A house built on a strong foundation should withstand floods and high winds.
A government built on a strong foundation of solidarity and common purpose should aid its citizens when their houses are not strong enough.
Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina revealed that our federal emergency response system and the leadership responsible for it lacked a strong foundation.
As thousands drowned and lost their homes, President Bush and FEMA responded incompetently to this tragedy.
Over the weeks and months that followed, things at FEMA didn't get much better. There's been a lot of squabbling, but no one has stepped up to take responsibility.
Nonetheless, New Orleans and other communities on the Gulf Coast are making a recovery -- small businesses, neighborhoods, and churches are coming back to life thanks to individuals and organizations taking matters into their own hands. In the absence of proper support from the federal government, Americans have reached out to one another and begun the work that the Bush administration has neglected.
Those working on the recovery have honored a principle our government has largely forgotten under President Bush: I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.
Yet even for patient and generous people, the burdens continue to be overwhelming.
There are countless problems remaining to be solved: shuttered schools and hospitals, abandoned houses, faulty levees, and more empty promises from Washington.
New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast face huge challenges ahead. But rebuilding is also an opportunity.
In rebuilding, we’ve got a chance to create something stronger -- a foundation that can serve as the rock on which dreams are founded.
Our focus should be on strengthening the fundamental elements any community needs to thrive: maintaining local law and order, bringing doctors and nurses back to provide reliable healthcare, and attracting top teachers to restore schools that will give our children the chance to succeed.
But to do this we must change our leadership.
These failures expose an arrogance in our current leaders -- a detachment from the lives of real people and an indifference to the consequences for the least fortunate -- that cannot continue.
And make no mistake, the failures of the Bush administration were not just failures of response. They were the end result of policies that have eroded our country's foundation and weakened our commitment to one another.
To rebuild in the wake of Katrina and get our country back on course, we need to renew our commitment to one another. We need to return to this core principle of our great nation by honoring our responsibility to our fellow citizens.
I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. And that foundation is what makes all of us stronger.