By Stanley Renshon
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Extra info for America's 2nd Civil War: Political Leadership in a Divided Society
Thus, candidate Al Gore decried a federal report (Stern 2000) documenting the targeting of violent material to under-age children and promising “harsh regulation if the [movie] industry does not shape up in six months” (quoted in Allen and Nakashima 2000). A few days later, Mr. 5 million for his party. 2 million for his campaign, Mr. Gore promised to “nudge” (a Yiddish word which means “mildly suggest”), but never to have the government regulate the entertainment industry (Allen 2000; Seelye 2000).
The truth is that Republicans and Democrats disagree on many things, but advocacy groups often prevent them from making their differences count. Mallaby notes that liberal advocacy groups have grown larger and there are more of them. They have also expanded their staffs, while becoming richer. Public Citizen, for example, has a staff of seventy-five, up from about fifty-five two decades ago. The World Wildlife Fund, started in the 1960s, is negotiating to buy a gleaming office building in Washington, complete with tree-filled atrium.
The importance of leadership in times of national strife, is not solely, perhaps not even primarily, an ability to propose and pass legislation. But what is? We have divisive national arguments, but on many issues there appears to be public consensus. What has been leadership’s role in the development of this apparent paradox of substantial conflict and shallow divisions? How is it possible to govern, or to lead in these conditions? How can we replenish the leadership capital of this society so desperately in need of an infusion?