Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

We focus this quarter on three issues central to the upcoming election, though they haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. The first is the foreign policy of the United States over the next four years-not just, what should be done in Iraq? (which may be an unanswerable question) but also, how should we relate to the rest of the world? Liberal/left politics requires a new internationalism, and Suzanne Nossel ably describes what that might mean for a Kerry administration. Mitchell Cohen, Stanley Hoffmann, and Anne-Marie Slaughter argue in different ways for a more robust version of the internationalist doctrine.

The second issue is the Constitution and the protection it accords to individual freedom and political opposition. There are people on the left with a long record of defending their own civil liberties and no-one else’s. But that is not our record, nor is it the record of the people we have invited to write for us here. We and they are committed to freedom everywhere. But freedom and security sometimes have to be balanced, and in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the critical question is how to strike that balance. At least, that is our question; I don’t think it is the question George W. Bush and his associates have actually addressed. They have asked how they can exploit the fear of terrorism to advance an authoritarian agenda that was in place before 9/11. Our writers disagree about how far the Bush administration has gone, but they are generally worried, with good reason, about the state of our freedom.

The third issue is the politics of the family. “Family values” is a right-wing “wedge” issue, but it shouldn’t be, for the true defenders of family values are the people who also defend a decent welfare system, strengthened public schools, federally funded day care, the right to organize and strike for a living wage-yes, and gay marriage too, the demand for which is the strongest possible endorsement of the value of family life. The debate about the family has gotten extraordinarily tangled on the left, and so we have asked Cynthia Epstein and Arlene Skolnick to edit a series of articles, beginning in this issue and continuing in the Winter and Spring of 2005, about family, work, and politics-the really hard questions of everyday life.

It is a special pleasure to include in this issue a long essay by Jack Greenberg, who directed the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s campaigns for many years, looking back on the struggle for civil rights in the American South and comparing it with the struggle for Roma rights in Eastern Europe today. The comparison is wonderfully illuminating in both directions.

M.W.