America is at a turning point; and as a people, we must decide what direction to take. Some mistakenly believe we can return to some past period, when America was great – say the Fifties. But those who long for that past need to be reminded things weren't so great for many Americans in the Fifties.

They also need to be reminded that in the Fifties, unions were powerful; and because of that, workers by the millions were able to move their families into the middle class. That was also a time when income tax rates were much, much higher on the wealthiest Americans. Indeed, the top tax rates are now about a third of what they were then.

But as much as some might like to return to some supposedly perfect past, life is not a movie, and it is mission impossible to try to go back to the future.

We must not only decide where we want to go as a country, we must also decide who we are as a people ... decide what it means to be an American ... and decide who gets to be an American. That will require us to communicate with each other and try to build bridges that unite us, rather than build walls that divide us.

Given how divided we are at this moment, that won't be easy, but we are fortunate to have avenues of communication available to us that previous generations couldn't have imagined. The Internet and social media have the potential to promote honest, heartfelt communication, and it's high time they were used for that purpose – rather than to tear each other down. And above all, we cannot afford to have these tools stolen from us by those who would use them to further divide us and bring this country down.

It is time to set our national priorities, as we did in the Great Depression, World War II, and the space program. If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can … well, we need to fill in the blanks. Fortunately, most Americans already substantially agree about some of those goals – universal healthcare, rebuilding our aging infrastructure, regulation of firearms and prohibition of assault weapons, and the need to address climate change.

Many Americans also believe it is high time to make some fundamental changes in our political system. It is abundantly clear the Electoral College has outlived whatever usefulness it once may have had. It has also become obvious that candidates for major offices, including President, Vice-President, Senators, Congresspersons, cabinet officers and Federal judges, should be required to show tax returns for at least the previous ten years.

These officials should also be required to divest themselves of their financial holdings, or at least place them in a true blind trust while serving. These officials and other high-ranking officials and members of their immediate families should also be prohibited from lobbying for at least ten years after leaving office, and preferably be prohibited from lobbying for life.

While these broad outlines are a step in the right direction, the genius, as always, is in the details. To ensure we get the details right requires that we elect people who first and foremost understand that public service is a privilege, and not a turn at the hog-trough. It also requires that we choose people who have the education, energy and experience necessary to fulfill our lofty goals.

To that end, each of us must put aside our prejudices and our partisan past; we must behave in a way that honors all that has been given us ... the blessings that have been bestowed upon us in this land of the free and home of the brave. We must demonstrate that we are worthy of the trust our forefathers placed in us, and we must honor the many who came before us who sacrificed so much so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.

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Comment by Tom Cordle on January 13, 2019 at 10:03pm

Maui I can understand your anger and frustration, but I remain firm in the belief that a revolution would be a terrible thing, that it might even spell the end of this experiment in self-government. For all their flaws and frailties, we're not likely to assemble the like of the Founders to lead us after that revolution.

Comment by The Songbird on January 15, 2019 at 6:47pm

I like what you said about Critical Thinking Skills; it sums up a lot.  We are NOT taught that, more - conformity, or 'norm.' Some newer 'normalization' of viewpoints came in with the varied family migrations about the country within that 50's to 60's era, which you said is your own experience, as the sub-urbs were born.  And it's easy to forget that only people of a certain age will even reLATE to any great-again concept, at least insofar as 'voting age' peoples, which youngers surely perceive in a difference to their elders.  They can hardly miss something they never knew, from a point A, to the current point B, according to those who do.  A lot of keys fit into that hole, but a lot of things were, and continue to be, waylaid, set askance, made-do-for, barely recognized, funded, or even parametrically reset, etc., Education being at the centre of much of it.  Choice.  Availability.  Skill.  Trade.  Furtherance -- Thought. 

But I always like your point of view, melding instead of sparring, asking instead of assuming, and we all can make a point by foisting a keyhole-view onto another.  But the point itself, with all it's periphery, is more universal and thoughty than simply being 'right.'  Pick a case, any case, a wall, a districting, a census -- what is the objective?  It's basic business, the most elementary of accounting skills.  You can't manipulate anything until it's laid out, whether it fruits or fails, with any accuracy.  To ub-bub-buub an inception of any plan, aforehand, only causes its own demise, eventually.  And if it's only upheld by protestations that some part of it isn't factual ... eeee gad.  Consider the source.  Jake Speare himself said methinks they doth protest too much. 

I think it is that very Eventuality that is upon us, and the thing around which we're speaking.  The crossroad, the choice, decision, aim, impetus, baseline -- is just like that sign-graphic you chose for your Header here.  

Thanks! 

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 16, 2019 at 1:58pm

Songbird   Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I came of an age when jobs that paid relatively well were easy to find, and when college was still relatively inexpensive. That said, it was also a time when men my age were subject to the draft and having to fight in a misbegotten war in Vietnam.

And that said, I consider myself incredibly blessed to have grown-up in the best times to have been an American – in those very days to which some would like to return. I believe I may be of the last generation to truly believe in the American Dream, in the notion that every generation would do better than the previous. Few in my son's generation subscribe to that notion.

Comment by The Songbird on January 16, 2019 at 4:40pm

Right there with ya, Tom.  The inner city neighborhood I came up in truly was like a Norman Rockwell painting, and the stores were small, family, independent, etc.  My kids got to ride the coattails of our time, although getting ALL the way through college came quite an expense in their mids, but they did parlay it, with Service, Community College credits, etc., and are about a last-bastion of that kind of fam life we knew.  But, they are also in their late 40's now.

I kinda wish those in our age gang would speak more about Nam's era, both here and there, but it seems a very touchy subject to some, I've found.  But that too, was very formative, and dismantling, as well.  A different core for Country, unity, and those sentiments; no longer a Given. 

But I do try, as you do, to be inclusive, aware, and do what I can in the world around me to put out welcoming instead of diss, curiosity instead of fear, listening, instead of telling.  It's all still in a midst of change too, with the Net, and I try to not be an 'abbreviated person' because of it, myself. 

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