THE 1960s began with a summons to national excellence and moral grandeur. Eight years later, Americans are divided, dispirited and disillusioned. The 1968 presidential campaign might have reawakened the quest for greatness. Instead, the electorate's fears have dominated everything. Equally fearful of losing, the candidates have failed to articulate any new sense of national purpose and direction.

It is too glib to say that the candidates have dodged the issues. George Wallace has artfully exploited white fears of black progress; in that unsavory sense, he has indeed confronted the nation's No. 1 agony—race...

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