Moral Authority

by Jonathan Bernstein

Mark Kleiman asks an interesting question: "Who in America has moral authority?"  Kleiman suggests Barack Obama, but it's a fairly half-hearted answer, as I read it.  He asks for nominations. I read through his comments, and I was mostly not sold on any of them.

I suspect America might be, for the most part, too big for the question.  Too many subgroups, too many categories.  I mean, just speaking for myself, if Bob Dylan said that something was just wrong, I'd listen pretty carefully…but really, at the end of the day I don't know that I'd want to argue that he's a moral authority, as opposed to some other kind of national treasure.  Perhaps.

The other group that comes to mind for me are the people who took a stand against torture during the last administration, especially those inside the administration or the military.  But of course an awfully big group of Americans, I guess, disagree.  Again, subgroups and subcultures.

At any rate, to me there's only one fairly obvious answer to the question: the gentleman from Georgia, John Lewis.