I often consider America’s future and how far apart so many Americans are — whether it is Trump vs. Hillary, GOP vs. Dems, Greens, Libertarians — I thought it important to weigh in with my observations.
We seem to have lost our way. We argue vehemently for Trump or for Hillary. Or some argue Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We talk about “big government,” immigrants, guns and abortions.
When I think of all of the ways we are divided, the phrase that keeps returning to my mind is “focus on outcomes.” And when we do, suddenly we become united again.
Consider the following: When we think of America’s future, we know the world is a rapidly changing, competitive and volatile place. If we want a strong America, one outcome we need is to make sure our education system is among the best in the world. We know how to accomplish this — smaller class sizes, great teachers, curriculum focused on teaching and inspiring children to want to learn more throughout their lifetime.
When we think of campaign finance, no one I talk to wants candidates that are bought and purchased by the wealthiest Americans. Regardless of one’s political side, we want political integrity as an outcome.
Regardless of how you feel about guns, we should all agree that the outcome we want is to feel safe in our homes or in our travel. And we don’t want terrorists, the mentally ill or criminals to possess weapons and use them against innocent Americans or law enforcement. We don’t want all of the accidental deaths we read about almost daily when a child finds an unlocked gun in the home.
Together, we respect our elders. After a lifetime of work and responsibility, we want to make sure they have the financial resources they need to have a decent lifestyle, with affordable access to health care, housing and transportation.
None of us wants a big government. We want an effective and transparent government that is responsive to us, that provides the common services we need for all of America, Oregon and Lincoln County.
When we turn on our kitchen faucet, every American wants safe, good tasting water for themselves, families, friends and community, not a flammable toxic sludge or water tainted with dangerous chemicals. Similarly, when we breathe our air, we don’t want our lungs to burn and eyes to water, taking in some dangerous pollutants from a nearby plant or refinery. When we buy food, we want food that is fresh, safe and free from dangerous chemicals.
Together we believe in an America where if every person works hard, where they can improve the quality of their own life and family.
We believe there is great beauty in America — our coasts, rivers, valleys, mountains, forests and national parks. It’s part of what makes America a special place, and we believe in preserving and protecting them for future generations of Americans.
Most of us believe in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We accept those fleeing from horrific violence with open arms and without fear.
We may have very different ideas about how to achieve the results we want, and that is what democracy is about. We honor the fact that we can decide these things with our vote, and not with violence. America is not about kings, queens or oligarchs. It is about all of us talking about what our vision of America is and then electing people to represent us in shaping that future, while we stay involved to make sure they do represent our interest and vision.
Let’s stop yelling over each other with political slogans. When we consider and talk about the America we know is possible, we won’t agree upon everything. However, I think you will find we have far more in common than not. And when we unite together, we can get closer to realizing the American dream for ourselves, families and communities.
Reprinted from Newport News Times, October 26, 2016, Page A9