America on the Brink

David Gergen has served four different American presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton), and he now heads the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Last month Gergen, known for being a measured observer of politics, spoke before the Commonwealth Club of California and issued a very sober warning: America faces monumental problems. But unfortunately our capacity to address them has never been so diminished, and we’re this close to heading into a civilizational decline. Just what is limiting our ability to handle these problems? If you cut to the chase, it’s a mediocre generation of Americans – politicians, business leaders, media moguls, citizens – habitually putting personal interests first and the greater good second. It’s not a pretty picture, but Gergen suggests a few ways out of the woods. (Hint: education counts here.) You can stream the talk here, grab it on iTunes, or listen below. And if you think there’s nothing you can personally do to make this generation a better one, I suggest you watch the last few minutes of this Robert Sapolsky video.

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Comments (5)
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  • Zagrobelny says:

    Given that he’s gladly served some of the people who got us to this mess in the first place, I’m not sure he has the standing to lecture others about this problem.

  • Caleb says:

    I’m guessing the first suggestion for how to reverse America’s civilizational decline is roughly three words long and goes something like this: “Hire David Gergen.”

  • Josh says:

    This guy has an incredible grasp of the obvious… and an ugly tendency to make meaningless historical comparisons. Rome didn’t have VC. Ming China didn’t have Google. And no pre-American empire was ever subject to Moore’s Law.

    Listening to this talk, I had two alternating reactions: either (1) “dude, tell us something we don’t know!”, or (2) “huh?”

    Thanks for posting, but this is unimpressive stuff.

  • William Long says:

    After reading the posts, our country is in deep trouble, no hope. I am glad i don’t have many years left.

  • zafrika says:

    I remember Alex Jones confronting Gergen with his activities inside Bohemian Groove.

    Our wise man almost attacked him physically.

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