DURHAM, N.C. — Six years into the Reagan Administration, a scandal at the top wakes the country to what has been going on since day one of this presidency. The revelation that we have a juvenile government in Washington naturally arouses righteous indignation. But the moralistic solution--throw the rascals out--falls short of what must be done. If the United States is to recover from the collapse of public trust at home and abroad, we had better face the facts and restore reason to politics.
The facts are harsh. The odds of a last world war, triggered by accident or design, escalate daily. The restless Third World bangs against the bars of their debtors prison. The environment degenerates from Mother Nature into Typhoid Mary. Human rights violations continue to spread throughout the world.
These life and death challenges confront us at a time when the position of the United States in world politics is radically weakened. Whatever our solutions, they will have to be implemented by the most adroit and insistent diplomacy, for we can no longer tell even our allies what to do.
Economically, our relative position in world trade has plummeted; we have to haggle over cars and oil and textiles with nations we used to think of as our dependents. They are beating us, as the trade deficit shows. Financially, we are more and more encumbered with debt to foreigners. Diplomatically, we are one among many nations thrashing around to meet whatever crises arise, such as famine, terrorism, drug hustling, illegal immigration and the like. Our mammoth budget deficit saps our international power and, despite our sum total affluence, more than 30 million Americans live in poverty. Thus we face not only the challenge of thinking up solutions but the harder one of putting them into effect. Intellectually and politically, we should be concentrating our nation's best brains and leading talents on these tough issues.