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Jim Crawford: Restoring faith in us

You may agree or disagree with Joe Biden, but after nearly half a century in Americans politics, you know Joe. With Joe Biden, what you see is what you get — a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, who is a straight talker and who we can trust to lead the nation in a time when restoration is the necessary medicine for the country.

Mohandas Gandhi once said, “I understand democracy as something that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.”

That truth needs restoration today, in a moment of our history where the inequality of wealth, the inequality of race and the inequality of justice stand at an apex.

Our tax system needs to reflect more capably our values; our political system needs to be more responsive to our needs and our character as a nation needs refreshed by honesty and decency. Only then can we restore the very American idea of power in the hands of the people.

The first steps are being taken, and those steps must include a reckoning with our recent past. We must fully end the addiction to the false claims of election fraud claimed by the previous president and now advanced by Republicans across the nation as justification for restricting voting rights.

So, too, must we set aside the false and damaging claims that the pandemic was not real, that it was not needlessly killing Americans while our leaders looked away or denied it in part or in full.

“A great democracy must be progressive, or it will soon cease to be a great democracy,” wrote Theodore Roosevelt. But we cannot be progressive if we cannot even name and speak the truths that surround us.

For our most recent years, our politics have been polluted by the silliness of claims that reduced real problems to absurd phrases like “cancel culture” or “deep state.” At a time when Americans need better health care, more job opportunities in rural and urban regions, fairer taxes, equal justice and sincere solutions, we have instead become accustomed to and deluged by inane rhetoric free of content. Our federal government has stood still while its foundations crumbled under the burdens of imagined slights.

But we can, and we must, look forward now, and seek a restoration of what made America great. We must not accept that we cannot, we must demand that we can. Just as the nation has led the world in getting the new vaccines into our population, we can do even more. We can help the nations that need our support in getting vaccinated, for the pandemic will not end until the world is vaccinated. It can be a moment of renewed American leadership.

Likewise, as President Biden has proposed, we can fix our infrastructure. We can restore our leadership in fields of endeavor we once surrendered like solar and wind energy. And we can recapture our leadership in research and science with a restoration of federal funding and a conviction that science leads us forward. Our greatness has always lied within our progress, and that progress must once again focus us to build together.

Norman Cousins wrote, “In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power, but carries the ultimate responsibility.” Our restoration begins with truth-telling, followed by remembering that we are a progressive nation, bound only by the imagination of our people, and limited only by our own excesses.

It is a time for restoration and responsibility, it is an opportunity for greatness.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.