I begin today with a suggestion: If Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, she should call on all who seek to serve in her administration to take a pledge that for three years after leaving their jobs, they will not move to lobbying, public relations, “of counsel” or any other post in which they are paid to influence the federal government.
Imagine if the next president is a woman who breaks through the glass ceiling in America, once and for all, and slams shut the revolving door of special interest ownership of the government of America, in ways that are real and true and honest.
Some will say this might rule out some very good people. Yes, it would. Others would say this would rule out some very bad people — yes indeed. Above all, this would rule out some good people who do bad things in a system conflicted and corrupted by money.
In a new Gallup poll, Congress has reached humiliating unpopularity, with a favorability rating of 10 percent alongside dismal ratings for banks, newspapers, television news, big business, big labor and HMOs.
Here is the other side: I recently bought a T-shirt bearing a replica of the 1960 campaign poster for JFK with “Kennedy for president” at the top, a picture of JFK at the center and “Leadership for the 60’s” underneath.
May the Lord be my witness: every time I wear the shirt people stop, smile and make friendly comments about it. Another just did, as I write these words. He served in the Peace Corps. Many young people join him, feeling a special affinity for this special man and what he stands for long after he left us, before these young people were even born.
Clinton has a very big decision to make, even before she decides whether to run for president. It is what kind of presidency she could bring, and whether she will act with the vision and courage and daring to challenge us to be, as the U.S. Army says, “all that you can be.” No doubt she thinks about such things today.
The real America is not merely the humiliating public disapproval of Congress and many large institutions. These are proper public reactions to those who abuse our trust.
The real America is the reaction to my JFK shirt, which represents a nation waiting to be summoned to larger purposes and higher aspirations by leaders who view service as more than credentials to make big money.
Someday Clinton will be given the great gift of sharing her love and lessons with a granddaughter or grandson. My advice as she decides whether to run is not to consider the brilliant advice of skilled campaigners but to reflect upon what she might tell that grandchild when the blessed moment arrives.
The most thrilling theatrical moment in my life was in the ’80s when I attended one of the final performances of “Camelot” by Richard Burton. Near the end, when all seemed lost, Burton as King Arthur was greeted by young Tom of Warwick, who excitedly asked how he could become a Knight of the Roundtable.
The theater was silent. Burton clapped his hands so loudly the theater shook and shouted: “IT LIVES!!” My girlfriend sitting on my left started to cry, and clasped my hand. The elderly woman sitting on my right shouted out: “It does!” Burton stood silently, awestruck, until the theater exploded with applause.
Yes indeed: it lives. The good will of the nation is a torch waiting for a hand. If the hand belongs to Hillary Clinton the world will shake, but true greatness must be earned before the new voices of a generation can be born.