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America must continue to take risks and continue to grow in order to keep alive the country's romantic spirit, said national budget director Richard G. Darman '64 at the Kennedy School of Government last night.
"We must continue to foster the policies of growth, the risk-taking of pioneers in all walks of life and the romantic spirit that has given the world the American example," said Darman, director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. Speaking to an audience of more than 500 people in a jammed Institute of Politics Forum, Darman issued a call to all Americans to preserve the country's greatness into the next century.
Darman, who coined the Kennedy School motto "Excellence in Government" as a lecturer at the institution during the early '80s, spoke of the need for Americans to recapture the romantic spirit that characterized the nation in better times. He defined romanticism as "a love of freedom, respect for individual rights... hope, optimism, a confident faith in the future."
Insisting that America must remain "number one"--both in reality and perception--Darman reminded the audience of the nation's history of serving as an example for the rest of the world. "From its very founding, America has served as a beacon of hope, the proverbial 'city on a hill.' Millions of immigrants have risked and sacrificed--voted with their feet--to reach this promised land. Millions and millions more have voted with their hearts from afar."
Then, Darman lashed out at environmentalists, saying "It would be a regrettable irony if just as the values of the American romance were to triumph in the East-West struggle, they were to be lost in what some environmentalists like to term the struggle for 'global management.'"
"Americans did not fight and win the wars of the 20th century to make the world safe for green vegetables," Darman said.
Darman said he agreed that the government's greatest task is to reduce the budget deficit but he warned against making it the only priority. "This is much too simplistic a presumption to be useful. The problem with federal budgeting extends far beyond the issue of revenue."
Darman said, "We must conter the tendency to become a risk-o-phobic society."
America should channel its energy and resources into the space program, Darman said. This, he said, would reinvigorate the nation and help it recapture the romantic spirit.
"Man is meant to pioneer, to explore, to expand, to advance, to reach and exceed new frontiers," he said in his speech, "Keeping America First: American Romanticism and the Global Economy."
Darman ended his speech with an optimistic note, saying that America will overcome the deficit hurdle and deal successfully with its burgeoning challenges. He urged the crowd not to lose sight of the larger interest, "the light that serves as a guide, the romantic dream, and the spirit that moves us to advance."
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