The U.S. needs a new Greatest Generation

Thus, an American born in 1920 who remained active to his or her early seventies saw the country plunged to the depths of economic and psychological depression, pulled up from those depths, attacked by the forces of militant evil, and emerge victorious in the ultimate just war when led by outstanding commanders. That American saw the country challenged by its erstwhile ally (the USSR took over 90 percent of the casualties in subduing Nazi Germany, but the West took 90 percent of the geostrategic assets at stake), and saw the victorious conclusion of the struggle between the superpowers without a general war. It was a Great Generation that did all this, but it was inspired leadership that gave that generation the opportunity to be great. Of the ten presidents, five of each party, who contributed to this magnificent sequence, the only one who was not altogether adequate was Jimmy Carter, and he had his moments. The rest ranged from the brave decency of Gerald Ford to the uneven qualities of JFK, LBJ, and Richard Nixon, to the solid distinction of Truman and Ike, to the uplifting success of Reagan, to the genius of FDR — but the really great thing about the Greatest Generation was that it elevated fine leaders. If this generation of Americans would do the same, it would be great also. They are capable of it, of attracting and electing great leaders and of responding to them. In a democracy, it starts and ends with the people; if the people want greatness, they have to find leaders who will bring it out of them. It can be done, and looking at the deterioration of the United States in absolute and relative terms in the past 20 years, it must be done, and so, it will happen. “The fault, Dear Brutus” (who was an assassin), “is in ourselves.” So is the greatness.