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.

Views: 239

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 10, 2019 at 10:53pm

This post was born of a comment elsewhere on Our Salon, but I thought to post it as a way of continuing the conversation about the future of this country. As part of that conversation, I'm including a response to this post elsewhere from a good friend I call Scott, since that is his name. Here's what he had to say:

Tom,

Good thoughts. And all good ideas. You left out: an end to gerrymandering by the local party in power, voter purging and eliminating Citizens United (and all big corporate campaign money).

Without campaign reform and fair voting oversight, nothing will change.

Personally, my argument is always Public Education. When everyone has access to public education (which is grossly underfunded in many parts of the country) then the ideal of equal opportunity for all can be closer to reality. The privatization of education (and everything else) is leading to inadequate oversight, undereducated kids, and more economic subjugation by a small elite oligarchy. This is not the dream of our founders.

My dream is seeing the current Prez and his many croney crooks in jail. I meditate on that vision as I go through my business of lifting spirits with music.

Love to you and your family,
Scott

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 10, 2019 at 10:54pm

And here's my reply to Scott:

Scott
Thank you for your comment and for filling in some of the blanks in my preliminary platform so admirably. I have a few observations on your comments.

Obviously we agree about gerrymandering, and thankfully it appears to be on the way out. Note it was on the ballot in my home state Michigan, and voters overwhelming approved a measure that would create an independent group to create congressional districts. Recent court rulings in Pennsylvania and NC, where the court held that discriminatory redistricting was done with “surgical precision”, could also spell the end of this devious and deleterious practice.

As for the underfunding of education, I have personal knowledge of the consequences of that sad state of affairs, in which state and local school boards largely control matters. In the seventh grade, I was in six schools all across the country, including in Michigan, Arizona and Texas. I can attest that at the time schools in Arizona and Texas were a full three years behind schools in Michigan. The much-maligned Federal aid to education has somewhat narrowed the gaping chasm, but my son TJ attended Junior and Senior high school here in Tennessee, and I can assure you that chasm still exists.

Indeed, Tj told me many times that the only things of value he learned during those years he learned from me. While that’s a bit of hyperbole, it is indicative of what I’ve long known – the best and the brightest will always find a way to educate themselves; but what is all too tragically apparent is that the bulk of students simply are not taught the most important subject matter necessary to ensure the health of a democracy – critical thinking skills.

As for the decision in Citizens United, I have stated many times that a vote for that judicial atrocity is grounds for impeachment and removal from the Court. And if one is to argue, as five Justices did, that corporations are in effect persons and entitled to the same right of free speech as actual human beings, shouldn’t logic then dictate that they ought to have the same moral obligations as human persons?

Instead, capitalist dogma perversely holds that the only obligation of these putative corporate “persons" is to profits. But if corporate “persons” are not moral agents and profit is the only measure of their value, what becomes of human values – what becomes of morality?

How sad it is that so many otherwise intelligent people fail to see the obvious irrationality in calling corporations “persons” and the grave danger inherent in putting the education of our children in the hands of an amoral entity. Indeed, I would argue that much of what troubles America these days is a consequence of the irrational belief that profit motive should transcend morality.

Peace to you and Paula, and let us pray for a better and brighter future for all mankind,
Tom

Comment by J.P. Hart on January 10, 2019 at 11:52pm

Commodities, sparky! We've worn out excuses plausibly since the crash of whenwasit? 1987? Pray that those who remain invisible are but howsitgo? Sorry, Tom. Lost my train of thought. My connection. I'd relaxed at our last overnight in a clawfoot tub and, ala Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man tried deep breathing with a warm cloth over my face...last tub occupant 'parently scrubbed everything with bleach cleanser. My eyes are puffY. Just waxing on and on bouncing off someone else's glossy comment that: Civilization is a clown car. You know. The stretch is elbows and alligators. All else is 3rd world.
For sure. Bangladesh and Red Bull Lost kicks. You soothsayer you!

JPH
just back from an ol' boys' cold night jaunt. New sneakers! Sneaking up on some crisp maple bacon. Hmmm hmmm good!

Comment by Ron Powell on January 11, 2019 at 12:49am

Re the title of this post: Did you mean;

A nonsensical exclamitory used in many cartoons, in many situations. Dextor's Labshows "->poit<-" when Dextor teleports. Another randon cartoon showed ->poit<- when someone got slapped.
    
Or is an edit of the title in order...?
Comment by J.P. Hart on January 11, 2019 at 1:36am

Minds well tune in the student loan bubble...please advise if you've seen a viable reference regarden Green platform, Tom. Wish it were that JMAC-1949 would return to OS. Not only was he usually 'good' for a 'R/L' --- he founded the California Greens --- and his articulateness was real-deal eye candy. Such as that 'on location' with Robert Culp on Catalina Island. Incidentally, Ms. Warren appeared down to earth sippin' that beer lately.

Here's the Electoral College state by state: State Number of Electoral Votes
Alabama 9
Alaska 3
Arizona 11
Arkansas 6
California 55
Colorado 9
Connecticut 7
Delaware 3
District of Columbia 3
Florida 29
Georgia 16
Hawaii 4
Idaho 4
Illinois 20
Indiana 11
Iowa 6
Kansas 6
Kentucky 8
Louisiana 8
Maine 4
Maryland 10
Massachusetts 11
Michigan 16
Minnesota 10
Mississippi 6
Missouri 10
Montana 3
Nebraska 5
Nevada 6
New Hampshire 4
New Jersey 14
New Mexico 5
New York 29
North Carolina 15
North Dakota 3
Ohio 18
Oklahoma 7
Oregon 7
Pennsylvania 20
Rhode Island 4
South Carolina 9
South Dakota 3
Tennessee 11
Texas 38
Utah 6
Vermont 3
Virginia 13
Washington 12
West Virginia 5
Wisconsin 10
Wyoming 3

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 11, 2019 at 7:24am

Tom   I invite you to record this piece (mp3 audio-file) for airing on my 'Passionate Justice' podcast. Let me know, pls.   JW

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 7:50am

JPH Take two aspirin and avoid television at all costs, also two shots of single malt scotch to clear out the cobwebs and cleanse the mental palate – or is that pallet?

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 7:52am

Ron   Poit was certainly not intended, thanks for noticing, and I'll make the correction and give me fingers twenty lashes

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 8:29am

JW  I'd be honored to do so

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 8:34am

JPH  Yes, JMAC is missed and I saw where elsewhere you mentioned Jan Sands, I butted heads with him several times on Our Salon, but I'll give the man his due, he was one of the brightest and most articulate voices on that forum. Then again, there were a lot of such bright and articulate voices on that forum. Ah, the good old days!

As for the Electoral College, you bring up a very sore spot in this putative representative democracy. Why pray tell do the seven states whose population warrants only one Congressperson – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming  – warrant multiple electors?

Take pseudo-state Wyoming – PLEASE! It doesn't have a large enough population (590,00) to warrant even one Congressperson (average Congressperson represents 747,184 people), and yet it has 3 electors. Meanwhile, California, with a population just short of 40 million, has only 55 electors. I did the math, that makes the vote of a Wyoming elector worth 4 times that of a California elector. That helps to explain why we got stuck with Hairball.

On a related note, representative democracy also suffers from the fact that the number of Congresspersons hasn't changed since 1913. It is fixed at 435, despite the U.S. population having more than tripled since then. There are a number of proposals to address this problem – here's an article on the subject that is well worth the read:

https://www.vox.com/2018/6/4/17417452/congress-representation-ratio...

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