New Year 2021

‘We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.’

John Dewey

Before we finally close the door on 2020, we should take a moment to reflect on the year.

We need to remember all those we lost this past year. Whether from COVID, or cancer, or heart disease, or stroke, or violence, or other diseases and natural causes, we have lost far too many people.

We need to remember all we have learned in 2020. 

We always knew that our first responders and health professionals were essential, we now know that delivery drivers, pharmacists, grocery store workers, janitors, truckers, and so many others are the ones who kept us healthy, clothed, fed, and secure.

We learned that teachers are even more remarkable than we ever gave them credit for.  They pivoted on a dime from in school to virtual learning to hybrid and every combination thereof.  They created new lessons, found new ways to engage and interact, and keep children curious and educated.

We managed to live without sports and entertainment and found new ways to connect with family, friends, nature, and our communities.

We saw a successful return to space through private company launching from American soil.

We managed to safely and successfully fast-track a vaccine to change the course of this pandemic and bring a sense of normalcy back to our chaotic world.

There have been other medical advances that have improved the lives of patients around the country and around the world.  We must continue to invest in research to ensure this momentum continues.

As we welcome in 2021, I remain hopeful and optimistic that we can take these tough learned lessons and create a better tomorrow.

That we learn to be respectful and civil to our neighbors and fellow countrymen.  We do not have to agree with each other, but we do have to live together.  Our differences should not divide us, but provide opportunities to collaborate and to improve.  We all want a better world for our children and for each other. Kindness does not take an additional effort but makes a huge difference in how we interact.

We need to continue to remain engaged in politics and policy, to stand up for what we believe in, and to vote those beliefs.  Individualism remains much more important than party loyalty.  We need to continue to improve the processes to make it easier and more secure for everyone to cast their ballot.  Government works best when ALL voices are heard.

We have learned how important our health is and access to care.  It is time we put aside the politics and find a way to ensure everyone has consistent access to quality, affordable care.  No one should have to choose between medicine and food, or choosing between losing their home or losing their child. 

We must continue to fight for equity and equality across the country.  Our ‘freedoms’ are meaningless if they’re not applied equally.  As good citizens, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our country to do better.

Finally, we must prioritize education and ensure that truth and facts are the basis of our national discourse.  We need to encourage investment in science and technology, not just to improve medical outcomes, but to ensure our assets are protected in ever-increasingly connected digital world. 

If we can launch a rocket to space, we should be able to do so many simpler, yet important, things.  We just have to put our collective minds and efforts behind it.

Thank you for the friendship, the debate, the support, and the commentary.  Whether we agree or not, my life is richer for each and every one of you.

My wish, as always, is for a healthy and happy New Year to you and your families.

July 4, 2018

Today is my favorite day of the year.
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Patriot:

a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

 
Today is my favorite day of the year.
Yes, I love summer. Yes, we all enjoy a day off.
Neither of those is the reason, however.
 
It was 242 years ago when a group of patriots declared their independence from Britain. This was more than a revolution, it was a cause.
A belief that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
 
They set forth not only to dissolve the bonds to Britain, but to create a new form of self-government, in which the government derives its just power from the governed.
This grand experiment had never before been attempted. Change in leadership had always been from violence, or change never happened.
Their idea, our government, was based on a peaceful transition of power. Open and fair elections for all citizens to participate and a free press to speak truth to power. Those powers purposefully separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each equal; none above another, and assigned oversight for each other. The real power lies within the People of this great nation.
 
Today, those truths are not as self-evident, and sometimes truths aren’t evident at all.
The power of the People has been diminished by the power of the dollar.
The press, while still free, is not as independent, thanks to media ownership rules, and battling a campaign labeling different or opposing views as fake.
The oversight among branches of government has been largely sidelined by partisan loyalty.
 
Despite the challenges, we still are the oldest existing nation with a constitutional government in which the people elect their own government and representatives.
Our Republic is facing crisis, but the foundation is solid. We, The People, must continue to use our voice, we must vote for Country over party, we must retain our Rights, and ensure that the Founders concept for a government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from this earth.
 
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Too often, politically, we see opposition for one as support of another. We should look beyond petty loyalties, and look to underlying belief. What is best for the country may not always align with your political view, but patriotism isn’t about politics, it’s about country.
So today, as we wave the flag and watch the fireworks, take a moment to reflect upon your own patriotism. Can you put your love of country ahead of a person or a party? Can you accept that we all have been granted the same Rights, enjoy the same freedoms, and believe in the ideals so beautifully expressed 242 years ago?   Are you willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, as the Founders did?
We must put aside our differences, move beyond our divisiveness, our contempt, and our political loyalties. Please take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence today as a reminder not just of our shared past, but of our common future, as the United States of America.
 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Responsibility in Politics

What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression. It’s time we used them wisely.

Is the system broken, or are we?
Politically, we may not be who we think we are, so when we vote, are we making an informed choice, or a reactive one?  We are individuals, yet typically identify with a collective, even when it’s detrimental to some of our beliefs.
For those who identify as liberal or conservative, perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and decide if that represents the entirety of your views.  While each of us has some component of each philosophy, some lean much more one way than the other. As a personal belief, there is nothing wrong with that. As a political ideology, it gets more complicated.  When it comes to governing, it is ineffective.
What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
E. Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one.
Our motto says it all. We are a vast and diverse Nation with many beliefs, traditions, ideas, philosophies, and desires.  Each of us is guaranteed the right to have our own opinions, and the right to express them. We can express them in many ways; where we live, how we shop, the friends we keep, the jobs we hold, and who we vote for.
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It is that very vote that makes it so critical for elected officials to separate their personal ideologies from the ability to govern.
Leadership is the culmination of skills required to create an inspiring vision of the future, motivate people to engage with that vision, and deliver on it.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
True leaders will build consensus and act on the best interests of the entire Country. When we allow our partisan desires to disrupt the process, stall legislation, and enrage those with different beliefs, we do a great disservice not just to each other, but to our democracy.  Any time one party pushes too far to one side, the pendulum inevitably swings far to the other side.  Opposition is not leadership, nor is inaction.
It isn’t difficult to see the future continuing to be a divisive one, with swings from one side to the other, and back again. It is just as easy, however, to envision an environment of collaboration, where Congress, despite their individual beliefs, collectively works to legislate for all.
For those in the electorate on the extremes, your anger and disappointment will never fully be assuaged.  While there will always be small victories, extreme views never play well in national politics.
For the rest of us, who tend to be a little of each philosophy, while we may never be fully happy, we will never be completely disappointed.
Our Republic was created to ensure that each of us has a voice, and that all our voices are equal.
Rather than work to divide, and to push an agenda doomed to eventual failure (and dismantling by the next Congress/Administration), we should work to unite, and elect responsible representatives. It is only then that we can move past this period of extreme division and disappointment, and begin to fulfil the Founders vision of democracy, where all men are created equal, and government exists to preserve the Rights of the People.
It is easy to place blame, judge others, and express frustration with the ‘system’.  Taking a critical look inward is difficult, as is accepting responsibility.  Our National identity, however, should come before any party one.
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.  We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression.  It’s time we used them wisely.