The conventions have come and gone, and we got the same message from both parties: Fear. We define ourselves by what we don’t want, but no one is saying what we do want. What do we want to look like when we get through these current problems? What are our hopes for the future? What do we value and how do we express those values? What type of world do we want to leave for our children? What is our vision for the United States?
Here are a list of things I want for America. As I put this list together, I thought about positive, actionable items. I sought to avoid partisanship and looked at what I feel is best for all of us as Americans. For my international readers, you may find things that you want for your country.
- To get through this pandemic, I want us to pull together as a nation and follow the best advice of scientists, doctors, and medical professionals. During World War II, my parents rationed, held recycling drives, and bought war bonds and stamps so our nation can survive. Certainly, we can put up with wearing masks and let our hair grow out to save our neighbors and family.
- I want people to have equal opportunity, no matter who they are. But to give them that opportunity, we must confront and fix the systematic roadblocks that have held them back. I recognize that I have had advantages that others have been denied. I want them to have those advantages too.
- I want equal justice under law. No one should get preferential treatment because of who they are, how rich they are, or what connections they have. And no one should be treated unjustly because of who they are, especially if they are poor or people of color.
- I want our children to have a quality education.
- I want us to embrace science and the possibilities, progress, and hope that goes with it. Rejecting science and the pursuit of knowledge has made us vulnerable to hucksters, demagogues, and rival powers that invest in their scientists and engineers. Learning and appreciating science will give our nation a technological and industrial edge and boost our optimism.
- I want the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world by offering healthcare for all. No one should have to delay necessary treatment or skip life-saving medicines because they can’t afford them. No one should go broke because they have cancer or need ongoing therapy. Yes, we will pay for it through our taxes, but it would cost us less than the current system of premiums, copayments, and cloying pharmaceutical ads. And we would get better care.
- We can make communities safe without police brutality and militarization.
- I want us to think about government as little as we do the engine in our car. It should just work, and we bring it in for maintenance every two years on Election Day. Like an engine, when we are forced to think about government, it’s because something has gone seriously wrong. Our government’s Check Engine light has been on for far too long.
- I want us to remember that politicians serve us, not the other way around. They do not come from God. They are not above the law. They should not be for sale to the highest bidder. They must always be held accountable and subject to scrutiny, regardless of party.
- I want to be able to criticize the president without fearing for my life.
- I want us to face the truth about our nation’s history. It’s only by facing the ugly and painful parts that we can grow as a society.
- I want to be able to think of someone from the other party as someone I can have a friendly debate with and go out for beers. I don’t want to have to think of them as a mortal enemy.
- I want to be able to turn on the news without dreading what I will see.
- I want my Social Security. I’ve paid into it for over 40 years. I’m not giving it up so a billionaire can use his tax breaks to buy another Bugatti Chiron.
- People should be able to go to school, work, their house of worship, a nightclub, an outdoor concert, a movie theater, a yoga class, or any public place without fear of getting shot to death.
- I want women to make decisions about their own health—and everything else about their lives.
- I want racism and all forms of bigotry and prejudice to be considered shameful again. It’s not “politically correct” or an “infringement on liberty” to treat people with respect. And if you are unrepentantly cruel and disrespectful to people because of who they are, you deserve to be canceled.
- I want conspiracy theories to be rejected, especially those designed to incite division, fear, and violence.
- I want my children and grandchildren to have a future. I don’t want them to watch the human race make itself extinct because we didn’t take care of the environment.
- If the Monopoly game can follow a set of rules, so should capitalism. A system based on the exploitation of people and resources where wealth and power is consolidated in a few hands is doomed to collapse. Pay people living wages, uphold health and safety standards, regulate industries, break up monopolies, prevent fraud and deceitful practices, support labor unions, and you will create a sustainable system that offers opportunity, comfort, and security to the greatest number of people. It’s not “socialism” to expect corporations and financial institutions to play by a fair set of rules.
- I want America to be true to its word, respect its treaties, gain the trust of its allies and the respect of its adversaries, and make good the promises of freedom in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
- I want to live in a world that combines healthy competition with cooperation. I want our country to succeed, but I also know that no nation can do it all alone. If we work with other nations, we can solve a wide array of shared problems from pandemics, global warming, terrorism, and famine. We can build prosperity based on trade, innovation, and partnerships. Humanity has always been global. What affects one community, no matter how remote, affects us all.
- I believe Black lives matter. Same with Hispanic, LGBTQ+, migrant, and all other groups. We shall not devalue people who look, love, pray (or not), and live differently from us. Until everyone is treated with dignity and humanity, we cannot claim “All Lives Matter.”
- I want us to protect our national parks, our wildlife, our forests, and our natural wonders. They are a national treasure, and they should be there for future generations to admire.
- I want America to be everything we’ve told ourselves we are. I want us to be the leader of the free world, the champion of democracy, and the lamp lifted beside the golden door. I want us to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. I want us to be beautiful. But I want us to be that in deed and not just in word.
I agree that these are ideals with no policies or programs behind them. Implementation requires brainstorming, debate, negotiation, compromise, and planning. But before we can get to the how, we have to agree on the what.
So, the last and most important thing I want for America is for us to decide who we are, what we value, what we strive to be, and that it’s all worth fighting for. If we can do that, we can get through these present troubles and build a better nation and a better world.