“Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.”
“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,- criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, – this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society”–Souls of Black Folks, WEB Dubois (1903).
When America was founded, it was a shining vision made tangible by flawed men. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, declared “All men are created equal” (1776). This Declaration, borne of the highest virtues of European philosophical and political thought, had captured, what seemed, to be the epoch of man’s creativity, by seeking to establish a nation for and of the people. This same Declaration, reflected a damming paradox. Those lofty words, for all their luster, were merely words. The circumstances and experiences of enslaved Africans and their descendants, Native Americans, Irish Immigrants, Pacific Islanders, and early Asian Immigrants, had shown American reluctant to extend and practice her democratic principles. Nevertheless, since her founding, America has been stubbornly forced and unwillingly prodded along the road to actualizing her democratic potential by a committed and courageous few, for the sake of all.
Matters of Importance
Progress, in America, is marked the slow intellectual and spiritual evolution of the status quo. To put the matter another way, progress is the rate in which the majority of white Americans change their minds about old ideas and habits. In this way, the most important issue would be advancing a democratic and equitable America, as well as the destruction of entranced institutional white supremacy, through a renaissance in the American spirit.
This Renaissance in American spirit could be advanced by enlightened members of the legislative branch, who, in passing laws for the common good and of the cultivation of democracy, have a civic responsibility, to develop through the apparatus of law, the interests and wellbeing of the public. As such, the changes I would like to see in government would be best enacted through private citizens first, and secondarily through the legislative apparatus known as Congress.
The Role of Government
The United States Constitution is the source of the letter and spirit of the law. The spirit of the nation can be found explicated in the Preamble, which defines national virtue along the lines of general welfare, secured liberty, justice, and common defense (U.S. Constitution, 1787). To achieve this end, Article 1 (Sections 1-10) of the Constitution charges the legislature—consisting of both the Senate and the House of Representatives—with the responsibility and honor of the construction and enactment of all laws “necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States…” (Section 8, 1781).
The Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate would support reforms in: education, economics, and foreign policy, as these three areas are indispensable to the solvency, sustenance, and defense of any modern nation.
Education- The ideal Candidate would support robust and equitable education reform, committed to developing modern citizens for modern democracy. As such, the candidate would support free, secular humanist education, blending the best of the: classical arts, technology, artisanal and technological trades. The curriculum for a basic and mandatory Civic education program would focus proficiency of the trivium, and developing critical thinking skills. Ideally, basic Civic education, would culminate with students graduating with an Associate’s degree in their concentrations of choice, thereby adding an additional 2-3 years to the current standard academic program. Upon graduation, students would of the choice of serving in the: Military, the Peace Corps, Diplomacy Corps, The National Arts, Civil Service, for a minimum of three years.
Economics- The ideal candidate would support policies and plans to benefit the larger mass of society, seeking to minimize extremes in wealth and income inequality. The ideal candidate would support a regressive tax, with aims of expanding the middle by raising the bottom. In turn, Business and Industry are free to pursue private and public business ventures within the bounds of legal and ethical limits pursuant to maximizing both profit and innovation while minimizing harm to human and environmental resources.
Foreign Policy- The ideal candidate would be committed to positioning America as the world’s foremost Democracy by being an example of a fair and equitable society. The ideal candidate would support a foreign policy program insistent on: human dignity, respect, the pursuit and defense of mutual interests, with all nations. Further, the ideal candidate will respect the State Sovereignty of all nations, acknowledging the right of others to self-govern, while being committed to the defense of human rights.
The issues as identified above is but a pleasant fiction. Other than serving as to incite the mind to imagine a better world, the above is not largely useful in the here-now. Nevertheless, I believe that there are actionable steps that we all can take to make America a more inclusive and equitable society, for like Mithrandir, in The Fellowship of the Lord of the Rings, I too believe that “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love” (Tolkien, J.R.R.), and to this end, wish to impart a few actionable steps to extend, expand, and cultivate humanity and healthy curiosity. Our hope lies in man coming to know more of man, in all of his similitude.
Invite someone to dinner. Ask them over for a cup of coffee, tea or a beer and pick their brain. I think many of our problems can be resolved (or at least better understood) at kitchen or dining room table with good music, food, and a sincere and willing heart.
Learn how to listen, through study and practice. “active-listening” is listening with the intent to understand the speaker’s message, rather than listen to merely respond. Mindtools.com provides a great starting-point for tips on active-listening, check it our here: (https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm).
Learn World History in all of its colors: black, white, red, yellow, green, purple, grey, etc. All culture and history was taught side by side, not hierarchically
Examine the intellectual frameworks that enables, cause, and/or encourages offenses to the human spirit such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, etc. Look for that (or those) “root-cause(s),” affecting matters most important to you. Again, Mindtools.com is a good starting point for learning about root-causes. Check it out here (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_80.htm).
Overtime, historically, the chasm between America’s potential and America’s actuality has narrowed, if only at the beckoning effort of citizens who demand that substance of our society be reflective of its rhetoric, bringing lofty democratic abstractions into the realm of reality. At all points in time, I advocate for encouraging human curiosity and intellectual honesty. A Renaissance of the American Spirit is needed to make our union more perfect. Further, I believe this Renaissance must begin with the common man and woman, and can only be achieved through: dialog and robust education, mutual understanding of historical facts, and the enactment of equitable policies under the law.
“Active Listening.”N.d., Mind.com. https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence 1776, the Constitution of the United
States 1787, the Bill of Rights 1791. Washington, DC, 1952.
Dubois, W E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Simon & Schuster, 2014.
“Root Cause Analysis.” N.d., https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_80.htm