For many years, I have been writing and speaking about the danger of the rise of an honest and charismatic ideologue in the United States, someone who could exploit the fear and anger that has long been boiling in much of the society, and who could direct it away from the actual agents of malaise to vulnerable targets. That could indeed lead to what sociologist Bertram Gross called ‘friendly fascism’ in a perceptive study 35 years ago..
A great leader has to be flexible, holding his ground on the major principles but finding room for compromises that can bring people together. A great leader has to be savvy at negotiations so we don’t drown every bill in pork barrel bridges to nowhere. I know how to stand my ground – but I also know that Republicans and Democrats need to find common ground to stand on as well.
Imagine a country that flies into space, launches Sputniks, creates such a defense system, and it can’t resolve the problem of women’s pantyhose. There’s no toothpaste, no soap powder, not the basic necessities of life. It was incredible and humiliating to work in such a government.