Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My wish list for America

I spend a lot of time writing about what I see is wrong with America, but I don’t often go into what I would do to fix things if given a magic wand. So here is my wish list of things I would do to turn this country around and set it on the right path. Is it a practical or realistic list? No. It’s wishful thinking. Shazaam.

1. Campaign finance reform

This is my top priority. We will never have a functioning government responsible to the wishes of the people if the one percent and corporations can essentially buy candidates for office. I would be in favor of getting all public money out of political campaigns, but that seems like a pipe dream. We can get Citizens United overturned and close the many loopholes that allow the wealthy to funnel money to candidates or to media campaigns that obviously help one candidate over another. We should also be able to figure out ways to level the playing field so that we are not being governed primarily by multi-millionaires who have little understanding of the needs of the average American. I also think the federal government should step in to stop states from gerrymandering districts at the whim of whoever has the votes to do it. This practice also skews and twists the will of the people. Instead of making it more difficult for people to vote, we should be doing everything we can to get voters to the polls. Let’s hold elections on Saturdays or give America a day off to vote. Finally, if we don’t start here, none of the other fixes we need as a nation will ever become reality.

2. Stop giving corporate lobbyists and Wall Street undue influence on economic policy

The influence of corporate lobbyists and Wall Street on the economy has led to disaster after disaster, and currently stagnation, and we need to do whatever it takes to curb their control on economic policy. For decades now, policies have been adopted that benefit America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations at the expense of average citizens. The result is gross income inequality and a tiny percentage of the population controlling the majority of this country’s wealth. Even though “trickle down” economics has been thoroughly debunked, it feels as if the government is still operating on the assumption that helping the wealthiest will benefit everyone else. There are economists who have offered alternative approaches to boosting the economy, but their voices are marginalized or drowned out by “free market” fanatics. It’s time we started listening to them.

3. We must take back our government from the Deep State

We the people have lost control of our government to a small cadre of leaders in the military, NSA, CIA and the C suites of our larger corporations who are not held accountable by elections and apparently do not feel bound by the Constitution. They are keepers of the secrets and, I believe, leverage their knowledge to influence Congress and the President. The Deep State that Eisenhower warned us about didn’t originate with George Bush, but he and Cheney and a timid Congress gave it vast new powers after 9/11 and it is now a behemoth operating just beneath the surface gathering data on every American, regardless of whether you are suspected of a crime or not. We need to dismantle the security monster created under the Bush Administration. The dilemma is that once given this great power, it isn’t very realistic to think a person will willingly give up that power and influence. It is going to need to be wrested away from them, and that will require a very strong President and the support of Congress. Obviously, this will not happen anytime soon.

4. Take immediate action on climate change

The longer we wait to do this, the worse the damage will be worldwide. Once again, the influence of corporate interests is stalling action on this important issue. There is virtually no debate in the scientific community about the fact that climate change is real and that human activity is the cause. The only challenge to this is coming from ideological extremists and corporations that spend money to keep stirring the pot and make it seem as if there is controversy. By not taking action now we are condemning future generations to lives of misery and uncertainty as the seas rise and the weather becomes more violent and unpredictable. Millions and millions of people living along the world’s coastlines will eventually be uprooted, forcing them to find new places to live and putting them into conflict with established populations for scarce food and water.

5. Gun control

This is one of the most difficult yet most needed reforms on the list. Every week there is a new mass shooting somewhere in America. It is simply too easy for deranged, angry, violent, psychotic individuals to get their hands on firearms. No other country on earth allows this kind of madness. We need to have the courage to pass serious gun control legislation that will help stem the violence we have unfortunately come to take for granted.

6. Decriminalize drug use (yes, all drugs)

7. Universal healthcare

8. Net neutrality

9. Term limits for Supreme Court judges

10. Government inspired national push for practical alternative clean energy sources that will help us become energy independent

11. A revitalization of public education

12. Affordable higher education

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