We Must Summon the American Spirit
TAMPA, Fla. -- Although the first day of the Republican convention was disrupted by the hurricane that wasn't, the rest of the week is following the carefully planned script. As will, I'm sure, the Democratic convention next week in Charlotte, N.C..
Speeches will be delivered, standing ovations will be given, and balloons will drop as a smiling family waves from the dais. Both conventions will portray their respective parties as well-oiled machines ready to churn out solutions to our many crises.
But don't mistake the shows for reality, which includes 20 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed while jobs go unfilled because job seekers lack the right skills or training. It would be hard to overstate the devastating human consequences behind those numbers. But there is a real danger that by focusing exclusively on what is not working, the media are missing out on recognizing what is working -- the opportunities that are available, and the creativity, ingenuity, compassion and entrepreneurship Americans are tapping into to create jobs.
This week in Tampa, and next week in Charlotte, we're going to hear a lot about what each party intends to do to create jobs. But it's increasingly clear that whichever side of the aisle you're on, no magic solution will be coming out of Washington anytime soon. As John Bridgeland, CEO of the public policy firm Civic Enterprises, told me, "We need all hands on deck and there are concrete steps the private sector, fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, can take right now to help jumpstart further progress." To tap into that "all hands on deck" spirit, and our nation's surplus of resilience and creativity, we need to change the narrative.
And to help do just that, The Huffington Post is hosting panel discussions at each convention, which will center on those creating jobs right now and on ways we can scale what is working for the kind of disruptive change we need to end the crisis and look ahead to a better future.
And I'm delighted that Tom Brokaw is moderating both panels. As a journalist and as a storyteller, in books like "The Greatest Generation" and "The Time of Our Lives," he has chronicled the American experience in his own distinctive voice.
As a boy, Brokaw was captivated by the small locked box of $25 war bonds tucked away in his parents' closet -- which, he wrote, had "a kind of sacred quality." And it's true -- the spirit of cooperation, collective purpose and shared sacrifice represented by those bonds is sacred. And "the greatest generation" acted on that spirit to make our country stronger and better. Our nation pulled together to educate its workforce and build the economic engine that created the American middle class. Facing an uncertain future, Americans summoned a spirit of optimism, ingenuity and resilience.
Along with our panels, we'll be hosting a jobs expo, bringing entrepreneurs of all stripes together to showcase the ways they're creating jobs and providing training to America's workforce. We want to open up the lines of communication, and get entrepreneurs and policy-makers talking. And we hope these conversations will continue long after the balloons have deflated. The jobs expo will be all about how -- how we are already creating jobs, how we can learn from each other, and how we can take those solutions to the people and places that need them most.
We can rekindle the American Dream, but to do so we'll need to summon the American spirit. We're not letting government or our national leaders convening in Tampa and in Charlotte off the hook, but we cannot just be bystanders waiting for them to act. There is much to be done, but there is already much being done. By putting the spotlight on what is working, we hope to change the narrative away from a fatalistic acceptance of our jobs crisis to the ingenuity and resilience that have always defined our country.
Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.(c) 2012 Arianna Huffington. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.