What I’d Like to Hear From My Next President

Posted on February 1, 2015

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I do a lot of day dreaming while walking. It takes my mind off the arthritis in my feet.

I thought I heard the next President of the U. S. giving a major speech, maybe it was his Inaugural Address, January, 2017.

“I will lead this great country with both knowledge and wisdom.

“I will listen to the voices of the Founding Fathers, and a few of the Mothers as well, and I will build my administration on the realities of today, but not forgetting or submerging the moralities and strengths of our past.

“I will forge a new vision for tomorrow, with the help of the best and the brightest in this great nation, just as the Washingtons and the Jeffersons crafted our marvelous new nation over two hundred years ago, a republic in a world of monarchies, an experiment built on the twin foundations of our Christian faith and the age of reason.

“I want to hear from you, but I also want to lead, not follow opinion polls and the general drift of society and culture that has moved away from core values.

“What are some of these core values, you may well ask?

“Truth, morality, ethics, personal responsibility, accountability, and education for starters.

“We need to establish the basic principles, then we can deal with the environment, immigration, lunacy among Islamic radicals, global warming, racism, a decaying infrastructure, and others that scream for our attention.

“Our county is at a juncture in history.

“We are in a shambles, still frightened by the shadow of 9/11.

“But we also possess immense strength and integrity, promise and a future.

“In the past two hundred and fifty years, we rose to the top of the world, a land of political freedom and free enterprise that drew, and still draws, people from all over the world, escaping poverty and oppression, looking for a new start in safety and with liberty.

“We are a beacon to the poor and the oppressed.

“Just look at our borders and would-be-immigrants by the millions trying to get in.

“Are they knocking at the doors of China, or Iran, or Russia in the same way?

“We will solve the tough problems of immigration within two broad principles: we are a land of immigrants and want them here to renew the nation; and we are a law-abiding people and embrace laws that sustain our frameworks of peace and freedom.

“Yet, we have also become slaves to our greed, to basic human instincts that if not filtered through our Christian faith, demean and lower us into selfish purveyors and consumers of trash and filth. Instead of “we,” the most common pronoun in public discourse is “I.”

“We need to reaffirm the virtue of service and sacrifice for the whole, not raise a selfish embodiment of self, crudely caught by a movie a few years ago with the famous line, “greed is good.”

“To do all this, I am laying out the basis for my administration. It will not please all. I am not in the pleasing business.

“Tonight I am going to outline and describe just a few broad principles.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal.” That was a principle, somewhat radical for his time, but it was a principal, not yet realized in his time, but it has stood the test of time.

“We have yet to knock down all the barriers to true equality of opportunity and success.

“We will invest in education, infrastructure, immigration, government-funded research and rules that incentivize risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

“We need more people, better educated that the best on earth, with the inducements of free enterprise to give us more Internets, more GPSs, more probes into outer Space, better medicines, and, in sum, the stuff of life.

“But while we are rebuilding our infrastructures, for example the roads and highways of our trade and communications livelihood, we also need to rebuild the infrastructure of our spiritual and moral lives.

“Large portions of our people have degenerated into an attitude that society owes them something. For lack of a better word, we call it the entitlement generation.

“Let me remind you what John F. Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address of 1961. ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask you can do for your country.’

“We will require a national service for all young people that can be military or civilian to restore our sense of belonging to one nation.

“We will restore work where it belongs, a central, God-given mandate to lift yourself up, live up to the plans God has for you, live the Dream as Martin Luther King, Jr. told us.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” the Psalmist wrote. (29:18)

I woke with a start as my cell phone started chirping. Was I dreaming? Maybe not.

Published as “What I’d Like to Hear from Our Next President” in my OpEd column, The Port Rail, Sunday January 11, 2015, in The Tuscaloosa News