By now, we should all be bored to death with despairing Democrats’ decrying the non-appeal of their “brand.” If they remembered that we were citizens, not consumers, they might bother to develop some ideas and propose to lead us somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps the anti-Trump resistance could tackle the challenge of building a positive vision. “Resist and rebuild” might be the mantra.
The original Independence Day was one of construction. By July 4, work on the Articles of Confederation and state constitutions was already well advanced. Maybe the thing to do is have a competition. Hear ye, hear ye, all Americans, what do you think Democrats should be trying to achieve? Submit your ideas!
I, for one, would love to see somebody stand up on some platform somewhere and say something like the following:
We are better than this, America. Better than this division, disdain and despair. We will chase away the clouds and let the sun shine through. The sun of honor and truth. The sun of freedom, fairness and equality.
We will connect, empower and emancipate Americans.
How? By transforming transportation, housing, criminal justice and health care.
We will get our fiscal house in order — achieving a new social contract across generations to rebalance Social Security and Medicare. With our own resources — and without Saudi infrastructure investments being arranged at the same moment that sales of arms to the kingdom are being hammered out — we’ll rebuild our transportation infrastructure. We’ll reconnect rural America to mobility and break the grip of deadening traffic on the lives of urban and suburban residents. By banishing remoteness, we’ll restore opportunity. With less time in cars, we’ll have more time for neighbors; parents will have more time for kids.
We will tackle the true housing crisis: the high cost of rent and the limited availability of affordable housing in places where there is economic opportunity. While real estate developers get rich on the tax treatment of commercial real estate losses, ordinary Americans keep taking hits. We will address underwater mortgages that continue to trap people in undesirable situations and make moving a threat to one’s retirement. An America on the move is an America empowered, firing up engines of opportunity now stalled out.
We will end the war on drugs, build universal health care and reinvest in education. Criminal justice isn’t the tool for the problem of addiction. Health care is. We can and should fight high-level traffickers, but we should emancipate those who suffer from addiction, by calling on the blessings of medicine. We can and should rally the international community against international trafficking, but we must emancipate young people entrapped as low-level employees in international cartels’ predatory distribution systems. They need pathways out — through education and jobs. And we must emancipate communities of color from mass incarceration’s devastation. We must liberalize our drug laws at last.
The time has also come for universal health care. Where Medicaid has expanded, states are better able to fight opioid addiction. When children go to school healthy, they learn better. As Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense,” argued, everyone needs a starting kit for life. Congress has proved that our health-care system is a mess — too complicated, too byzantine — for any group of 535 honorable women and men to sort out. Let’s make it simple. Forty percent of the nation’s children are already on Medicaid. We can offer Medicaid to all.
With Medicaid for all, we can secure what most of us now recognize as a basic right: routine access to modern medicine. This should be, for all Americans, like access to our highway system. Sure, some will use toll roads for a superior journey. But the road to good health should be open to all. Empowered with a strong foundation of health and education, all Americans will at last have a shot at the American dream.
America is woven of many strands: religious and secular; black, brown and white; male, female; gay, trans and straight; rural and urban. We would recognize it and let it so remain. We will connect, empower and emancipate all Americans, new and old, the sons and daughters of ancestors who have been here for generations, the sons and daughters of those just arrived.
We ask in return that you begin to speak to each other again with civility and decency, whether online or off, and in the expectation of securing goodwill from one another. We didn’t get to be the richest, freest country in the world on a fuel of mutual disdain. What we have we’ve built with the mutual respect that makes working together possible. We ask that all Americans aspire to prove themselves trustworthy to one another, to stand beside each other, and to hope to guide one another generously, in a spirit of equality, upholding justice for all, with the grace of Lady Liberty.
We will also ask Americans to welcome a set number of new immigrants every year and another set number cycling through on work permits. We will bring order to our immigration system. But remember this: Families coming from distant lands seek us out because we are the country of good hope. This is our pride and joy. To see that hope reflected in the faces of newcomers is an honor indeed. By asking for entrance, new immigrants tell us that we have done well. We have built something of value to all humankind.
Connect. Empower. Emancipate. This is what we will do for the American people. This is what we ask you, the American people, to do for yourselves. Connect. Empower. Emancipate.
We will banish the dark. We will again lift the lamp of human dignity.