Richard Brand: A New Beginning

For the last few years nothing has been more obvious than the fact that Congress and the American government is not working. The gridlock is preventing any action on all major issues. Except for the few folks who believe that the best thing government can do is nothing, the rest of us believe that the Congress should work to enact the things that the constitution says they are supposed to do: “establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” to all.

The frustration in the country was clearly tapped into by both the campaign of Bernie Sanders and the campaign of Donald Trump. Both of the major parties have become so bought and dependent on big money that it appears to many that they have lost their moral compass, abandoned their principles, and have sold out to their special interest.

We need to begin a much wider debate about a Moral revolution. There are things that are just not right. There are issues that affect all citizens that are not one parties or the others issues. They are American issues and they need to be promoted.

One of these issues is the staggering disparity in the wealth in this country. That there are four hundred families with more wealth than the rest of the country is not good for this country. That there are CEO’s who make $90,000 an hour with employees who make minimum wage is not right. That all of the wealth generated in the last eight years has gone to the 1% is not right. It is not right that hard working people cannot maintain a life on the minimum wage. The economic playing field is not level. There is no rising tide that is lifting all boats. The middle class has disappeared. They are the ones who hope that the new President will bring back their good jobs. There has to be a coming together of all citizens that demands that government act morally and adjust the economic realities so that there is a different transfer of wealth back to the citizens. The richest man in China recently commented that American corporations have failed the country by not returning their profits to their employees and to the citizens who have provided the environment for the corporation to succeed. However the discussion goes, whatever programs are developed the moral reality is that the wealth needs to be distributed differently to rest of the citizens.

Another of the moral issues is the whole question of health care. It is not right that we have the richest country in the world and do not have universal health care for all citizens. All the other developed nations have some form of universal health care. It is not morally right for companies to make enormous profits over drugs that people need in order to live. It does not matter if the ACA is overturned as long as the replacement is a form of universal single pay health care system for all citizens. It is not a question of what party does it. It is not right and just for health care to be a option for the rich alone.

The Moral agenda for the future has to look at and reform the criminal justice system in which people are put into jail differently because of wealth or race or religion. For a black football player at Vanderbilt to be convicted of rape and get 16 years and a white swimmer at Stanford to get six months, is not right. Young people put in jail for small amounts of drugs and the state of Colorado selling drugs legally is not right. The sentencing standards are not just nor fair. The whole justice system needs to be examined with a desire to do the just and fair thing. Black lives matter as much as white lives and that has to be reflected in our justice system.

There is a hard and demanding question of religious liberty for all of our citizens. There is a great conflict between those who want to make this country into a theocracy. To establish one religion as the national religion. There is the other side that believe that the religious faiths of all people ought to be equal. That the society is such that there is room for all faiths to be practiced. The moral standing of the country should be hammered out by the debate so that the laws establish standards of behavior that accommodate the major values of all religions. There is no questions that a person’s religious convictions would influence her behavior, but her convictions would not be permitted to dictate to society what the behavior of others should be.

For the “blessings of Liberty, to ourselves and our Posterity” to be achieved the whole question of the reality or trust we have in education and science must be settled. Why do we want to demand more and better education and research, if we are not going to accept the conclusions? Why do we continue to give equal weight to the 1% who do not accept science conclusions with the 99% who do? The whole education enterprise has been a football that has been kicked back and forth. It is a effort that has had a new agenda every couple of years. No theory of education has been given more than a couple of years to prove itself. Every new administration at State and Federal level had new and different plans. Our educational programs are not just and fair to all children. It is not morally justifiable that some schools get so many more resources. It is not right that those who champion education still do not want to pay teachers what they should be paid.

These to me are not issues that are partisan. These are moral questions that need to be discussed and the solutions found by doing what is the moral and right thing for all the citizens. It does not matter what party wants to take the lead or whether there needs to be a new party that does not owe its soul to its funding base. But we need a new moral vision for our country.

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