Meanwhile, this billboard, below (above the "Boom") was seen in Times Square this weekend. So obviously there's a campaign on. Once again, it's wonderful to be eradicating diseases around the world, but why not apply the same logic to the US?
America is at its worst when our national debate stagnates over differences of degree, tactics and personalities. Most citizens would agree that we are currently in such a quagmire. But we are at our best when we focus on great purposes that transform society and transcend politics—uniting the nation and expanding settlement through the construction of a transcontinental railroad, defeating Nazism, and reaching new celestial heights through the Apollo program.
In a second term, President Obama should focus on a similar great purpose: championing cures for the destructive diseases—including dementia, cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS—that have tragically taken the lives of countless friends and neighbors.
Three elements essential for success are present. First, even with the scant resources we have devoted to cures, scientists have constructed some of the key building blocks for breakthroughs, such as the Harvard-Columbia work on the tau protein and its role in the development of Alzheimer's. Second, it is now very inexpensive to obtain vast amounts of working capital at historically low interest rates. Finally, public support for a "cures project" is exceptionally strong among people of all ideologies and backgrounds—independents, Democrats and Republicans.
The mechanics and specifics of how to raise, finance and allocate the funds for cures would need fleshing out. However, before we paralyze ourselves in disputes over the means, a re-elected President Obama should call us together to fulfill a compelling moral purpose, strengthen our lagging economy with a cascade of new industries, companies and jobs, and dramatically improve our fiscal position.
Mr. Andrews is a U.S. congressman from New Jersey.
Yet at the same time, a fuller awareness of the human experience could also inform policy, as well as the prose that spells it out. In his speech, Ryan spoke of a Congress in which the experts “take out the heavy books and the wall charts about Medicare.” And yet, Ryan continued, when he thinks of Medicare, “My thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville. My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer’s and she moved in with mom and me. Though she felt lost at times, we did all the little things that made her feel loved.” It was a bittersweet snapshot of the same eldercare challenges experienced by millions of families across America. And since the rap on Ryan is that he is one of those who sees policy through numbers and charts, it was a helpful filling out of his own portrait.
Still, Ryan could have helped himself even more if he had gone further, describing how a Romney-Ryan administration might take bold action to actually combat Alzheimer’s, as opposed to simply finance its dreary ravages in a new way. This distinction is more than a debate over policy; it speaks to winning vision. A victorious presidential campaign must provide a genuine vision for the future--using its imagination. The issue of Alzheimer’s is an issue of imagination, just as the space race in the 60s was an issue of imagination. In our time, America is waiting for an effective plan for dealing with the fear that haunts every family in the country--the fear of a costly and painful decline stretched over decades.That is why Alzheimer’s is a winning issue, because it hits Americans where they live.