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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life among the Ordinary: Completing Our Nation's Great Unfinished Business

(Note:  Readers are treated here to a sneak preview of the write up which is printed on the hardcover version’s front and rear dust jacket inside flaps.  A formal press release announcing the book’s publication will follow.)

Is there a practical solution to preserve the American Dream which empowers ordinary citizens to do it themselves?  Life among the Ordinary is the product of comprehensive, multi-year study to find out.

Happiness is the aim of life, and virtue is its foundation.  Hamilton’s plan uses the forces of human nature to create an artificial class of wealth with privileges to its benefactors which are not the right of every citizen.  Jefferson says the system flows “from principles adverse to liberty” and is “calculated to undermine and demolish the republic,” narrowing the government into fewer hands and approximating it to a hereditary form.  Washington’s fateful decision under man’s creation envisions the greatest good for the greatest number.

Jackson stakes his popularity on a common man oath.  Government must grant no privilege that aids one class over another and act as an honest broker between classes.  Prosperity abounds in a land of opportunity.  But the new standard of worship for American society is and remains money, moral issues aside, as the war which Lincoln so deplores came.

The Industrial Revolution produces enviable physical results.  But at the dawn of the American century, Theodore Roosevelt reflects that there have been “two great crises in our country’s history: first, when it was formed, and then, again, when it was perpetuated … .”  The third great crisis is upon us, the struggle “to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity.”  He concedes the vitality of faith:

 Friends, perhaps once in a generation, perhaps not so often, there comes a chance for a people of a country to play their part wisely and fearlessly in some great battle of the age-long warfare for human rights.  The doctrines we preach reach back to the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.  They reached back to the commandments delivered at Sinai.  All that we are doing is to apply those doctrines in the shape necessary to make them available for meeting the living issue of our own day.

A handicapped president helps vanquish a Great Depression and restore the ordinary citizen’s faith in democracy, making capitalism more humane.  Some criticize F.D.R., calling him a socialist and his New Deal socialistic.  But the aim is merely to multiply the number of American shareholders.  “Is this socialistic?” he asks with a hearty laugh.

Yet despite the achievement, what has really changed, if anything?  “For the many,” Robert Kennedy observes, “roots of despair all feed at a common source.  …  Our gross national product … measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worth while.”

America enters the 21st century with record wealth and income disparity.  The fight for change among people who can't speak for themselves appears to be no match against the power of the entrenched status quo to restore the failed, old order.  At the crossroads the great crisis is in full view.

It’s along the “dimension of economic opportunity,” President Obama notes, “the chance through honest toil to advance one's station in life,” that the goals of the civil rights era “have mostly fallen short.”  The “measure of progress” is “whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many ... .  To win that battle, to answer that call --- this remains our great unfinished business.”

Is there a practical solution to restore meaningful equality of opportunity which empowers ordinary citizens to do it themselves?  The book sets upon a course to take the reader on a journey to that place.

-Michael D'Angelo

Note:  To learn how to purchase the new book in the reader's choice of hardcover, paperback or digital formats, see links to the right.