James Webb

My own writing has slowed as I come to the end of Talent, my fifth novel. This gives me more time to read, and in the process I discovered James Webb. I read one of his novels, and then I found one of the best autobiographies that has come to my attention. Here’s an excerpt:

“During my campaign for office and at every possible opportunity after I was elected, I sought to highlight our country’s dangerous descent into a society where the elites at the very top have increasingly moved away from everyone else, until America threatens to become a modern-day version of a banana republic. I arrived with a full appreciation of our political process, gained over many years from a wide variety of professional perspectives. I have taken risks, sometimes making money and sometimes losing it, and between the two, to state the obvious, it feels a lot better to be making money. I did not come to the Senate to soak the rich or to punish the powerful. I want everybody to have the chance to become one or the other or maybe both. There is nothing wrong with being rich. Almost every American dreams of it, and it is a healthy dream for our country, as long as the riches and the influence are fairly earned. But in recent years, preceding and following my time in the Senate, I have worried about the atrophy of another part of what it means to be an American: that we have thrived on a guarantee of fairness as well as opportunity, that our leaders have a moral duty to protect the weak and the vulnerable and also the dream-seekers, and that we must never allow the very rich to become our masters. America was founded on a rebellion against royalty in whatever form it might reveal itself and on a guarantee that mere wealth should never be allowed to dictate the political direction of the country. Nothing would doom the American Dream more quickly than the establishment of a permanent, removed aristocracy , and quite frankly we are on the brink of allowing exactly that to happen. The never-ending debate of how a society must balance an individual’s personal freedom with his larger obligation to community and country has marked every civilization for thousands of years. But our unusual political system holds as its premise the belief that there should be no special access to the corridors of power other than through the force of argument and the rewards of individual talent.”

Webb, James (2014-05-20). I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir (Kindle Locations 5277-5286). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
I recommend this book unreservedly. It’s worth the few dollars you’ll pay for it.

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