fully capable of writing with the voice of our generation, until this morning." Crowley also gave his take on what youth were thinking on Election Day: "When Barack Obama spoke to us from Denver in the last days of August and asked us to 'keep the American promise, without wavering, to the hope that we confess,' I prayed it would not be lost as rhetoric but grasped by our generation." It appears Crowley's prayers have been answered.

Partisan Papers

In the weeks before the election, the Republican Party of Wisconsin circulated an anti-Obama mailer that quoted TAP's own Ezra Klein -- from an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times back in 2006: "Obama is that oddest of all creatures: a leader who's never led." The Huffington Post pointed out that Klein's op-ed was written "several months before Obama even announced his candidacy. And one would be hard-pressed to find an article written by him since the launch of the campaign that praises John McCain as a more adept leader."

Indeed, Klein offered this to the Wisconsin GOP: "I'm Ezra Klein, and I do not approve this message."


From The Executive Editor

President-elect Barack Obama made his first appearance on this magazine's cover in February 2006, after one year in the U.S. Senate. "Obama wants nothing less than to redefine progressive values, make them more universal, and unite the country around them," Jodi Enda wrote then. "His first year in the Senate suggests a man on a long, ambitious, and intricate journey."

After the most dramatic campaign and momentous Election Day that anyone born since 1932 can recall, we are still at the very beginning of that journey. The question of how to make progressive values more universal and unite the country around them is the central challenge for this magazine as well, which is why we used the phrase "Our moment" on the cover. We finally have the chance to test the proposition that this country is ready for a vigorous and lasting commitment to equality and fairness. In this issue, I argue that Obama should (and probably will) take a patient and steady approach to enacting the big changes that will bring about a new political era. And Dayo Olopade reports on all the overlapping progressive efforts to shape the incoming administration's view of what's possible.

Environmental issues will be high on the new administration's agenda. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at some questions about the earth's future -- from the kitchen table to the streets of New York to the halls of Congress. A special report on Oceans and Coasts gets deeper (no pun intended) into examining those vital and threatened ecosystems.

Finally, we introduce a new feature that will alternate with Robert Reich's column. In "My Back Pages," we'll give writers and public figures a chance to reminisce about a book that changed their view of politics or public life. Former executive editor Michael Tomasky inaugurates the feature with a timely choice.

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