Sometimes you have to thing big and act accordingly. What the country needs is bold moves right now, from the economy to education, health care, and even what we do in everyday life. We come from the past and certainly we want to maintain a continuity but not at the expense of having a better life in the future. We should also be open to reality and spend some time learning about the important issues, because many policies will be implemented in our name. All this assumes that people are mature enough to re-examine certain myths that sustained our politics & policies in the last several decades.
We've already taken some bold steps with the election of Barack Obama. Some bank checks are written for hundreds of billions of dollars--and they're not issued only by Wall Street as bonuses to its executives. Our government is writing big checks right now and we are being charged that amount. At last count, the national debt exceeded $11 trillion. This has to be paid back but how it's done will depend on what we do today and how we use all this money. It's about time we became smarter as a nation and how we behave politically--which involved lots more than voting every couple years. But, how does one become smart?
It starts with the family that imbues children with proper attitude and good habits. We have to examine the conditions that make a family stable. There are some actions individuals can make while the government provides access to information, proper nutrition & health care, and better education. Spend in advance so we can save money later. Crime costs this country a pretty penny, and the cost isn't just what we spend on more police, courts, prisons & housing of inmates.
Information--accurate and informative--is power. Access to the Internet is a necessity today and every citizen should have it. Researching, learning, exercising one's civic duty & rights, keeping an eye on our elected officials, finding a (better) job can all be done via the cyberspace. Faux News can still exist (so we can always point to an example of stupidity, prejudice and intellectual blindness), but we have to maintain those media that inform and pursue the evidence no matter where it leads. Funding (private & public) for PBS, NPR and your local non-for-profit media is necessary. Democracy cannot exist without free media, but free media doesn't necessarily mean good information.
Speaking of evidence, we have to make sure that the scientific way wins over superstition and ignorance. There's a strong correlation between science and democracy and this will become even more prescient in the 21st century. Science embodies the notion of inquiry, increasing knowledge & finding new stuff, while amending beliefs is a welcomed outcome if better evidence is found. Intellectual pursuits are good, despite the official mantra of the last 8 years of Bush & Co--which includes much of his conservative base. The anti-science stance must end right away; it hurts the country and harms the individual. We've become a great country partly because we embraced science, and despiteour population being one of the most ignorant among industrialized nations.
Universal health care is way overdue. We can have it, we can afford it--providing we reform the present system--and it has been tried with success elsewhere. This is a huge topic by itself and I will return to it, but I find unconscionable that so many people die due to lack of health care and/or appropriate insurance. [see sidebar, American Cancer Society's way of reducing cancer deaths by 50%!] If one of the goals of government is to protect, then providing decent health care is it! Terrorists kill far fewer Americans than other preventable causes. It's only a matter of priorities.
All the talk these days is the economy. How did we get to this? Short memory syndrome is one cause. We forgot that the banking system & Wall Street cannot self-regulate! The Republicans helped erase our memories of the Great Depression and perpetuated harmful myths while creating huge gaps of wealth in our society. Sadly, many voters have supported policies against their own interests. But, hey, the GOP gave those people what they wanted: the 3 Gs (God-gays-guns). Now they say tax breaks are what's need. Trickle down riches, and tides that lift all boats are crackpot folklore.
There's a window of opportunity to revamp many of our own myths, past practices, and show that a new approach can be a winning strategy for most of us. The government has an important role to play--that's why often it's not necessarily the size (the stone of contention between cons and libs) but whom we put there! Give me the best (whatever size) organization and put the wrong person in decision-making position, and I can guarantee you failure. We've done this for far too long. The Wall Street geniuses believed their own delusions and became arrogant. They formed close-knit groups and served on each other's boards, giving themselves huge pay packages & bonuses. While we privitized profit, we socialized the risk. The taxpayers are bailing them out because they became too big & too entrenched in the wallets of most Americans to fail.
There is some good news in this mess. The Republicans have become a regionally-based party which is shrinking. They still hold the illusion that it was Bush or McCain (strangely, not Sarah Palin--judging from her popularity in the GOP) that failed the ideology. Their strategy is to "just say NO!" and hope that Obama fails, that new scandals will wash away the Republican sins of the last 12 years, so the GOP will return to power. Wishful thinking? We'll see.
I do hope no Republican senator votes for Obama's economic plan. Like their counterparts in the House did--not a single Republican voted for it. And, I hope they elevate Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Sean Hanity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, and all such wingnuts to official spokesmen for the GOP. This party should either modernize or be relegated to the dustbin of history. Thus far it hasn't shown any inclination to progress. It hasn't realized that from a majority party, controlling the White House, and both chambers of Congress, it has become a small minority!
It's time we think big. All small-minded people please step aside and take your ignorance, prejudice, and myths with you.