Thursday, November 11, 2004

How progressives can win the fight for America’s soul

How progressives can win the fight for America’s soul.

Fifteen years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, marking the official end of the Cold War. It was a high-water mark in American history, a victory of freedom over oppression. It’s now generally agreed that America won the battle of ideologies by using a powerful one-two punch: Ronald Reagan’s aggressive foreign policy, and the brilliant marketing and distribution of American consumer products. Those holding the reins of power behind the Iron Curtain couldn’t outspend America on weapons programs. Meanwhile, their young people were seduced by Levi’s and Coke and Bruce Springsteen and Madonna — American pop culture.

Once Gorbachev figured it out, it was game, set, and match. Suddenly America was the world’s only superpower.

Yes, we won because we were rich and powerful, but we also won because in the eyes of those young people trapped behind the old gray wall, America seemed to be having more fun. We had cool stuff and great music. They wanted to be like us.

Why do I bring this up? Because in the wake of President Bush’s recent electoral victory, Americans find themselves engaged in a new ideological war, only this time it’s internal, between the red thinkers and the blue ones. The “enemy” lives in your neighborhood and you live in his. The war is about “values” in one respect, but it’s really about the future of America....