America's Romance with the Future
The celebrated American faith in the future was matched in the past by a willingness to sacrifice for a better tomorrow. Today, the faith endures but the commitment to sacrifice is in doubt.
When he announced his bid for the presidency back in 1991, the then-governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, spoke movingly of the teacher who had most influenced his thinking, a Georgetown University professor named Carroll Quigley. Quigley was known for ripping apart a copy of The Republic while he denounced Plato as the intellectual father of totalitarianism. But it was not the classroom pyrotechnics that most impressed the future president. Rather, it was Quigley’s emphasis on the future in his foundation course on Western civilization. Clinton never forgot the professor’s preoccupation—and not just because he was one of only two students in the class to receive an A.
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Martin Walker, a former Wilson Center public policy scholar, is the editor of United Press International. His most recent books are America Reborn: A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-Six Lives (2000) and the novel The Caves of Périgord (2002).more from this author >>