I thought [Obama’s jobs speech] was great, I thought he was right on on the important points. But the question is: Was he screaming into the wind? And will anything come of it? In my generation person after person is just surrendering to cynicism about our government. People that are passionate about this country, who are believers in its ideals, somehow feel that their government has become broken, and infected. We’re far more focused on politics than we are on the things that we all know, Republican and Democrat, need to be done.
Somehow we’ve lost our ability to organize around ideas and we are only organizing around parties here. And that’s very problematic. If people say, first and foremost, “I’m a Democrat,” that is such the wrong way to orient yourself to the world. I would rather say, “I’m in favor of.” Parties in my opinion have hijacked our democracy.
There is just too much of a damned crisis right now for partisanship. This isn’t World War II, but just imagine for a second during World War II if you had the kind of hyper-partisanship where our leaders couldn’t get things done. The threat to this country right now may not be a Hitler-like attack. But frankly, what I see on a daily basis—the level of poverty, the level of ignorance being bred in institutions that are failing our children, the level of pain—I really see this as my generation’s greatest crisis. My generation won’t be called to storm beaches in Normandy. The great crisis of my generation is making this American economy work again.
The biggest long-term cancer in the United States that will continue to grow, will eat away at the core of our country, is the fact that we are not educating our populace for a 21st-century economy. High schools become dropout factories. A black male that does not graduate from high school—who is failed by those institutions—is more likely to go to prison than get a full-time job.
We’re disinvesting in America’s greatest competitive advantage globally, which is our higher-education system. What we’re doing is like cannibalism, losing weight by cutting out a pound of flesh. Look at our immigration policies: we say “Come in on your student visa, but as soon as you get your degree get the hell out of our country.” Or look at the K-12 education. You cannot have a leading economy when you have a lagging K-12 system. To me, these are things we should be investing in.
The ignorance of America is the greatest crisis going on in our nation right now—greater than foreign-terrorist threats, or you name it.