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My Point of View: What’s next for the country?

My Point of View by Joseph E. Brown Sr.

Joseph Brown Sr.

 

I have a sign in my office that states, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

It would be timely to write about COVID-19 or about the death of George Floyd. This column will not be about either of those. During the past month, I have been viewing episodes of the television series “West Wing.” After a significant event was over, fictional President Jed Bartlett would ask, “What’s next?”

In January 1968, my high school burned down in Clinton, Iowa. In April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. In June 1968, Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated. My two brothers were deployed in Vietnam:  Thom serving on the ground in the Marines and Bill serving on aircraft carriers off the coast. In June 1969, my high school graduation ceremony was conducted on the football field since there was no high school building. Almost every major city was experiencing race riots and violent marches. Earth Day was first acknowledged in 1970. The Kent State shootings were in 1970. It would have been easy to look around each other and ask, “What’s next?”

Well, we have come a long way during the past 50 years.  There was a time when presidents and members of Congress from both parties worked together to solve issues and to promote growth in the United States.

I have never understood why some issues have become partisan political issues. When did a pothole become a Republican or Democrat pothole? When did quality education become a Democrat or Republican issue? When did clean air and water become a Republican or Democrat issue? When did following the basics of our Constitution that all people are created equal become a Democrat or Republican issue? When did affordable and accessible health care become a Republican or Democrat issue? When did a fair tax system become a Democrat or Republican issue? When did paying your bills on time in lieu of borrowing money for future generations to pay become a Republican or Democrat issue?

Since almost all local citizens are not native Americans, why did immigration become a partisan issue?  Most of us have ancestors who immigrated from other nations to America. Why was it logical to provide tax breaks for corporations to relocate their manufacturing to other countries and not keep good-paying jobs in America? Why did we promote pharmaceutical companies to relocate production of medications to China in lieu of keeping manufacturing in America? What is the logic in paying workers low wages that force them to collect welfare from fiscally insolvent government? What is the logic behind paying people not to work?

I have never met anyone who supports polluted air and water. I have never met anyone who supports citizens being poorly educated. I have never met anyone who is comfortable with crumbling infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports and canals.  I have never met anyone who does not want access to affordable health care, including affordable medications. I have never met anyone who does not support a fair tax system. I have never met anyone who supports government spending more money than they are willing to collect.

The Great Depression was over 90 years ago. We came out of the Great Depression partially by putting people back to work building long-lasting infrastructure. My father was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps that built Eagle Point Park in Clinton, Iowa, before he joined the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Our nation is full of greatness when we work together as one. “E Pluribus Unum” or “Out of Many One” is embedded on each of our coins.  Now more than ever before we need to set aside political partisan differences and work together to create a nation that is fairer, more equitable and more equal. What’s next?

Joseph E. Brown Sr. is the superintendent of Fairmont Area Schools. He previously served in the Iowa state Senate from 1979-1986.

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