Welcome to the last chapter of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire. In a sense, we have been moving toward this and it is realized with the election of the 45th President. We now move toward irrelevance in the world in a weird, cruel, and embarrassing denouement. I know it sounds strange, but perhaps that can be a good thing. Good in the sense that we as a nation are coming to grips with the failed policies that sustained a political empire but cruelly failed its citizens and wreaked havoc on the world stage. This is an empire that gave us healthcare for profit, endless wars and “nation building”, systemic racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexism that still punishes its citizens to this day. We are a nation of immigrants that doesn’t recognize the implications of our arrival in this land and works to preserve “America for Americans.” It sounds and is as cruel and ludicrous as it looks on this page.
The 2016 election cycle brought us the worst in reality TV where substance of ideas was brought low by bad acting theatre. It gave us the hyper-nationalistic slogan “Make America Great Again.” If you read my blog post “Lamentations on Greatness,” you’ll know that I think while we have the potential for greatness, we have fallen way short of it. I know this is really doom and gloom, but I would like to posit that we have a unique opportunity to “form a more perfect union” and live into the “better angels of our nature.” As the ugliness of our past and present become better known and understood, we can evolve into a better version of humanity and as a country bring to fruition all of the noble words in our founding documents.
It will not be easy and the status quo will fight this change every step of the way. Those in power and privilege will not go quietly or surrender the power they have amassed. It will take a concerted effort by all of our citizens working for the common good of all of its citizens. As I see it, there are 10 areas where we need to focus our efforts and these are in no particular order:
Environment – Energy
Tax Reform – Income inequalities in this country
Become a partner in the Global Society, not an antagonist.
Reforming Defense Spending
Infrastructure – Rail, Roads, Internet, River, Air
Money in Politics
These are all interrelated and to diminish focus on any one area diminishes the possibility for moving forward as a whole. For brevity’s sake, I will try to combine these and provide an overview of what needs to be done.
First of all, unlike the current Republican led Government, I believe that the primary purpose of that Government is to provide for the well being, (healthcare, financial/jobs, environmental, education) safety, and security of all of its citizens. It is a venture that cannot be driven by a business model. It costs money to run and unless we the people are willing to provide funding for that Government, we will end up with what we currently have. This current Government has no investment in its people other than to drain the last bit of wealth from its citizens to provide more wealth for the already wealthy.
Healthcare – Human Rights – Education – Immigration
I group these together because we are only as good as we can be if we pay attention to these issues. Healthcare is a basic human right, and should never be left to the free market. We need single payer and we need it now. Expand Medicare to cover all citizens, and by the way, include dental care in this. It is ludicrous to separate dental care from regular medical care. Healthcare for profit is by its nature cruel and unethical. We automatically relegate the poorest members of our society to sickness, disease, and death. This is simply unacceptable. Our humanity is demonstrated in how we treat our sick, and we are failing that test.
Human Rights… This should be a no brainer, but we as a country have stepped on the rights of humanity at home and abroad. We categorize and marginalize people of color, LGBTQI, Women, those of faith traditions not like our own, and our very institutions promote racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. We need to redouble our efforts to rid the system of those programs that marginalize people of color and punish those who aren’t white and male. Every citizen needs to know that its Government is working for them to provide the maximum opportunity for all.
Education… We as a country have to provide education for all… period. From pre-k through undergraduate and trade schools, we need to provide free education if we are going to succeed at humanity. Our education needs to tell the whole story of our country, warts and all if we can even hope to live into the “angels of our better nature.”
Immigration… We are a nation of immigrants. If we aren’t people of the First Nations, our ancestors all came from somewhere else. Who are we to decide who “gets in?” As a people we need to reach out and welcome those running from oppression and willing to seek a better life with us. Our diversity is our strength and we only get better when we include all of us in “We the People”
Become a partner in the Global Society, not an antagonist – Reforming Defense Spending
Throughout our history we have acted to promote the American Empire and all that has done is create conflict, war, and death. We have to recognize that we are citizens of the Earth and recognize that every nation on that earth has the same rights of sovereignty that we do. Every day the world gets smaller and our economies become more intertwined. How much better could it get if we would work together for the common good of all people and not just the corporations? Wage fairness in Honduras or Malaysia is just as important as Wage Fairness in this country. If we worked to take care of all workers, US companies wouldn’t be shipping jobs overseas. We wouldn’t be exploiting labor in other countries so we could buy cheap t-shirts or have cheap gas…
We spend on Defense more than the next 10-12 countries combined. I would like to say that it is necessary, but I’d hate to lie. This is what I propose: Defense spending would be set at a limit of +5% of the country which is spending the most for defense behind us. There is no reason why we should be paying more than the next ten countries combined for defense. I would direct the IG to review all current government contracts and to withhold payment to those contractors who do not meet the specifications of their respective contracts and to suspend their contracts. Furthermore, I would seek to withdraw US Forces from active, armed engagements and return to diplomatic efforts to restore our place in the world as a mediator, not a war maker. We would seek to develop/maintain a force that can be deployed quickly, but one that does not seek long term occupation such as has been the case in Afghanistan or Iraq, or Vietnam, etc. Additionally, I would seek to reduce the number of bases we occupy worldwide.
Environment/Energy – Infrastructure (Rail, Roads, Internet, River, Air)
Global climate change is a real and present danger to our health, welfare, security and survival period. We have to be engaged in the protection of the environment. To that end, we should: Direct the EPA to investigate and prosecute all violators of environmental law. Climate change is scientifically proven and will be met with all of the resources of the Federal Government to bring to justice those who actively harm the environment. We would offer incentives for “green” tech, and provide these for those companies that develop renewable energy such as wind, solar, hydro, etc. Automakers would be given incentives to develop an alternative energy vehicle priced so that someone making the minimum wage of $18.00/hr could afford, probably in the $15,000.00 range.
We need a complete overhaul of our infrastructure to repair the roads and bridges that have suffered from underfunding over the years and we would utilize green-tech in this revitalization. The labor market will benefit as we would be adding construction and alternative energy jobs to the economy. We will work to insure that the internet is treated as a public utility and not left to corporate America, insuring open and complete access to what has become a necessary utility in everyday American life.
Money in Politics – Tax Reform (Addressing Income Equality)
Next, money is not speech… period… All elections will be publically funded and any entity found to be funneling money to candidates should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Corporations are not people… And corporations do not get to direct public policy period. The sole purpose of the Federal Government is to provide for the safety, security, and well-being of its people… not corporations that ship jobs to other countries, or hide money in offshore bank accounts. This is not a profit making venture. We need to band together to care for those in need and the common welfare of all of its citizens… Corporations do not do that… People do.
Tax Reform is not giving the richest 1% of Americans a 1.5 Trillion dollar tax break. We need to work on a tax system that distributes the wealth downward. Making rich people richer and corporations richer at the expense of the rest of us is not only unfair, but cruel. We need a tax system that will support a Federal Minimum wage of $18/hr, provide for universal healthcare, education, infrastructure, scientific research, and environmental protections to name a few.
So, that’s it… I know it’s pretty generalized, but you get the idea right? We have a real chance to change our country and the world for the better. Who’s with me?