I firmly believe that the United States is only one generation away from destruction. That has been true ever since a motley group of men gathered in Philadelphia some 241 years ago. Those patriots stood up for the principles of self governance and many of them paid a heavy price for doing so.
Every generation has had to take a stand to protect our way of life and the current generation is no different. If we allow foreign governments to interfere with our democracy, we risk losing it. If we allow the extremists on the political fringes to divide us, we risk the freedoms that previous generations fought and died for.
The atmosphere in Washington DC has become increasingly toxic over the last 25 or 30 years. Back in the days of LBJ and Ronald Reagan, leaders of both parties would sit down with the President and each other and chat over drinks. They were able to make things happen. We’ve lost that. The mood since the early 90’s has become increasingly one of make no compromise and take no prisoners. Compromise has become a dirty word.
Short of tossing the whole bunch out and starting over, I’m not sure that there is any hope for Washington. Even that might not do the trick. Millions of dollars are spent each election cycle to elect representatives that will represent the special interests instead of us. Replacing one set of legislators owned by the special interests with another set, also owned by the special interests, doesn’t do us any good. The founding fathers envisioned a legislature where average citizens would go to Washington, serve for a few years, and then return to private life. I’d love to see us go back to that concept.
It is only slightly better in Tallahassee. Near absolute power is held by a handful of people who are more responsive to big money special interests than to the citizens of Florida.
One of the things I like best about serving on city council is that I am at the level of government that is most responsive to individual concerns. It is an almost daily occurrence for someone to drop by my “day job” office and bend my ear about one thing or another. I literally can’t go anywhere without being “on call” for citizen concerns. Walking back to the car Saturday evening, a fellow sitting in his driveway called out to remind me that we need to install a new street light on Central Avenue. I could see first hand the issue he was talking about just by continuing to walk back to my wife’s car.
I have had the honor to serve with other council members representing a wide variety of political views. We have been able to come together to do the right thing for the citizens of New Port Richey. All of us report directly back to those citizens. We have started the long process of making New Port Richey a vibrant place to live, work, and play.
If we want to take back our country, each of us needs to stand up and pitch in. If we do not, our entire country faces the future Billy Joel sang about in 1982. I reject the premise that our country is destined to become like the Allentown of the early 80’s.
We have challenges ahead of us: Our roads, highways, and bridges are literally falling apart. Our public schools are in trouble. Not only haven’t we been back to the moon in over 40 years, we can’t even get a single astronaut into low earth orbit unless we buy them a ride from the Russians! A good part of the problem appears that we bought into a rather seductive lie in the 80’s. The lie was that we could cut tax rates and tax revenues would magically rise. Sadly, all too many of our leaders still worship at the altar of Grover Norquist. If we want to fix things, we need to be willing to pay the price.
We can do better and we will do better.
We’ve proven that it can be done at the city level. It is time we elect leaders to every level of government that will reject the stagnant status quo and move America boldly forward into the 21st Century.
The old jobs we’ve lost in coal mining and other 19th century industries simply aren’t coming back. We can’t make America great again by turning inward and trying to recapture an imaginary golden age.
We need retake the technological leadership we exhibited to the world back in the 60’s space race and retrain Americans for the new jobs that are growing rapidly in fields like solar energy. America has a bright future ahead of it, but only if we are willing to work to make it happen.
I’ll leave you with one last revolutionary thought to ponder on this 4th of July. How about we replace our almost unsingable national anthem with something us mere mortals can sing? Enjoy.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor