Doing the Difficult

Let’s hope Biden was honest when he said he would be the President for all Americans, regardless of what candidate they voted for in this election. 

Face it, the country is deeply divided.

More people showed up to vote to re-elect President Trump than any other President ever.

It’s just 4 or 5 million more people showed up to vote for Joe Biden, and this time in enough of the right states.

Democratic lawmakers will be faced with a more divided Congress. 

Republican lawmakers will be faced with options: to help or to not help.

  • Their history is clear, they will not offer any solutions for coal-mining areas suffering for decades. No regulations and the ability to dump toxic crap into our waterways didn’t save the industry nor their local economies.
  • Their history is clear, the reliance on massive tax cuts for the wealthiest and the largest corporations will continue to do nothing for our local economies, our local schools and our local infrastructure.
  • Their history is clear, that using the fear of losing guns and Jesus, both protected by the Bill of Rights, is about the only motivating factor for their bedrock of voters.

This is how nothing is ever accomplished for rural America, how our towns continue to dwindle and why opportunities and our people go elsewhere to take root and grow.

When we succumb to the same playbook of tactics and make no demands from those who bring out the worst in our neighbors, who are we and what are we responsible for in this mess?

When we don’t require politicians and a political party to produce any positive results for our communities, aren’t we both the fool and the villain?

It’s far easier to believe the worst than to take the time for some long term engagement on these issues.

We need more engagement on these issues in our culture, not less. Engagement doesn’t require agreeing with one another either. It does require learning about other views as well as exploring your own views.

We’re simply not getting that engagement from America’s two mainstay political parties. 

Republicans seem to be okay with sliding the courts backward a generation while the Democratic Party seems unwilling to take on the big issues and discuss them directly with the American people on a consistent basis without certainty it won’t harm their chances with the base. 

I get it. When you take a stand on an important issue, it upsets people that have a fixed position on it, even if that position is similar to your own.

Before taking a position, it is imperative to understand people, history and the systems that position would impact. Why do you think so many candidates don’t take any position except that they’re the best candidate? The only issue some people feel certain about is themselves. 

Republicans have seemed to master the political system while Democratic leaders have mastered the substance of some issues while not being able to articulate those issues succinctly and effectively to their membership and America. It’s why Republicans often have one voice and the Democratic Party does not. This has been made easier by the geographic gerrymandering both parties have ushered into the political system to benefit incumbency and gridlock.

Gridlock actually benefits both parties. If nothing much changes, both sides can utilize the same talking points from the last election cycle without a great deal of effort. It also makes it easier to point fingers at the other side being to blame.

When we consider the limited and often controlled choices that we have in our elections from the political parties, these choices tend to disappear in effective reality the more rural and more urban your community happens to be.

State and national Democratic parties and organizations avoid expending resources across much of America’s rural districts. Due to this lack of investment in rural communities, a great many people essential to a successful America simply are never part of any policy discussion. 

Rural families, workers and small businesses are left with the monotone and often misleading Republican talking points on education, healthcare, guns, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, taxes, national security, foreign policy, the judicial system, etc. etc.

I could go on for pages on issues that rural people receive limited or no dialogue from the Democratic Party, let alone Democratic candidates. The only dialogue about the Democratic Party that most rural voters receive is from the Republicans. Not the best setup for success, is it?

It would serve rural voters, the Democratic Party and their candidates to listen to rural needs and concerns as well as what rural communities have learned would work to help their communities and families. 

Presently and for an extended period of time, the often one note talking points from the Republican Party have been negative and overtly blaming of the Democratic Party for all our problems while offering only policies that have a half century of failure for working people. Further, the Republican Party’s failed policies have been especially terrible for rural America.

How do we know this is true? The Democratic Party didn’t challenge and even adopted the most popular of these failed stated policies. 

Simply because something is politically popular doesn’t make it anymore successful. 

Republicans have been running on massive tax cuts with no guarantees for American workers or investments in our communities since before I was born. It’s never worked to boost the American economy and has only created massive deficits and debt that have made it more difficult to make the necessary investments in our own infrastructure and systems, like education and healthcare. 

Additionally, these Republican tax cuts have given American companies the money to ship American jobs overseas with no penalties. Due to these job losses and subsequently those unemployed Americans finding cheaper labor positions, it has increased poverty, increased deficits and debt and all we have to show for it is a booming stock market, instead of investments in America’s children and their future.

It’s why No Child Left Behind was created as an incentive for schools to figure out how to boost test scores instead of figuring out how to help schools better educate and prepare our children for a quickly changing world and economy. 

Now, we don’t educate children as much as we have them fill ovals on a test. The result has been lowering expectations across the board. Those lowered expectations of our children will hinder our economy. It has also limited individual American’s ability to lift themselves out of poverty, which actually costs taxpayers more money.

It is far easier and cheaper to form mental connections early in life, not later. 

Let’s review quickly. Higher expectations for teachers. Less resources for teachers and families to reach those expectations. Lower expectations for students or the school will suffer more lost resources. 

Instead of focusing resources toward early education, making certain that every child has the best early education with the fewest number of students in the classroom that we can, we’ve fought over petty issues, where often the truth is obscured by talking points. 

Our children need access to good quality healthcare, fresh food that their parents can access in their neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods need to be safe and have stable social structures that give them and their families a chance. 

That’s what’s missing in America today. We’re not giving our children a chance and a fair shot at being healthy, productive adults when they come out of childhood. No wonder every system is failing us. We’ve not giving anyone a chance. 

We make demands of people that weren’t given the skills and the tools many were taught just 30-40 years ago, and the system was already beginning to fail then. Families are more overworked, overstressed, undertrained and now have an education gap with the modernized world.

No wonder many employers would prefer to hire older folks so they don’t have to train someone to do the basics. Likely, those employers lack the training to train their own employees properly and thoroughly. It’s easier to hire more experienced people today because so many have become unemployed during the Great Recession and now the pandemic has made many available again.

The lack of resources in education coupled with its sabotage have damaged America more than any pandemic or terrorist attack could ever do. The lack of investment is a self-inflicted wound that we can correct moving forward. 

It will be much more difficult to adjust the direction of our country after a half century of lack of investment in it. I wouldn’t bet we even embark on it as a national objective because it’s easier to remain ignorant than it is to acknowledge our mistakes and correct them if we want to move forward again as a nation.

There’s a reason why so many people can never open their mind to changing it. 

It’s why the Republican Party stuck with the same failed policies. It’s why the Democratic Party embraced those same failed policies for many years. Now, the Democratic Party is wrestling with that past history of failure as well as a new crop of voters, some of which prefer simple talking points that inspire purity tests. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The lack of investment in America and our education system infects and impacts all of our lives. It actually infects and impacts the entire world. It’s why most countries have banned travel from America.

The pandemic has only intensified and deepened the issues within the education system as well as every other aspect of basic living and survival. 

And, yet, Americans may not tackle these problems. Americans may continue to reward failure in their leaders. Americans may continue to not engage with those they disagree because it’s just too difficult and uncomfortable. 

I thought we did difficult things.

Maybe, that was another America.

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