The crisis of institutional paralysis is graver than the partisan gridlock that could be solved by having a Democrat in the White House. The real crisis is the emergence of the Special Interest State, a permanent, insulated state within the democratic state. It is informal, a political protoplasm of interests who exercise virtual veto power over issues such as health care reform that garner overwhelming support among the electorate. This is not an enlightened establishment. Its defining obsession is with immediate interests at the expense of future welfare, making it the chief impediment to deficit reductions or any policies of sustainability. . ..

Societies, like individuals, are not moved to be “competitive” or “productive” or “winners” unless they are fueled and sustained by a meaningful vision or goal. Any economic recovery plan has to be more than the expansion of McJobs; it must rethink...

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