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Sen. Bradley sees urban diversity as strength.

The United States can continue in its role as world leader, provided the nation becomes a "pluralistic democracy whose growing economy takes everybody to higher ground," Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) told delegates at the annual Minority Caucus Coalition Breakfast during the Congressional-City Conference.

Bradley said America can lead from the exam,ple of the society and economy it builds, as long as current economic trends are reversed and historic racial divisions are overcome.

The senator also termed the diversity which is changing the face of urban America a strength, rathe than a weakness.

For nearly 50 years, world leadership was derived from the ability to protect other nations from obvious military threats from the former Soviet Union, he said.

The unanticipated demise of Soviet Communisim, and sweeping changes in Eastern Europe, South Africa and Asia as well, will enable our nation to cut defense spending and redirect resources toward meeting domextic needs, but poses a very fundamental challenge as to the nature of leadership.

"If you look around the world, you see crawling out from under the terrain ... all of the old religious, ethnic, racial disputes that were frozen for these 45 years in that bipolar confrontation," Bradley said. "Others are going ask 'how do we get along?"

"I would hope they'd be able to look at the United States and say ... 'they're headed in the right direction,'" he answered.

"America is really about two values: one is liberty and the other is really democracy, or equality," Bradley asserted. "If we are to live up to the ideal of democracy and we're to lead by the example of a pluralistic democracy, we have a distance to travel."

Bradley noted that one-third of the voting age population, mostly the poor, young and minority, cannot exercise the franchise because they are not registered, in many cases because obstacles have been put in the path of their doing so.

"There are important things to b done to make sure registration takes place," he said, endorsing measures like "motor voter."

The senator spoke of the problems of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and lack of health insurance. "The last decade there was a party and more of us were not invited to it," he commented.

"How can we lead by example as long as kids kill kids in the cities and people sleep on the streets?" he asked. "How can we lead by example as long as it's easier to put a man in space than it is to get a pregnant woman across town to a doctor?"

The Cold War was won at a cost of $5 trillion, the senator said, but the cost of that victory is now beginning to be seen in human terms.

"That cost is now manifested in a growing uncertainty out there on the part of a lot of people that they can actually have a better life for their children," Bradley declared, citing a recent poll in which 51 percent of New Jerseyans surveyed predicted their children will have a lower standard of living than they do. "We all know what happens in a climate of great economic uncertainty ... when people are in real financial stress and don't understand the forces that are swirling around them, they look for an explanation, and into that scene often steps the demogogue, often steps the person who provides the scapegoat," he said.

Bradley reminded attendees that such scapegoats are often the minority or foreign-born, and noted that by the year 2000, only 57 of new workforce entrants will be native-born whites.

"The prospect for a better life for the children of white Americans will depend on the talents of non-white Americans," he said. "If those talents are meager, the future will be grim; if those talents are abundant, the future will be bright. It is a reality that the American public has got to focus on. We have to move ahead together."

Bradley saw the nation as suffering from a "crisis of mean" in which desires are rooted in immediate gratification rather than in commitment to community, children lack connections to church and family and there is an absence of an historical consciousness.

He said this "crisis of meaning," coupled with the physical deterioration of major cities and increase in violence were creating a crisis of great proportions.

The senator offered three alternative solutions: abandonment of central cities, encirclement of their racial and ethnic communities by suburbia, and conversion through the politics of empowerment.

"We are either in this together, working for the empowerment and development of each individual American, or we will simply not only not succeed but will be incapable of leading the world by example," he concluded.
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Title Annotation:Senator Bill Bradley
Author:Turner, Laura
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 16, 1992
Words:779
Previous Article:Cold war end brings economic hopes, says Mitchell.
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