Taking Jesse Seriously

His emergence as a front runner changes the race -- and the nation

Any American child can grow up to be President.

That idealistic sentiment began as part of the catechism of democracy, but through generations of rote it has degenerated into a kindergarten fable. Adults, of course, know the truth. The presidency is reserved for white men who have held high office and who have almost always avoided embracing a cause or expressing a sentiment that is far outside the mainstream of established opinion.

But there are rare moments when the truths that seemed self-evident begin to be re-examined. The recalibration is a slow process, and it does not always immediately lead to...

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