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What’s Wrong, and How to Fix It, Part 1


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whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it-part-1The Middle East and Beyond:

Editor’s Note: Following is the first in a series of posts analyzing the sources of American political dysfunction and proposing a programmatic response to those problems.

Adam Garfinkle



Some months ago my colleague here at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead, wrote a series of intellectually high-end blog posts analyzing the collapse of what he called the “blue model” of American (really Western) governance. With a small editorial helping hand, Walter brought together his blog-based analysis in “The Once and Future Liberalism”, an essay published in our March/April 2012 issue. It deftly used an understanding of the past, fashioned by charting the conceptual migration of the word “liberalism” over two and a half centuries, to show the way toward a reinvention of governance that would keep at center stage the fundamental liberal precepts of the American project.




I don’t have a garret handy but I do qualify as obscure, so I have taken up Frank’s challenge here, using my two colleagues’ basic analysis as a general platform upon which to approach the programmatic level. I first restate the analytical piece in what I believe is an original syncretic manner (footnoting liberally as I go, mainly from my own magazine, to express debts to others), and then get down to specifics. I end with a short coda on the foreign policy/national security implications of what has gone before. Both the analysis and programmatics here, each of which takes up close to exactly half of this series of posts, are ultimately mine alone, however.


What’s Wrong


Strong views on the sources of contemporary American political dysfunction certainly exist, but just as certainly there is no consensus as to which view is correct—and clearly, one cannot readily remedy a problem unless one has first figured out what it is. This is obviously no easy task, or it would already have been done to consensual satisfaction. Why has this been so hard? There are several reasons, but a key one is epistemological: It’s not obvious what we need to know.




October 15, 2012

What’s Wrong, and How to Fix It, Part 2: Political/Institutional

Adam Garfinkle

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