Why I'm Not Running Again for the US Senate

I have decided I will not leave The New School to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska. The reason is simple enough: For my family and me now is not the time for me to re-enter politics as a candidate.

We have made a lot of progress at The New School in the past 7 years increasing our enrollments and the quality of our student body, strengthening our financial condition, expanding and improving our facilities, and increasing the numbers of full-time faculty. And we have great plans for our future. The New School is an exciting and talented community of men and women. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to lead them.

At the same time I nearly said yes to leaving. Again the reason is simple enough: I am deeply troubled about the direction of our country. And the idea of returning home to Nebraska to lead a political campaign based on a promise to do my part to change the direction was very appealing. I love Nebraska and believe in public service. I have not given up on politics or democracy simply because both have been debased in recent years by money, corruption, and personal weakness.

All of us need to resist the temptation of surrendering our interest in the outcome of elections or the work of our Congress. Too much is at stake. For my part I will continue to engage in the public issues of the day and to serve in ways that contribute to the solution of public problems. Some argue that university presidents should avoid public debates and controversy. I believe differently and, fortunately for me, so do the trustees of The New School.

How could we do otherwise when our foreign policies are so terribly off course and our domestic policies are widening income and wealth inequalities, ignoring terrible environmental problems, and pretending that the baby boom generation will somehow not demand the health and retirement benefits that have been promised to them. We cannot remain silent just because the American people are bitterly polarized on such issues as Iraq, terrorism, immigration, affirmative action, abortion, and homosexuality. All the more reason to engage constructively, respectfully, and determinedly.

So, the fact that I will remain as President of The New School does not mean I am retiring from the political debates. Quite the opposite. It simply means that for personal reasons now is not the time for me to re-enter politics as a candidate.