What is your outlook?

I see a lot of things in American life and American society that disturb me. We have a marvelous country, and we’ve been given a marvelous heritage, terrific resources, great opportunities. And I don’t know of anyone who lives here who wants to live in another country. And I know millions of people who live elsewhere who would like to come here. So you begin with gratitude, I think, for what you have. But you also have to recognize our shortcomings. We have a political system today that’s not working very well. Just defeated an immigration bill. We cannot figure out how to give healthcare to everybody in this country. We have an education system that is deficient in so many ways that constantly come to our attention. The infrastructure of the country is crumbling in many, many respects. The institutions are not working as well as we would like them to work. So I think the challenges are immense. Now I don’t look at all of this and conclude it’s hopeless, or I’m a pessimist or anything of the sort; but I do have a real sense of the challenge. And neither am I a starry-eyed optimist. You see a lot of people who portray a kind of false optimism that is not based on fact, really, and the problems that we confront. So I just like the traditional, hardheaded, pragmatic, old-fashioned approach of Americans who see their country and their community as it is, and they want to make it better.

Recorded on: 7/5/07

 

Lee Hamilton is traditional, hard-headed, and pragmatic in his approach.

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