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Nostalgia for Community

“Community” has different meanings for different people. What it means to me is about valuing something larger than the individual. I think of my community as my town, my group, my compatriots, my neighbors, all those non-family people who are of significant concern to me. For me it is also political.

Former President Bill Clinton often talks about community. He has always been a bit “wide-eyed” about the concept of “community.” Even so I thought his idealism was an attractive model for thinking about the world. Bill Clinton went back to his alma mater, Yale in 2003 and asserted that ” ‘shared responsibilities’ among nations are key to creating a ‘genuine global community’ .” To quote from the Yale.edu piece,

Clinton said he preferred the word “interdependence” to “globalization” to describe the new world order. Interdependence, he noted, “makes it clear that the nature of the world today and our connections are far more than economic.”

In laying out his ground rules for maximizing the benefits of globalization, while avoiding its negative consequences, Clinton said all Americans and people residing in America should ask themselves three questions: “What is your vision of the 21st century?” “How do we achieve that end?” And: “What role should America play in bringing about positive changes?”

. . . He also emphasized the need to develop global institutions to establish and enforce agreed standards of justice and fairness. The United States has the military power to win any war independently, but “you can’t build the peace all by yourself,” he said to thunderous applause.

. . . Acknowledging the issue of shared values in a world where ethnic and religious conflicts threaten peace locally and globally every day, Clinton argued that there are simple values common to all humanity that transcend religious differences: “Everyone counts, everyone deserves a chance, everyone has a responsible role to play, competition is good but we all do better when we work together. … [Those] must become the globe’s dominant values across all the lines of race and religion. The only thing you have to give up to embrace that value is that you don’t have the absolute truth.”

I long for a return to the Clinton idea of community. Does Hillary Clinton as a 2008 Presidential candidate offer any potential for having similar views? To check this out I went to one of my favorite web resources for what all the candidates think, On the Issues.com. Here is what I found that seems pertinent to answering my questions.

Hillary Clinton in On the Issues: Every Political Leader on Every Issue. I chose from a very extensive listing of Clinton’s views, votes and quotes on just about everything. The following three seemed to give good hints about how similar or different to her husband’s are Mrs. Clinton’s views on community .

  1. On Principles and Values.”

    New Democrat: individual responsibility and community
    I have gone from a Barry Goldwater Republican to a New Democrat, but I think my underlying values have remained pretty constant; individual responsibility and community. I do not see those as being mutually inconsistent.

  2. On Free Trade

    End tax breaks for outsourcing jobs –
    Q . . . : A lot of Americans are concerned with outsourcing of US jobs. What’s your solution?. . .
    CLINTON: Well, outsourcing is a problem, and it’s one that I’ve dealt with as a senator from New York. I started an organization called New Jobs for New York to try to stand against the tide of outsourcing, particularly from upstate New York and from rural areas. We have to do several things: end the tax breaks that still exist in the tax code for outsourcing jobs, have trade agreements with enforceable labor and environmental standards, help Americans compete, which is something we haven’t taken seriously. 65% of kids do not go on to college. What are we doing to help them get prepared for the jobs that we could keep here that wouldn’t be outsourced–and find a new source of jobs, clean energy, global warming, would create millions of new jobs for Americans.
    Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

  3. On Families and Children

    �It Takes a Village� is about relationships, not geography

    When I am talking about �It Takes a Village�, I�m obviously not talking just about or even primarily about geographical villages any longer, but about the network of relationships and values that do connect us and binds us together.
    Source: Speech at Harvard�s Kennedy School of Government Oct 4, 1996
    Source: New York Magazine.com Apr 3, 2000

My hunch is that Bill and Hillary Clinton are very similar in their views of what community means. Senator Clinton does not think that individual responsibility and community are mutually inconsistent. She seems, however, to be much less enthusiastic about utter free trade than President Clinton. Regarding “the network of relationships and values that do connect us and binds us together,” these words mean community to me. I am optimistic about the possibilities of something more than mere nostalgia in the future.

Links: Cross posted at The Reaction.

My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about China.

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One thought on “Nostalgia for Community

  1. Bill was also the guy who fought hard for NAFTA – possibly the most destructive thing to come down America’s pike in some time.

    For some reason I can’t put into words, Hillary scares the bejesus out of me.

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