Once we believed that there was nothing we could not do or achieve as a nation. Our destiny was our own and the possibilities were limited only by “the random flexing of the imagination,” as Daniel Boorstin put it is his wonderful book, The Creators. Since the age of Goldwater and Reagan, we have allowed the cynicism of the Right to convince us that most of us cannot afford a brighter future, that hope is for only the fortunate few. Republicans robbed us of our confidence in our dreams and belief that our collective energy expressed through our government could take us somewhere worth going and that we could all go along together and enjoy the benefits of the ride. Once we built the Erie Canal to span the Appalachians thereby linking the eastern coast to the interior of the country not just to expand trade but to create opportunity for all those brave enough to venture west. Once we built the transcontinental railroad to open the “western frontier” and make the rapid industrialization of our nation and jobs for the masses possible. We built the great dams of the nation to control floods, provide irrigation water and bring the benefits of inexpensive electrical power to every American. We built forty-seven thousands miles of interstate highways in what has been called “the greatest public works project in history.” We put a man on the moon. We created the internet. We did all of these things and more. Each of these endeavors involved enormous costs and great risks, to such an extent that no individual, private corporation or collection of private investors dared take them on. But, we, the American people, did take these challenges on. We did it through faith in our government. We took on the impossible, confident that no matter how difficult or expensive, we would succeed because we were Americans. We thought BIG as a nation and because we thought BIG we became BIG and powerful and prosperous. Most importantly, every American shared in the benefits of these achievements.
Republicans tell us that we can no longer afford to think BIG. They say we cannot afford to invest in clean energy or high speed railroads or protecting the environment or a thousand other BIG projects. They tell us we must “live within our means.” They tell us that most of us have to settle for a dim future. They tell us we must think SMALL. They are wrong. It is time to think BIG again.