“Speaking truth to power.”
A favorite phrase of all protesters.
Dear agitators of all ideologies:
Anger and clichés will not promote a flourishing society.
We need to give up two fantasies: a neo-1950s Americanism (the “good old days”) and socialist utopias (“Marx just hasn’t been applied properly”)
If we aspire for a just society, consider the following…
Truth: Our cities are overwhelmed with infrastructure, pension and welfare obligations and anti-enterprise policies.
Power: decades of political corruption must be overcome.
Truth: Racism still permeates much of our society.
Power: We must face both individual iniquity and institutional injustice. The former must be confronted within particular communities; the latter is the work of the privileged.
Truth: Religious women and men of all faiths that believe in heterosexual monogamy and celibacy for singles are not homophobes, bigots or haters, just trying to live their deepest convictions.
Power: all alternative advocates need to examine their own intolerance.
Truth: We can do better on healthcare, ensuring compassionate and effective services.
Power: Ethics/Standards need to be universal; administration must be local.
Truth: Environmental stewardship and scientific innovation ensure resources for improving economies.
Power: Neither UN symbols or massive deregulation lead us forward – only wise private-public cooperation based on honest data and hope, not propaganda and fear will offer a future.
Truth: Immigration reform is stymied by business and political powers that want cheap labor and subversion of citizenship boundaries.
Power: Hospitable and just policies within Constitutional boundaries can be forged with courage and love.
Dear millions of friends of conscience:
Let’s not only speak, but act. Protesting is easy. Actual change is hard.
One new friendship across the divides, one new act of compassion, one new business providing local jobs, one new church reaching out…let’s begin.
Endless federal deficits. Porous borders and immigration chaos. Selective enforcement of oversight laws and regulations in the EPA and IRS. Health care for all that includes 2400+ exemptions, including government employees. A foreign policy without direction. Serious scandals dismissed as phony and a media that is rarely investigating those currently in power.
These and other problems are not five years in the making, though the current Administration has done little to resolve and much to exacerbate this state of affairs. Our current crises are a century in the making, beginning with some of the unintended consequences of the Roosevelt Administration in the first decade of the 1900s, continuing through the elitism of the Wilson years, accelerated by the policies of FDR and codified by LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s. Neither Democratic or Republican leaders have been able to reverse the trends that are presently carrying our American experiment toward oblivion.
The fundamental issue for over a century is the disempowerment of individuals and local government by the Leviathan of ever-increasing federal power. It is important to note that this essay is not a nostalgic foray into a mythical past. We need federal agencies for everything from protecting civil rights to decent food and a clean environment. The ethical and social oversight that ensures freedom and opportunity is a vital part of the original intention of the founders. What was never in their minds and must be altered in ours was the federal administration of so much public money! The corruption, bad stewardship and inefficiencies of federal power hinder the good intentions of most citizens that want compassion, safety and reasonable public services.
We must begin a reversal today and re-empower local and state governments and restore the dignity of personal virtue as the critical foundation for liberty. This will not happen overnight and will call upon every moral and spiritual resource we possess. We can begin by taking ownership of our decisions and votes and calling upon public servants to serve rather than be enriched at our expense. We must not allow collectivist or libertarian extremists or social elites to control the public conversations critical to our future.
We can reverse a century of malfeasance in less than a decade if we will find the courage to stop over-promising and under-delivering largess and call upon the better natures our citizens to contribute to the common good through their business and charitable enterprises. We must welcome people of all faiths (or none) into the civil-political discourse and stop pretending that religious values have no place in public life. Coercion of conscience has no place in a free society, but faith convictions are not restricted to the private sphere. Polite and robust debate is good for freedom and we must not permit one political party or religious tradition to impose their will and stifle dissent.
Wealth can be created while caring for the environment and compensating employees fairly. The tax code needs complete transformation – and some folks will need to find other employment. Military readiness and care for veterans are important priorities. Our policies must stop rewarding irresponsible behavior. Our management of the public purse needs an overhaul, releasing some local, state and federal workers to the private sector. Immigration policy requires courage and decriminalizing drugs is a social folly.
All these words are easy to write – and extremely hard to practice because our system discourages disrupting current norms that might displace voters. When enough citizens find courage and their elected officials discover integrity, we can reverse the tides and uncover new wellsprings of potential and prosperity.