As I write this, millions of Americans will be celebrating another anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Backyard BBQs and grills will fire up, the beer and soda will flow, and many will enjoy a day off from work. Conversations about the rising prices of gasoline, food, and other necessities will dominate many discussions, as well as who or what is responsible. Politics may be at the forefront of many discussions, due to the vast divides manifest in the present and so-called 'United' States. Fireworks and flyovers will be common in every corner of the nation.
While considering the growing abyss now common in Americans among states, communities, and even families, a recent AP-NORC poll provoked some reflection. The headline was something to the effect that Americans (including Democrats!) agree the country is on 'the wrong track'. Many headlines raise my blood pressure these days, and this (despite seeming somewhat innocuous) was no different than the rest. I wrote that the poll was idiotic. How do you determine whether we are on 'The right track' if you haven't defined what constitutes the 'right track'? If you are flying from Los Angeles to someplace else, how do you know if you are flying in the correct direction if you don't know your destination?
This is where I believe the eye of the needle exists that could potentially save the American experiment (not flying toward an unknown destination). There are fundamental outcomes most (reasonable) people want as a society.
People (reasonable people, anyway) want:
- ...to feel safe in their homes, in their communities, and when they travel.
- ..to breathe clean air and drink clear, pure water.
- ...opportunities to improve their economic standing.
- ...serious anti-corruption measures and oaths of office to hold elected officials accountable for representing "We the People" and not their own self-interest, or that of their political party. This must include serious criminal and civil penalties (not just resigning and an appearance on next season's "Dancing with the Stars".
- ...fair taxation -they don't want to be taxed to death -and want their taxes (or investment into society) to be accounted for, used transparently, and to fund key societal goals and objectives. And if they are paying an effective tax rate of 35%, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others are paying at least that as a percentage of their income and capital gains.
- ...a public education system that teaches real history so egregious mistakes of the past are avoided and future generations are well-prepared to successfully compete in a dynamic and volatile world.
- ...affordable, high-quality healthcare and housing.
- ...to know that they aren't risking their lives when driving over a bridge or highway.
- ...responsible gun ownership.
- ...a sensible and coherent immigration process that provides an opportunity to participate in the American experiment for other hard-working, law-abiding people from around the world.
- ...respect for the sovereignty of our own minds and bodies and decisions we make as individuals on reproductive rights, where we pray (or if we don't), and who we love.
There are many common values shared by most thoughtful Americans who continue to be intentionally divided by corrupt, power-mad political parties and horribly flawed media. I'm certain that some who might read this might reject some of the above or argue that other issues should be added. I would hope so. Reasonable discussions founded on facts, evidence, and science are what democracy is all about.
America is beyond a crossroads and has ventured on a dangerous path of minority rule. Corrupt politicians have concentrated wealth into the hands of a few and perverted the Judicial branch of the American government which, if not immediately addressed, accelerates the continued erosion of justice, equity, and democracy. Congress should start the process of expelling all who participated in the insurrection of January 6, 2021, as well as co-conspirators, and/or accessories after-the-fact in the cover-up and obstruction of justice.
There are narrowing opportunities to drive rapid change through forming societal-level, lowest common denominator agreements on the future of America, and then voting and holding elected officials accountable to implement policy, legislation, and appropriations that prioritize achieving those common goals. Putting America back on 'The Right Track' -is, in my mind, the rebuilding of the American Dream and making ‘the Dream’ achievable by all people regardless of gender, race, religion, or other superficial means used to divide and conquer us.
And make no mistake, it has taken multiple generations to lead us astray, it will take generations to pursue the right track toward what I hope is a destination that yields equity, justice, opportunity, peace, and compassion for all.