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Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration. Koehn's research focuses on how leaders, past and present,[…]

We should be talking about inequality, says Nancy Koehn.

Question: What should be the major issues of the 2008 Election?

Nancy Koehn: In the next presidential election, I think we should be talking about income inequality.  John Edwards is talking about it.  The Sunday Times this week had a front page story about it in the magazine.  It’s a big deal.  It’s a big deal that has all kinds of subtle and mostly insidious effects.  As a side, we’ve ignored it for 20 years.  It’s time to look at it.  I think we need to talk about the usual list.  I think healthcare matters a great deal.  I think education matters as much.  But I think there’s one other issue that isn’t yet really on the docket in any kind of way with any kind of grip whatsoever.  And that’s this larger issue about what constitutes our lives as Americans.  So I spoke earlier about family and the importance of people, you know, living with … with a healthy and nurtured family.  Now I’m talking …   And I think that’s really important.  And with the exception of family values and …  The unsheathed ambition of that plan of the far right’s platform.  The unsheathed ambition of that plan.  The exception to that …  There’s been very little discussion about what Americans’ lives with their children, in their communities, in their workplaces, in their homes are like.  And I hearken back …  And when I say that I hearken back to Lincoln who, in the midst of the Civil War could relate the turbulence of the war and all that that stirred up to what it meant to be an American individually, and what it meant for the future of the country.  And so I would like to see in the presidential election a leader unafraid to take on the stuff of our lives with integrity, and dignity, and courage; and to talk about how that relates to where America needs to be going.

Recorded On: 6/12/07