For 36 years, it has been The Wilson Quarterly’s central preoccupation: What’s on the horizon for the great American experiment?
Sitting at the family breakfast table late one recent morning, I looked around bemusedly at the band of sleepy, late rising college friends my daughter Liz had assembled: Sabeen, a Pakistani American; Daniel, a Korean American; Brinay, an African American; and Jeff, a white guy who is gay. It is the sort of scene that would have been unimaginable, impossibly exotic, to whoever owned my suburban house just a few decades ago. Now it’s the kind of tableau that could probably be seen in any house in the neighborhood. Utterly conventional.
Nineteen seventy-six was the year I returned to as I surveyed my breakfast guests. That was America’s bicentennial, and the year the first issue of The Wilson Quarterly appeared in print. How much America has changed since then, I thought, and as troubled as our national situation now seems, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to 1976, splendid though it was. America was the great subject in the heart of the WQ’s founding editor, Peter Braestrup, the ever-grateful son of immigrants who had found refuge from the Nazis in the United States, and he established certain themes that have animated the magazine ever since, themes that were already my own when I joined the staff years ago. So it wasn’t mainly the diversity of my little breakfast crowd that struck me most that Saturday morning, but what it represented. Freedom. Change. Opportunity.
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Steven Lagerfeld is the editor of The Wilson Quarterly.more from this author >>