Circle 001: Richard Goodwin, America's Future - After the Turbulent 60's, February 26, 1974

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The idea that we might do better on our own rather than under the direction of the federal government is a matter of prime concern among the political intellectuals who are now trying to determine "the mood of the nation" so they can properly plan for future elections and, more importantly, the presidential contest of 1976.

One of the best known of these cerebral strategists is Richard N. Goodwin - a former speechwriter for both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson - who was the New England Circle's first speaker. He had recently returned from a meeting in Nevada. The meeting had been called by anxious Democrats and it was attended by the "best and brightest" of the party's political analysts. From the gathering, Democratic leaders hoped to harvest the insights that would allow them to begin working on a meaningful (and, hopefully, successful)platform for the coming campaigns.

During his address, Goodwin took an analytical look at the results of the Nevada session. His prognosis was not encouraging. The majority of the nation's citizens - according to Goodwin and his fellow analysts - are in an increasingly wrenching tailspin of cynicism. Although the beginning of the nose dive came some years ago, and for different reasons, the Nixon administration, the fuel shortage, inflation, terrorism and the continuing exacerbations of race have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their customary confidence. According to Goodwin, they find no reassurance when they look to their leaders, nor do many of them still expect any.

While there may have been times in the nation's past when enlightened leadership was not forthcoming from Washington, or the country's other institutions, there have been no times when so many people were convinced none might ever be. Instead of help for their problems, most Americans now expect Washington to compound the troubles they have already. As Goodwin said, in a nation of historic optimism and faith, the loss of these crucial intangibles is a failure that borders on catastrophe.

by John N. Cole (Maine Times)


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