The Word for 2008 Is CHANGE; What Comes Next?

Posted on December 28, 2008

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If I had to summarize 2008 in one word, that word would be “change.” (Historical note: 2008 is the 40th anniversary of 1968.) President-elect Barack Obama is the change agent and the man of the year for 2008.

Change. In 2008 we had political renewal, or at least the promise of political renewal, in the U.S., and economic upheaval in the U.S. and much of the world.

What comes next? My first one-word idea was “austerity.” Then I thought, “pain.” Or maybe it will be two words. The pain of the continuing economic change may lead to “social unrest” in many places. Maybe the pain will lead to positive change, such as universal health care in the U.S. We just don’t know. We can’t predict the future.

Jon Taplin, in his eye-opening talk “America 3.0” (10-14-o8 at the Annenberg Research Park Colloquium) helps me understand what happened in 2008, and what might come next:

“What I want you to do is imagine where we want to be in the year 2020. What would we want as features of this next generation operating system? For me it comes down to four goals. First, I think we want to be energy-independent with a radically reduced carbon footprint. Second, I think we want to have universal healthcare. Third, a world-class public education system from Kindergarten through college that was your right to attend free as a citizen. Finally, we want to have a multilateral foreign policy that has completely rejected the Bush-Cheney notion of “Pax Americana.” Assuming that is our end state, how do we take the facts of the current moment into our plan to invest for this future idea of America?”

That’s a breath-taking four-point program. I hope and believe that Barack Obama can lead us to that future. Of course, he can’t do it single-handedly. He’s going to need the full faith and cooperation of the American people. — Bernie Hayden

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