THE POTENTIAL ENDURES
I, like most of you, who care about the United States of America am not pleased with the state of our nation. My father was an immigrant blue-collar worker. Now gone, he was a member of the generation that built America into a superpower that Tom Brokaw wrote about in his book, The Greatest Generation. Like my father and the millions of other immigrants who sought refuge and settled in America, multitudes still seek our shores for the promise of our country. Many American citizens, living in America and now near destitute, seek that same promise. While the promise has faded, the potential endures. It needs to be awakened and once again fulfilled. It can and must be done.
Today, the majority of Americans are deeply united in one sad and profound respect: the belief that our government is dysfunctional and our country has been on the wrong track for too long. We are alarmed at our inability to find solutions amicably, ever rising national debt, painful levels of unemployment, and closely related widespread suffering.
While our debt related issues are a cause for great concern, our attention instead should be riveted on the profound, insidious, and avoidable causes of our financial crises. Otherwise, even if the unavoidably painful corrections are made, the forces – still in place – responsible for our pain and suffering will do it again. As always, those who can afford it the least will suffer the most.
The cause of our debt crises and a multitude of related problems is the systemic corruption of the United States government as a result of years of escalating collusion between high-level bipartisan political and financial powers. Let’s not pull any punches: it’s all about money and the power to acquire and accumulate more money, obscene amounts of money.
The financial crises we face, rooted in massive banking fraud, have resulted in grotesque economic inequalities. About 400 U.S. citizens control more wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. The average middle-class family has seen its income deteriorate for many years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise dramatically. The average CEO’s compensation since 1970 has increased by 400% while the average worker’s wage has declined by 9%. Something is very wrong.
Our free enterprise system and government have been undermined. The banks and other influence-seeking industries funnel enormous amounts of money to Congress, presidents, and the Washington establishment of aides and advisers. This is done through generous campaign contributions, lavish speaker fees, and boardroom appointments upon retirement. It is done through massive amounts of money spent for lobbying. It is done through promises of future lucrative lobbying positions and other high paying jobs to elected officials when they leave office. There is only one word to describe this activity: corruption.
With all of this as a backdrop, how can any government insure justice and provide for the common good? The answer is that it can’t. To think otherwise is delusional. Money and politics do not mix. This toxic brew is destroying our nation and everything for which it was created and for which it stands.
While we recognize that capitalism is the most efficient way to maximize prosperity, we have learned from history that in its quest for short-term profits, unchecked, it will undermine our system of government, exploit our workers, destroy our environment, and increase income disparity to the point that we are engulfed in the kinds of crises in which we find ourselves today.
The direction of our nation is not aligned with that intended by our Founding Fathers who revolted against the tyranny of royal rule to create an honorable system of self-government. Their aims, evident in the Preamble to our constitution, were to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” A strong and representative form of government was established to achieve these goals by striking a critical balance between opportunities for individual prosperity and the integrity and maintenance of the common good.
The present state of our union is far from the one envisioned. In the United States, for the last three decades, the cozy relationships between our national government and our financial industry have set us on a course opposite to that intended by our Founders. We have succumbed to a modern form of royal rule.
Our entirely avoidable economic demise and closely related suffering is tracked easily. In 1980, high level government policy makers in concert with financial industry leaders began a long period of systematic dismantling of our financial regulations. This high-level political and financial industry self-serving and thinly disguised corruption laid the foundation for the financial catastrophes that followed. Over time, this scheming led incrementally to an unprecedented institutionalized Ponzi scheme that dwarfed all Ponzi schemes ever conceived. It would bring the entire world to the brink of financial collapse.
The first major signal of the consequences of financial deregulation was the colossal Savings and Loan industry crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.The bailout for this debacle resulted in a $124 billion net loss to American tax payers. This financial industry crisis proved to be only a harbinger of the much more severe financial crises that would come. The perfect financial disaster storm was beginning to form.
The internet stock bubble (dot-com bubble) burst on March 10, 2000. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fined top investment firms like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch millions of dollars for misleading investors who lost trillions of dollars.
George W. Bush took office in January 2001. In the 2000s, financial deregulation accelerated under the Bush administration. Imprudent and unnecessary “temporary” tax cuts, with 2010 sunset provisions that never occurred, were enacted in 2001 and 2003 to the largest benefit by far to higher income households. This crippled tax revenues severely and further increased already high levels of income inequality. The tax cuts alone added nearly $1.3 trillion to the federal budget deficit through 2010.
The unfunded wars begun in 2001 in Afghanistan and 2003 in Iraq, plus U.S. expenses for armed conflict in Pakistan, cost and continue to cost the U.S. billions of dollars monthly. According to the research project “Costs of War” (www.costsofwar.org), by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, the war bills total $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion through 2011. The final bill through 2020 will be $3.7 to $4.4 trillion. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study.
It is beyond inconceivable that no funds were budgeted and raised for these wars. There was no call, as there should have been if these wars were justified, for shared sacrifice. At the same time that these enormously costly wars were being fought, Bush’s tax cuts dramatically reduced tax revenues. What kind of leaders make decisions that so violate fundamental common sense and elementary financial planning?
Bush enacted the unfunded Medicare drug benefit in 2003, which critics derided as a giveaway to drug makers and insurance companies. It had no dedicated financing, no offsets, and no revenue-raisers. 100% of the cost was simply added to the federal budget deficit. This occurred when the Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history: $475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review.
Costs skyrocketed. Tax revenues plunged. Debt climbed rapidly and precipitously. It was a disastrous equation. Our projected national financial surplus was decimated. It was replaced with ominous and accelerating debts. Bush inherited a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, which he transformed rapidly into a projected deficit of more than $4 trillion.
During this period, Washington’s cozy relationship with Wall Street intensified. At the same time that disastrous policy decisions were being made by our government, the major players in the increasingly deregulated financial industry gave birth to an ominous scheme, the last piece of the perfect storm.
Predatory lending in the form of sub-prime mortgage loans destined for default became rampant and widespread. Investment banks, financial conglomerates, and insurance and rating agencies bundled mortgages of dubious value into Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Credit agencies, richly rewarded, gave undeserved highest AAA ratings to these CDOs which were sold to unwary investors. The stage was set for the financial collapse that would take down the automobile, housing, and construction industries and a multitude of related businesses and result in extensive and widespread unemployment.
In 2007, the U.S. housing bubble burst and the subprime mortgage industry collapsed. In November 2007, the United States Great Recession began. Triggered by a liquidity shortfall in the U.S. banking system in 2008, the Global Financial Crisis, considered the worst since the 1930s Great Depression, followed. Large financial institutions collapsed. Key businesses, facing imminent bankruptcy and liquidation, failed or were rescued by government (taxpayer-funded) bailouts. The housing market crumbled as evictions and foreclosures skyrocketed. Trillions of dollars of consumer wealth evaporated.
In response to the subprime mortgage crisis, The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was enacted on October 3, 2008. It authorized the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to make capital injections up to $700 billion into banks to prevent a global financial meltdown. President Bush signed the bill into law and created the $700 billion taxpayer financed Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out Wall Street investment banks. Hundreds of billions were provided to companies who had bet against the common good, which has been described as a form of economic terrorism.
The numerous financial crises led to a global recession that affected the entire world economy. In the U.S., persistent high employment remains unabated. Consumer confidence is abysmal. Home values largely continue their descent. Foreclosures and personal bankruptcies grow as does the relentless federal debt. This is the train wreck that George W. Bush left for his successor, Barack Obama, to sort out.
While tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs, homes, and hope, the fortunes of the richly rewarded financial industry executives remained intact. Bonuses, many at truly obscene levels, continued uninterrupted. Predatory lenders and crooked mortgage bankers walked away from the crisis with millions in ill-gotten gains.
All of this was avoidable. The origins of the economic crisis of 2008 are rooted in disastrous long term U.S. government monetary policies and deplorable private financial institution practices. More specifically, it was triggered finally by high risk complex financial products – mortgage backed securities – sugar-coated by rating agencies to appear secure, the absence of regulation due to the collusion of government and financial industry leaders, and the failure of regulators to recognize and correct the emerging crisis which was resplendent with red flags.
These crises were the result of the failure of leadership at the highest levels of government and business (the financial industry in particular). Decision making was short-term, primitive, and immoral. Those responsible knew better or should have known better given their education and positions. In their quests for power and wealth, they forgot or were deep in denial of historical financial lessons. Self-absorbed, they acted on base self-serving instincts. Far more grave and unforgiveable, they lost sight of the vision of those who founded, fought, and gave their lives for the United States of America. As a consequence, many suffered and continue to suffer needlessly. The “general Welfare” was violated. The country is off track. This is unacceptable.
Giving birth to the United States was a perilous undertaking. Life is full of peril. It has always been and always will be full of peril. Everywhere we turn, all life forms struggle to survive and reproduce. As a consequence of that struggle everywhere we see inequity, injustice, violence, and suffering. Most of it is caused by ignorance. How do we reduce ignorance and suffering and expand knowledge and justice? How do we solve our problems?
Einstein observed that we cannot solve our problems from the same level of thinking at which they originated. What level of thinking are we at? What level of thinking do we need to get to? How do we get there? Journalist Edward R. Murrow said, “The obscure we see eventually. The completely apparent takes a little longer.”
The situation in the United States is transparent, not obscure. What needs to be done is completely apparent. There is nothing difficult to understand about the mandate “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Absent conspicuously from these guidelines is a desire for the concentration of wealth and power, widespread inequality, a stratification of society, and a return to royal rule. Instead, the clear intent for the United States is for shared prosperity among its citizens.
In lieu of shared prosperity, too many Americans have lost their jobs, homes, and financial security. They are scared, anxious, and insecure. A majority of Americans are dismayed at the direction of their country. They want solutions. More than that, they want a rebirth, an American renewal and restoration. It’s overdue.
Many pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle have raised all the usual and obvious issues and priorities: get our economic house in order; control debt and entitlements; reduce unemployment; stop foreclosures; reverse staggering inequities; invest in infrastructure; simplify the tax code; establish energy security; trim military spending; address climate change; protect social programs; tighten financial regulations; invest in skills and technology; resolve immigration issues; encourage innovators and entrepreneurs; incentivize new businesses; support scientific research and advancement; encourage saving and investment; curb the growth of entitlement programs; provide a basic safety net; and more. If you follow the game, you’ve heard or read it all before.
Why haven’t our leaders accomplish these tasks? That is their responsibility. That is why they are elected, paid, and pensioned. These are not terribly complex issues. It’s truly not rocket science, as the saying goes. Many solutions abound from expert and diverse sources. The problem is not with the difficulty of the issues, the difficulty lies in intransigent partisans. Too many think that only their watch tells the right time. It’s the arrogance and utter failure of rigid ideology. It’s the ignorance of partisan politics and partisan politicians.
Rigid ideology is one of eight structural, systemic, or procedural problems that plague our country, have decimated our decision making process, and thereby our democratic form of government. Our process is defunct. The combined impacts of our modern self-created obstacles have distanced us from that which was envisioned for America. If the source is polluted, the stream cannot be pure. Our source and our stream are polluted. The issues below are long overdue for common-sense solutions if we are again to have a government of, by, and for the people that nurtures shared responsibility and shared prosperity.
1. Get the Founder’s Vision Back
Our forefathers, at the gravest personal risks, established the extraordinary form of government that we have inherited. It is a process that emanated from humankind’s natural instinct to be free and evolve – an irrepressible force. The ideals of democracy are the ideals of humanity. Out of the freedom afforded by that foundation grew a strong and prosperous nation.
Rather than respect the integrity of our democratic process, we have drifted away from it and damaged its potential. We have eroded that which has given us our strength.
We have forgotten – if we were ever aware of – the vision of shared prosperity and how to achieve it. Those lawmakers who don’t understand this live in the wrong country and have no business being involved in making laws.
Our form of government, democracy, is one in which political power resides in all the people. As described by Abraham Lincoln, it’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” not government of some people, by some people, for some people. It recognizes the value of widespread participation, broad-based input, and shared opportunity. It invites the richness of diversity.
Democracy implies responsibility. Those who benefit from its opportunities must share in the protection of its integrity. Democracy implies concern for others. It is within the mystery of giving that the human spirit is set free to soar to its highest levels. Democracy represents an appreciation for life, a celebration of diversity, an acceptance of oneself, a rekindling of the human spirit, and the road to peace, freedom, and security.
Democracy says, “Do not look only to yourself and like-minded for answers, rather avail yourself of that which others have to offer, for life is diverse.” Democracy says, “Do not be rigid or inflexible, be open and adaptable for life is dynamic and alive.” Democracy says, “Do not compete with each other, cooperate for life presents challenges enough.” Democracy says, “Do not make participation exclusive, make participation inclusive, for life is all-encompassing.” Democracy says, “Do not gravitate toward extremes, seek moderation for life requires balance.” Democracy says, “Do not represent only those who have influence, represent all for life demands equality.” Finally, Democracy says, “Do not tamper with this process for it is your lifeblood.”
SOLUTION: Restore America’s vision. Leaders wanted.
2. Get the American People Involved
It is time that we people of the United States understand that we are this country. We are the building blocks. We are the institutions. When we complain about our government, we complain about ourselves. We are responsible for the state of affairs that exists. The quality of our government is that which we have allowed and continue to allow.
We are not prisoners of today’s reality. We are all potential change agents. We are free and challenged to restore and renew our country. Our Information Age enables us to be better informed, connect with others, educate greater numbers, increase participation, and decentralize power. It is a rising force in a time of decline. With the means we have available, our ability to organize and bring about change is powerful. For us to protest without participation is meaningless.
Empowered by our alarm for what our country has become, the financial corruption of our government, the disdain for the common good, our disgust with the mentality that produced it, and our desire for change, we need now, each of us, to act in whatever way in which we are capable. Your participation is essential. Our predicament has resulted from too little attention to what is going on.
Seek others who share your concerns. Many people everywhere desire systemic change. A roar ready to erupt waits on the other side of silence. The transformation needed will not come from our compromised and entrenched electorate. It must percolate upwards from an informed and enlightened public.
Speak of principles, values, and the vision outlined clearly by our founders. Insist upon long overdue transformation and renewal. It’s late in the game. We are losing. We need to turn it around. As John F. Kennedy said, “…the energy, the faith and devotion that we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
SOLUTION: Americans Elect has created the first nonpartisan presidential nomination in U.S. history. www.AmericansElect.org
3. Get Rigid Partisans Out of Politics and the Media
We have so forsaken coalitions in favor of partisanship that we have rendered ourselves ineffective. We have become so enamored with our personal thoughts, beliefs, and conclusions that we have stopped listening to those of others. We talk past each other. We have become so hostile to each other that we have demolished our political process, are unable to form coalitions for the common good, paralyzed our institutions, and eroded our social fabric.
We embrace and support a so-called issue resolving process that has at its foundation hostile parties opposing each other as enemies. We have created an atmosphere of constant turmoil out of which constructive efforts are frustrated in the short term and doomed in the long. This is the climate in which we attempt to find solutions. Can there be any wonder why we meet with so little success?
Much of the paralysis regarding problem solving stems from excessive division along ideological lines, juvenile bickering, and the failure to discuss long-term mutual interests. There will always be conservatives and progressives. It’s a fact of life, an evolutionary phenomenon, as predictable and constant as gravity. It is crucial to stop wasting precious time, resources, and money in an attempt to demonize, destroy and eliminate the other side. It’s not going to happen. Learn to honor what is best in both sides. The best solutions are developed by the creative synthesis of a number of views into a wholly new perspective.
During his presidency, Thomas Jefferson wrote of his faith in the time when humankind in its steady upward progress would transcend its present limitations, “and enter into a larger and more inclusive human fellowship.” Instead, we have regressed. Today, we have stubborn factions that place their ideology not only above that of the opposition party but above the country. That must end now and not only for politicians. It must end for partisan media that exploits fear and partisanship with inflammatory rhetoric and biased spin for shock value and rating points. Media needs to return to a standard of professionalism that honors integrity, neutrality, and civility.
SOLUTION: Elect moderates who understand compromise.
4. Get Money Out of Politics
Our political process is hopelessly mired in and unequivocally incapacitated by the massive and continuous infusion of private sector self-serving influence money. It is impossible for the common good to be served when members of Congress are bankrolled by and beholden to people dependent upon and attempting to influence legislation. At best, it’s an unworkable equation. At worst, it’s criminal.
This influence peddling scheme has destroyed the underpinnings of democracy. Why do we accept as legitimate this institutional corruption? Not only is it wrong in principle but, in the end, taxpayers pay in one way or another for special interest legislation that does not serve the common good or America’s core values. It’s wrong and must end. Democracy can flourish only when office holders work free of fear or favor. This is grade-school common sense.
Common Cause (www.commoncause.org), a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970, dedicated to the restoration of America’s core values, has long advocated for campaign finance reform. They concur that special interests and wealthy donors have enormous influence in Washington and support a citizen-funded “Fair Elections” system. Qualified candidates who take no contributions larger than $100 can run for Congress on a blend of small donations and public funds.
The Fair Elections Now Act, supported strongly by the American people, would:
- Reduce the influence of big donors over federal elections, the main driver of pay-to-play politics in Washington;
- Enhance the power of small donors; and
- Offer a voluntary campaign finance system that both incumbents and challengers will find attractive.
Common Cause’s message is clear and on the mark, “To truly change Washington, we must attack pay-to-play politics at its core and get this legislation passed and signed into law. Constant fundraising by members of Congress dominates their schedules and rots the political process.”
SOLUTION: Support campaign finance reform (The Fair Elections Now Act).
5. Get Career Politicians Out of Office
Why does a person run for public office? What is it that they seek? What are their qualifications? How long should they remain in office? Are they well informed and seek to serve the common good? Or, from a narrow perspective, do they seek never ending power to advance an ideological agenda and reward themselves and their benefactors?
A person needs to be educated and experienced in our complex world to understand it and take independent action without fear of reprisals from ideologues and financial supporters. It’s the next generation not the next election cycle that must dictate the right course of action. One cannot know life if the majority of one’s life is spent in government.
Educated, experienced, and term-limited citizen legislators, not career politicians, are needed. The myth that professional legislatures are necessary to address today’s complexities is exposed by the disastrous results they have wrought. It is these same professionals that too often defer the most difficult decisions to special commissions and other non-elected parties rather than be held accountable. This is ludicrous. People elected to do a job need to make hard decisions and accept the fallout.
Those who lead Congress and committees often are so encamped and cloistered in office, corruption, and entitlement that they have lost touch with the country they serve. There needs to be term limits to increase turnover of office holders, achieve more competitive elections, introduce fresh perspectives, and involve only those who wish to serve and go home to resume their lives.
Both Jefferson and George Mason advised limits on reelection to the Senate and to the Presidency, because, said Mason, “nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation.” Today, Congressional term limits enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support.
At present there are joint resolutions, in both the Senate and the House, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate. These resolutions have been referred to Senate and House committees. Term limits would require a constitutional amendment with approval of a two-thirds majority in Congress.
Renewed consideration must be given to limit the presidency to one six-year term. The president cannot serve consecutive terms but can run for re-election after being out of office. This has been debated for years but needs to be reviewed in light of modern day realities. One wonders reasonably how our president can fulfill his complicated and extraordinary responsibilities while he is running around the country campaigning for re-election and raising funds relentlessly. This is another formula, out of touch with reality, that simply does not compute.
SOLUTION: Support term limits.
6. Get Rid of Gerrymandering
Gerrymandering, the drawing of electoral district lines to the advantage of a political party, is yet another legal form of corruption that undermines the democratic process.
Gerrymandering occurs every ten years after each census. As every district must contain about the same number of voters, changes in population mandate that U.S. House seats be reapportioned. States that gain or lose seats must redraw their congressional districts. The party that controls the state legislature redistricts their state into the appropriate number of congressional districts.
The redistricting is done behind closed doors. Legislators and political consultants make the decisions. It’s obviously in the best interest of the party in power to redistrict their state so that their party will have more seats in the House than their opposition. The winners of elections are increasingly determined by who is drawing the districts rather than the preferences of the voters.
Partisan methods of redistricting have allowed legislators to craft incumbent-protected districts that are safe from competition. Gerrymandering can be very precise with the use of computers, internet access to demographic data from the census, voter data bases, and new user-friendly redistricting software. With this information, political parties obtain very accurate information and voting behaviors and thereby design self-serving congressional district boundaries.
In effect, legislators choose their voters before voters have the opportunity to choose them. It virtually ensures reelection. The effect of gerrymandering is that elections become less competitive in all districts. Incumbents are far more likely to be reelected under conditions of gerrymandering. A threat to fair and competitive elections, gerrymandering is another example of American politics at its worst.
Many countries have enacted laws to end gerrymandering. The most commonly advocated electoral reform proposal is to change the redistricting process. Under these proposals, an independent and objective commission is created for redistricting, rather than having the legislature do it. The UK, Australia, Canada and most European countries have transferred responsibility for defining constituency boundaries to neutral or cross-party bodies. In the United States such reforms are controversial and meet strong opposition from groups that benefit from gerrymandering.
SOLUTION: Outlaw gerrymandering.
Americans for Redistricting Reform http://americansforredistrictingreform.org/
End Gerrymandering.com http://www.endgerrymandering.com/
7. Get Religion Out of Politics
Religion and politics are both highly volatile and divisive. As a graduate of Harvard Divinity School (MDiv, ’93), I’ve had a close look at religion. As a nominee for the U.S. congress (15th district, PA, 1986) and the U.S. presidency (1992 Democratic Party national convention, NYC), among other rich political experiences, I’ve had a close look at politics. It is without hesitation that I know religion and politics need to be kept apart.
Some argue rightly that religions historically have provided an ethos of community service and teachings that emphasize aid to the poor and ill. The flip side is that religion allied itself with political power. Theocracies worked hand in glove with monarchies. Prophecy and revelation were engineered to maintain tyrants in power over an ignorant and superstitious populace. The result has been to concentrate and maintain wealth and power in the hands of the few.
Religion, with fallacious authority, often provides noble-sounding excuses for warfare. History shows there is no end to what people ginned up on their particular form of self-righteousness have done and will do.
The marriage of politics and religion is the dated mentality of monarchies (hereditary leadership) and religious control. The United States was founded precisely to get away from this kind of political and religious domination. American historian Clinton Rossiter wrote, “The twin doctrines of separation of church and state and liberty of individual conscience are the marrow of our democracy, if not indeed America’s most magnificent contribution to the freeing of Western man.”
Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and most of the founding fathers were skeptics or Deists; they specifically intended a secular government with an unbreachable wall between church and state. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1863, wrote, “We began with freedom. America was opened after the feudal mischief was spent. No inquisitions here, no kings, no nobles, no dominant church.”
SOLUTION: Insist upon the separation of church and state.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State www.au.org
8. Get Partisan Politics Out of the State of the Union Address
The U.S. President delivers annually a State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress and our nation. A spokesperson from the opposition party follows with his or her party’s version of the state of the union. Both addresses are highly partisan and self-serving.
People in office with partisan agendas should not grade themselves. A neutral committee of scholars should provide the country with an objective and accurate assessment of the state of the union. This extremely important report, The State of the Union, must be void of politics.
SOLUTION: Have a neutral committee of scholars assess and report on the state of the union.
We live at a time that cries out for a renaissance in both spirit and direction. A critical mass of people today acknowledges the need for transformation and rebirth. The world for which our deeper selves yearn, the original vision of America, can be achieved. We need to remove the obstructions we have placed in our path. We can do this. It requires only our collective decision followed by appropriate action. The welfare of our country, which hangs in the balance, must be above self gain and partisan politics.
We know what doesn’t work. To continue on our present path is a form of insanity. The next election cycle and quarterly profit report, while important, cannot continue to drive our decision making or we are doomed to unavoidable and deserved failure.
Politics need not be adversarial, hostile, and belligerent. Politics need not be about the destruction of one’s perceived opposition whether that is an individual or a nation state. Politics need not be about unilateral actions and unjustified attacks. Politics needs to be a persistent quest for the common ground. We do not have the time, resources, or energy to waste fighting with each other. We have severe and complicated problems that must be addressed urgently in a cooperative and constructive manner.
Business, closely allied with politics, need not be about short-term gain and the maximization of profits. Business need not exploit people or resources to be profitable. Business needs to be about long-term gain, sustainability, and respect for workers and our environment. Business needs to be socially responsible with a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profits. Life is a far more complex phenomenon than a race to see who can accumulate the most in the least amount of time.
Our window of opportunity to make the necessary and monumental changes is small compared to the large obstacles in our current belief systems – political and business – that must be dissolved. We must mobilize and make changes without delay if we are to restore America’s vision and we, and all the other life forms on this jewel of a planet, are to survive.
Each of us exists as a tiny fragment of an immensely larger interlocking whole in which all of the parts are interconnected and dependent upon each other for survival. We exist not separately but in communion with each other. When we understand and act upon this reality in a constructive manner we will succeed and prosper in every way beyond our imagination. The choice is ours as it always has been.
A renaissance is within our reach. We need only to grasp it. With proper decisions and actions, we will arrest and reverse our destructive and unsustainable momentum, end our needless suffering, prosper together, find peace, restore our nation, and advance our civilization. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic to it. Begin it now (Goethe).”
The author: Joe Simonetta is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School (Master of Divinity). He also studied at Yale Divinity School. He holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado and a B.S. in business from Penn State University.
He has been a military officer, professional athlete, entrepreneur and businessman, architect, environmental activist, twice a nominee for the U.S. Congress, a nominee for the U.S. Presidency, and the author of numerous books including Seven Words That Can Change the World (www.SevenWords.org).
Son of an immigrant blue-collar steelworker and his wife, born in a World War II housing project in Bethlehem, PA, Simonetta was raised in the shadow of the blast furnaces of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He has since lived for significant amounts of time in Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Greece, New Zealand, and Ecuador. email@example.com