It is rare that I write about a topic in this blog that is related to a current political topic. With more than two years past, and over 60 essays written, my main purpose in this blog has been to share thoughts and stories that could be thought about as “lessons of leadership and life.” Unfortunately, our current political impasse regarding our debt ceiling, deficit, spending and taxation levels, et al, has lead me to be focused on one idea … we deserve better !
Regardless of political orientation, whether on the right, the left, or the broad “un –named middle” of the American political spectrum, we must remember that we are all first and foremost Americans. Today’s N.Y. Times included an article titled “Working with a new script to stop a train wreck,” stated “Now, partisan and ideological boundaries are powerfully self-reinforcing – a double layered Great Wall of Division, buttressed by fund-raising patterns and gerrymandered House districts.” This can’t be what we aspire for our democracy!
As Americans we have the freedom to travel broadly across the world, and when we travel and enter a foreign county, it is important to remember what our passports DO NOT say. There is no section for Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Independent, Green, or any other possible political party affiliation. There is the simple line that reads,
“Nationality: United States of America”
As Americans, we must remember the tortured political crucible of our beginnings. Somehow in the midst of unbelievable political turmoil, early Americans came together to form a nation and a government, based on a few fundamental principles, still very relevant today.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (U.S. Constitution)
I aspire that today’s political debate be more centered on a few of these ideas. Do the competing proposals help us “establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility,” and “provide for the common defense”? Does inaction on the mounting deficit (again regardless of party) help us “promote the general welfare”? Finally, does political grandstanding and brinksmanship help us as Americans “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,”? We must remember that though the debate is very current, our actions (or inactions) will bear fruit, good or bad, for generations to come.
With all of this said, I am not without hope for our collective, American, future. We have a history of facing great challenges and achieving great things. I continue to be reminded of an inspiring quote from Dr. Martin Luther King jr. that I have commented on in earlier essays:
“I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech)
It is in challenging and frustrating times like today that we must seek the “oughtness” not the “isness” of mankind. We as Americans are not merely the “flotsam and jetsam” of American politics! We need to stay focused on the words of inspirational Americans , whether from the 1780’s or the 1960’s, and expect and demand our elected officials to take action on behalf of all Americans today, and for our posterity to come!