WASHINGTON – With the American economy sinking and the global downturn deepening, a new ad today’s New York Times proclaims an emerging era of progressive reform. It calls on Americans to remember the legacy of previous generations who rose above the Great Depression. The ad, sponsored by the Institute for America’s Future features an image that merges that generation with the new and says, “Remember Who We Are.”

The ad is the sixth and final in a series sponsored by the Institute for America’s Future that encourages Americans to demand a real debate focused on major crises facing the nation.

Institute for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage said our job as Americans is clear, if we’re to define our own legacy.

“We need bold reforms, big enough to address the problems we face. We have to choose new leaders and then hold them accountable to the promises that have been made, and the agenda that the country needs.”

Those who say that, despite the catastrophes, despite the election, this is still a conservative country, simply don’t get it. “It is not enough,” Borosage said, “to kick start the economy, bail out Wall Street and return to business as usual. We need a dramatic change of course. New public investment in energy and conservation and infrastructureto generate jobs here and now. Affordable health care for all. An end to the war in Iraq. Revival of our global reputation and alliances. A new national strategy in a global economy that works for working people. Empower workers and hold banks and corporations accountable. Investment in education from pre-K to affordable college. Call Americans to public service, asserting the common good over the private interest.

We have this in us, because the new majority today are the children and grandchildren of the generation that faced the Great Depression, and responded with bold and persistent experimentation. They empowered workers and held banks accountable. They built America to provide jobs. They empowered workers to organize. They established Social Security. Now, once more, we face an economic crisis at the end of a failed conservative era. Once more we need an era of bold and persistent reform. And now is the time to act.

The Institute for America’s Future is urging people to bring the ads with them to public meetings, church groups and civic associations – and to discuss them on the internet – building the growing citizen demand a debate on real issues, not personal attacks or irrelevant smears.

Other ads in the series outlined how the American dream is slipping out of reach for more and more families; targeted corrupt robber barons behind the Wall Street meltdown; looked at our spending priorities with the nation mired in massive military expenditures; addressed the imbalance in our trade relationships with countries across the globe; and examined the fragile state of the health care system.

The full text of this week’s ad follows:

Remember Who We Are
#6 in a series
A Debate Worthy of a Great Nation in Trouble

We are the children and grandchildren of the people who confronted the Great Depression, and beat it.

When we look back at what our parents and grandparents did in a dozen short years, it takes our breath away.

They brought big business to public account. They empowered government to address the needs of working people. They organized labor unions. They created Social Security. They rebuilt the nation’s public infrastructure. They vastly expanded the numbers of the “we” in “We the People.” Then they fought and defeated fascism, making much of the world more democratic and free.

And they came to understand, as their president said, “There is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy.” It is founded on jobs for all who can work, security for all who need it, freedom and opportunity for all to enjoy the fruits of scientific progress.

But now after three decades of conservative misrule it’s as if those principles were mysteries after all. We’ve got in the habit of letting public good be subordinated to corporate greed. We’ve let our economy be run into the ground. We’ve let bankers practice larceny on a catastrophic scale. We’ve let labor unions be attacked and our entire middle class be trampled. We’ve let religion and patriotism be harnessed to the pursuit of power.

And we have barely survived an ignorant presidency marked by an illegal war in Iraq, an icy indifference after Katrina, a brazen attack on our liberties and a bald complicity in torture.

Still the democratic impulse that our parents and grandparents handed down to us is alive. It tells us what we must do: We can choose new leaders and hold them accountable. We can take on the big lobbies and the small minds that stand in the way of progress. We can restore our civil liberties and respect for human rights; enact universal health care; protect a worker’s right to organize; invest in renewable energy; end the endless wars; regain America’s standing in the world as a model of freedom.

And we can build a new prosperity, from the bottom up.

That is the “true patriotism” President Roosevelt urged upon our parents and grandparents.

We know what must be done. The time to do it is now.

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