Monday, November 01, 2010

The Morning After

On November 3, all the newly-elected and the survivors of the recent political battles must wake up from the parties and realize a sobering fact: the way forward for America is hard. The difficulties have been exacerbated by Obama's policies, but neither he nor one political party are responsible for our current state. Our challenges have been a century in the making, with the last forty years accelerating trends of prior generations.

The new Congress and President must confront
  • Runaway federal expansion and spending - but where will the cuts be made?
  • Stasis in Afghanistan and Iraq - but when do our troops return and who is in power in each nation?
  • A psychologically-scarred electorate who intuitively know that government largess must decrease even while a large percentage depend upon it for their livelihood.
  • How to rebuild our infrastructure.
  • Ways to keep all types of jobs in the USA and still be a competitor in a global economy.
  • A Constitutional re-balancing - more power to the states and the people - but this means more accountability from state capitals and from each person.
  • How to transform a "warfare and welfare" nation into a "workfare" land once again. We cannot have federal guns and butter with ever-increasing deficits forever. We can have a strong defense and trim military spending. We can make sure the needy get help - and do it more efficiently and kindly.
  • Allowing some states to go bankrupt and restructure - strong but necessary medicine.

The above list is a partial one and represents the easiest issues. The real challenges are much deeper and will require courage, deft communication and integrity beyond the norm. Here is another list that unveils the full picture. Our class of 2011 must call for

  • A new era of moral and spiritual responsibility. Fathers need to father. Mothers need to mother. Parents need to send their children to school ready to learn. Even the working poor can put a bowl of oatmeal in a child's stomach, wash behind the ears and give her or him a hug.
  • Local responsibility for welfare. Those who need help of all kinds need to receive it, but with personal care and efficient administration. We DO need basic guidelines from Washington; however, care needs to be as local as possible. The goal of welfare is not jobs for middle-class government workers - it is helping those in need.
  • An end to racism once and for all. Pride in heritage and identity is good, but the politics of anger and bitterness only fuel tensions. Red and Yellow, Black and White - we are all precious in God's sight. If this is true, we need to hear more about love than about "hate" crimes. All crime is wrong, regardless of perceived ethnic issues.
  • A new way forward on private and public morality. It is nonsense to say, "You cannot legislate morality." All legislation IS moral - we pass laws and ordinances that reflect principles and values we affirm as part of our social compact. It is possible to protect traditional marriage and give alternative family arrangements legal status. It is possible to allow private adult activity while not forcing public schools students to be subject to radical ideologies.
  • Citizenship must mean something again. Why do my friends from Europe face years of hassle and thousands in lawyer fees to procure legal status while millions of "undocumented" workers await some form of amnesty and brazenly set up consular offices in public schools? We need to welcome everyone - legally. We need to confront Mexico for her corruption and subversion. We need to confront our addictions and greed.
  • Israel must be protected from her enemies while a new peace treaty with a peaceful Palestine is negotiated. Iran must be confronted and not allowed to go nuclear under her current regime.
  • American "exceptionalism" must be reaffirmed, without arrogance or obeisance to foreign leaders. Our exceptionalism is found in our Constitutional principles - and in our continual self-corrections to live up to them! We must not be proud of our colonial and imperial history. But we can take pride in our heritage of religious freedom, economic opportunity and gradual alignment with the Founder's vision. We must not try to reify some halcyon days that never were. However, we can learn from the sacrifices of generations who laid the foundation for unprecedented prosperity and opportunity.

The morning after...will the new leaders actually arrest spending and make the tough decisions? Will President Obama learn how to compromise? Will "we the people" decide to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and stop calling on the mysterious "someone" to "do something"?

Positive change is possible, but only with a new "great and general awakening" of faith hope and love. In the end, the future begins with our own decisions today.