If the re-election of President Obama is to mark a new era of liberal governance, let's at least have some causes worthy of the liberal moral impulse. The one advantage of a social challenge on this scale is that it offers broad opportunities for creative policy: promoting early childhood education and parenting skills; encouraging youth development and mentoring; expanding technical education and apprenticeships; fostering college enrollment and completion; offering greater opportunities for national service; extending wage subsidies to low-income, non-custodial fathers; reforming sentencing and easing prisoner re-entry. When there is a canyon to fill, just about everyone can usefully take a shovel.
A large presidential initiative on this topic would have an influence beyond policy. It would encourage understanding for some Americans who currently attract little of it. It would allow Obama to solicit conservative input and engage religious institutions. And it would be a powerful way to dispel the second-term blues.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.
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