Try and imagine for a moment that our nation is not divided by partisan political warfare. Try and imagine for a moment that tribalism has not taken deep root. Try and imagine what we could accomplish as a unified people. Here are five thoughts for your consideration.
1. The wealthy must pay their fair share. The “1%” do not require tax relief. Instead, they need to pay up and shoulder their portion of the financial burden of running our government. This action must come on the heels of a new understanding across the nation that government is not the problem, but the solution. Like millions of other older Americans, my wife and I live on earned pensions, savings and Social Security checks. We dutifully pay U.S. taxes. As we have all seen in recent memory, some of the ultrarich pay no tax at all. Tax laws must be enacted to ensure that everyone — especially those most financially able — cough up their fair share.
2. Curtail religion’s influence in governmental deliberations. The Framers meant for religion to be protected as a private and not public issue. They chose to keep church and state separate, ensuring freedom of choice, even if that meant selecting no belief. For personal choices to be best protected, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and more require the shelter of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that no one creed will be preeminent. If one denomination is adopted as anything approximating a state religion, it endangers the rights of all. If history has proven anything, it is that when one belief system is elevated by government, it subsequently becomes a tool of the state. A well-functioning democracy requires the exercise of reason and compromise. Religious dogma is the antithesis of both.
3. Reconsider the Citizens United decision. For those not familiar, and simply put, the 2010 Supreme Court decision equates money to free speech and grants corporate entities similar rights to individuals. This 5-4 decision subsequently permitted billions of dollars to be injected into the political process, thereby corrupting it. Corporations are not human beings. This ill-conceived decision hands the 1% far too much influence in the political process and cries-out to be revisited. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution are about individual rights.
4. Set term limits. The Framers were aware of the influence of self-interest and greed in the public domain. They knew that elected officials could use their positions of authority to feather their own nests to the detriment of the public good. It seems that every first term senator or member of Congress desires most of all a second or third term. Today, a permanent political class has arisen that tends to serve itself and the well-heeled. Although not a perfect solution, setting term limits will mitigate the influence of the serially avaricious and self-absorbed, who appear so often on our television screens, and who have turned public service into a public circus.
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5. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Few topics today are more divisive than those involving newsrooms. Media echo chambers have been created, where those leaning toward either of the political wings can hear precisely what they wish to hear from their preferred source of information. These echo chambers serve only the interests of media corporations, not the American people. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949. It required licensed broadcasters to present both sides of important issues. That balanced regulatory guideline was abolished in 1987. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine will help to cut down on the echo chambers. Everyone’s lives will be improved when all sides of complex political issues are thoroughly examined and well considered, no matter your party affiliation. That, of course, is the whole purpose of open debate within democracies.
There are many more issues to consider, but these five thoughts would no doubt better the country in which we all live and hope to prosper. Try and imagine.
Robert Bruce Adolph is a former senior Army Special Forces soldier and United Nations security chief. In May 2022, he served as mission leader for a multinational team in support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Ukraine. Learn more at robertbruceadolph.com.