• Chris Stanley

Toward a More Perfect Union

I turned 40 over the weekend, and as one does, it caused me to reflect on my life and my country. Having lived half of my life in the 20th century and half in the 21st, I couldn't help but to compare how we were and how I felt at the end of the 20th century compared to now.

The 20th century as a whole was, well, pretty awful. At the beginning of the century we exploited children for labor, polluted our environment to its destruction, and found Americans across the country working in appalling, unsafe conditions. We experienced corporate greed and laissez faire government, the combination of which led to what was almost the economic downfall of our country, plunging millions into unemployment and into the bread lines. We fought in two of the most destructive wars in all of human history, only to find ourselves in an ideological war against the Soviet Union, which flashed into hot wars around the globe, including Vietnam which drive a wedge in between families and political parties throughout the United States.

But as they do, things got better, little by little. The evils of segregation were fought against, paid for in blood and hardship by African-Americans and their allies. The Soviet Union fell, offering the hope of freedom to millions across the globe, and for America to be an example to the world about the benefits of liberty and freedom. The world, it seemed, was filled with the limitless hope of possibilities to a future in which we all thrived and got to live out the American Dream.

The 21st century, however, dashed those hopes.

First it was 9/11, then the ill-fated and deliberately misleading invasion of Iraq. It brought the reality that Americans tortured their prisoners, the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and a Housing crisis that threatened to plunge the United States into economic depression—a lesson that was previously learned in the 1930s, but one that politicians thought wouldn't apply any longer. It saw the shrinking of the middle class, support and funding for public education erode in favor of privately held, for-profit charters, and the diminishing of worker's rights that were fought for and earned by our forefathers in the 20th century. Our economic policies are mirroring those of the Gilded Age, where profit and corporations reign supreme, and the republic and those in it suffer. In fact, Americans must work an average of 56 weeks a year in order to cover housing, transportation, and medical costs along. In case you're counting, there's 52 weeks in a year. All of those issues and problems are now exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis.

Here in the 21st century, we have lost the collective vision of creating a more perfect union. It's time that we save this vision before it's lost forever, and it starts with the most critical election in our lifetimes, November 2020. We can create a future that invests in its people; one that pays our essential workers a just and living wage, one that people everywhere have access to affordable healthcare, and one where the quality of one's education isn't determined by the zip code in which they live. I believe in our future. I believe in our ability to move toward a more perfect union, here in the 21st century. Will you join me?

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