Now that large, sweeping majorities of Americans favor high-level meetings with those nations considered “enemies,” can we end this idea that the country is filled with jingoistic imperialists who want the sun never to set on the American empire? Actually, the public considers that a dangerous and radical view, never mind the fact that it’s promoted by the current President and the presumptive Republican nominee. But it’s not like the collective memory of the country has been shut off. People remember Nixon visiting China, Reagan talking with Gorbachev, Clinton trying to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and so on. It was in the deeper recesses of that collective brain until a Presidential candidate decided to assert it pretty forcefully, snapping us out of this neocon malaise. This does in a sense show the power of ideas once they are publicly stated by leaders instead of hidden away for fear that political opponents will use them as a weapon.

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