There seems to be a lot going on in America. You’ve probably noticed.
Despite our 24-hour news cycle, the report from the heartland is not all bad. America continues to be a land of opportunity and promise, a place where civil rights are mostly respected, where despite too many guns, most people don’t shoot each other. Where we tolerate differences and our neighbors’ penchants for motorized vehicles. Where your religion is your own business. And who you vote for doesn’t make you enemies. There is reason for optimism.
However… This is also an election season that, whoever you’re rooting for, there seems to be something to dislike. Plus there is violence in our streets, a heat wave, forest fires, tempers flaring, emails leaking: it must be summer. This exceptional year has provoked in some of us here at the Muse a wish for an improved country, a better America. We aren’t policy wonks or futurists. Just some seasoned writers with seasoned opinions.
We love you, America
… land of the free and home of the brave. And we want you to continue to be the greatest experiment in democracy. What can we do as citizens to make our country better? At the very least we can make some constructive suggestions. Here’s our wish-list, in no particular order, for America 2016 and beyond.
Please add your own ideas. We need all the help we can get.
- Change election day to Sunday. The lack of voter participation makes democracy even harder.
- Make mail-in ballots the norm, like several states already do. Or at least make voting by mail simple for everyone.
- Return to the practice of teaching civics in school, so that our citizens better understand the concept of “separation of powers” and how that is supposed to work.
- Appoint a defense spending czar who will once and for all make defense contractors tow-the-line, no more million dollar showers stalls that electrocute our troops.
- National health care that covers everybody, period.
- Or at least the public option, essentially Medicare for those under 65
- Standardize voting throughout the country. Everyone uses the same method of counting ballots.
- Add mandated civic responsibility and participation–and not just hours of community service that might look good on a college application.
- Repair the nation’s antiquated and crumbling infrastructure, with a system like the WPA, which enabled our immigrant grandfathers to support their families during the Depression.
- Strict limits on electoral spending at all levels, financial campaign reform that vaporizes the PAC system
- End all corporate participation in elections. A corporation does not vote.
- Restore arts and music funding to our schools through defense spending cuts
- Repurpose military funds and personnel by closing down unnecessary bases around the globe and removing mega-corporations from the military trough. Soldiers can peel their own potatoes, for example, just like their fathers and grandfathers did.
- Appoint a civil rights commission formed by leaders of black and other communities of color, police departments, activists in all social justice fields. Provide local outreach for dialogue, reform, and education.
- Fix all the gun control loopholes: shows, online sales, waiting periods.
- Fund our mental health facilities, especially at the Veterans Administration, but also in community mental health everywhere. Provide funds for in-hospital stays for the indigent.
- Expand public housing. Provide tax breaks for redevelopment of slums. Provide incentives for low-income residents to own and maintain their homes.
- Train physicians without tuition fees. Give every high school graduate two years of tuition-free college to train and study.
–Wish-list contributors: Gary, Taffy, Kate, and Lise
If there seem to be a lot of free things on this list, there are. Your government should help you, that’s what it’s for. It’s not a place to make money. You pay taxes so that the government works for everybody. Nobody is going to be giving out cash soon or paying off your mortgage. But it should help you live a decent life, in relative comfort with freedom from hunger and the elements, with medical care, and if necessary, a leg-up to improving yourself. It should provide relative safety from crime and fire and disaster, and help when tragedy strikes.
You may say we’re dreamers, but we aren’t the only ones, right? What’s on your wish-list for the USA?
It’s going to take all of us, together, to get this done.