Former President Trump was acquitted for the second time by the United States Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Now, it’s time to move on. Many Americans believe that America is headed in the wrong direction. My feeling is regardless of which party was in power, we haven’t actually been heading in a productive direction for a long time. What dismays me most is that good ideas can easily be smothered in the ongoing partisan war that has plagued us for the first 20 years of this century. And it seems to be getting worse. Compromise looks like a death sentence to many politicians, petrified of being primaried during their next election.
We are living in a time of unprecedented challenges to our way of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how woefully unprepared, (and, perhaps at times, unwilling) we are to handle and overcome this crippling crisis. We are facing serious threats brought on by global warming, unaffordable healthcare costs, equal opportunity concerns and many other stubborn issues. We are forced to address these problems at a time when we are a despairingly divided nation. There don’t appear to be many Americans in the middle. There was a time when the center held and compromises could be reached. We aren’t in that place right now.
Yet, there are at least a few issues we should be able to solve, in spite of our fractious state. Issues that clearly have the potential to help all Americans. I am hopeful that the new Biden administration will work hard to find common ground with the other side and get us moving again.
Our infrastructure has been crumbling for a very long time. Roads, bridges, schools, airports, railway systems, sewer systems and more, need repairs or replacement. In 2017, The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our infrastructure a D+ grade. The same group estimated in 2019, that we need to spend about $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix these problems. Yet, for years, Congress has not moved any significant legislation to the President’s desk for signature. Taking the necessary steps would not only help our ailing economy, it would reinvigorate our belief in our nation’s exceptionalism. Smooth roads, reliable bridges, technology ready schools and airports we can be proud of, would be a welcome shot in the arm.
Our immigration laws are clearly outdated. How many administrations have promised to fix that problem? Aside from executive orders, the last comprehensive immigration bill was passed during the Reagan Administration in 1986. Today, the left and the right are far apart on paths to citizenship. The issues, while complicated, should not be unsolvable. A few of the key issues include border security; how much should we as a nation spend and which investments will yield the highest returns? Another key question relates to unaccompanied minors, whose numbers have grown dramatically in recent years. Are they being treated fairly, kept safe, and being reunited with their families in a timely manner? We must also deal with the impact on U.S. workers when we permit needed, skilled H-1B workers into the country.
The bottom line is a healthy, well-functioning immigration system that serves America’s interests, is critical to our future. From our nation’s beginnings immigrants have made major contributions to America. If our elected officials are willing to stop using the issue to fire up their bases, and instead look for ways to make the system work better, we’d all be better off.
The affordability of healthcare is another longstanding, unresolved issue. Affordable healthcare has to be accessible to all who need it. It’s time we stop kidding ourselves about this. While we don’t seem to have an appetite for a single payor system, there are some things we can do to address the current inequities in the way healthcare is delivered. It’s not as if our health outcomes are terrific. In fact, we spend twice as much as other wealthy nations on health care, but rank lower in outcomes than most of them.
William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor, wrote in Forbes that technology alone could take us a long way toward improving both health outcomes and help us manage costs. He cited New York’s NYU Langone Health, as an example of how a comprehensive information system benefitted clinical staff and patients. Obviously, there is much more to be done to solve our health care crisis. Our elected officials, working cooperatively with the private sector, can certainly get the ball rolling by passing legislation that promises progress.
America is still a great country. We’ve stumbled before, but we’ve always found a way out of the doldrums and grown better by taking action. We are much better than we know.