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October 16, 2008

Are we ready to face the truth?

By Election Day, we will have been overwhelmed by ads and speeches designed to make us doubt the character, abilities and policies of both presidential candidates.

And yet, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama are simply telling us what they think we want to hear.

Neither man will tell the truth about the past or the future of our nation, including the fact that both Democrats and Republicans were well aware of the present financial crisis and did nothing to avoid it. Neither man will tell us that the tax cuts and/or benefits they've proposed are no longer possible.

We're used to ignoring prophets in this country. In 2004, Peter P. Peterson, a founding member of the Concord Coalition, wrote "Running on Empty — How the Democratic and Republican Parties are bankrupting our future and what Americans can do about it" saying that the International Monetary Fund warned that the American economy was "careening toward insolvency ... increasingly owned by, or indebted to, foreigners."

Peterson explained why he wrote the book at that time:

"Because, while our problems are not yet intractable, both political parties are ... locked into a politics of denial, distraction and self-indulgence that can only be overcome if readers like you take back this country from the ideologues and spin doctors of both the left and the right ... We can't expect politicians to do it for us. We the people must make it possible for politicians to do the right thing."

Others told us the truth, but as long as greed and excess paid off for the wealthy and the ignorant, we ignored them. Now that we're perched on the brink of a precipice from which many Americans have already plunged, will we finally heed the prophetic voices in our nation?

Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of History and International relations at Boston University, writes in his 2008 book, "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," that "The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of these crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making."

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