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Jack DeVine / January 3, 2022

Imagine: A Better Year Ahead

It’s easy enough to imagine that 2022 will be a better year than the last two; achieving it is another matter altogether.

The Gloomy Gus expectation for next year is more of the same: COVID crushing us, instead of vice versa; inflation locking in for the long haul; continuing hemorrhage at the southern border; an unstable world closing in, with frightening potential.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can do better. We MUST do better.

We all have our pet ideas about how to attack these issues. But this much is sure: Unless we Americans find some way to start pulling together, we’ll just keep lurching from one extreme to the other and never make enduring progress.

And we know this as well: Left to their own devices, our elected leadership — of either party — will continue to drive us apart. It fits their political agendas. Our president speaks eloquently about national unity; he just can’t seem to walk the talk.

But we, the citizens of this great country, can walk the talk. Instead of waiting for our leaders’ miraculous epiphany, we can model the behavior we expect of them and hope they’ll notice. That’s wishful thinking, perhaps, but the fact is that losing an election or two is a sure-fire way to get any politician’s attention.

With that in mind, here’s a set of personal steps we can take — call them New Year’s resolutions for those of us who want to straighten our country’s vacillating, meandering path.

Resolution #1: Tune out the bubble. We all like our comfort zones, with our circle of friends and the TV stations that reflect our own views. But tough issues are tough because they have two sides. The bubble offers confirmation bias; it helps to cement our own beliefs, but it blocks understanding of the other side. We can’t communicate with those who disagree without understanding their disagreements.

Resolution #2: Trust your instincts. Today’s issues are complex, but deep down we know what makes sense and what doesn’t. Don’t let erudite, intricate explanations convince you that down is up. No, trillion-dollar expenditures are not free.

Resolution #3: Never wish for the other side to fail. Be relentlessly positive, and always root for what’s best for the country, no matter who gets the credit (Ronald Reagan’s credo). Democrats did all they could to ensure Donald Trump’s failure; before that, Republicans did the same with Barack Obama and now with Joe Biden. It’s wrong. Stick to the high road.

Resolution #4: Always look for the common ground and be willing to grasp it. No matter how tough the issue, there are always parts on which all (left and right) can agree, and that can be the starting point for unified effort.

A few examples:

  • On national defense: We can be sure that China, Russia, Iran, and others would like nothing better than to destroy the USA and carve up the remains. Like it or not, we must develop and maintain the world’s best military. George Washington told us that the only way to prevent war is to be demonstrably ready to fight one and win it.

  • On the economy: We should look at the nation’s financial health as if the money is our own (it is!) and with the same intensity with which we manage our personal finances. Spend on needs, not wants; borrow for long-term benefit (like the mortgage on your house), not for short-term expenses (paying for this week’s gasoline).

  • On racism: It’s a two-way street. We can’t make up for past injustices by imposing an equal amount of compensatory injustices. A grievance ledger never balances.

  • On social justice: Every human being deserves respect and fair treatment, regardless of differentiators such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or age. But that doesn’t require us to pretend that the differences don’t exist. A biological man who wants to be a woman is still a biological man — he can identify as a woman but he won’t be one. Let’s stop worrying about pronouns and focus instead on fairness — to all.

  • On Illegal immigration: We’re a nation of immigrants, and we should continue to be. We should open our doors wider to legal immigration and slam them shut to illegal entry.

And Resolution #5: Speak up/speak out. Silence is assent. Ignore the voices who warn, “You can’t say that!” Don’t let cancel culture silence you, either overtly (social media censorship) or the more subtle but effective censorship by social intimidation. A silent majority will not carry the day. Find your voice and let it be heard.

So, let’s get to work. And Happy New Year!

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