Fighting for America

We must demand more of our leaders -- and ourselves

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We wish you could’ve been there with us. You would’ve been floating just like us.

We recently had the opportunity to meet the 2012 class of the Youth Leadership Richmond County program chaired by Steven Kendrick, which introduces the best high school juniors to the area’s leaders and leadership. You’ve never seen such bright, poised, articulate, charming young men and women in your life.

There’s a light in their eyes that can’t be explained only in human terms. They plan on being engineers, teachers, and more. They love life. They love people. They sop up more around them than SpongeBob SquarePants. You can’t help wanting the world for them. Their futures are undoubtedly bright.

Undoubtedly – except for one thing.

The state of America.

It’s not just the temporary economy that’s the problem. The nation’s financial infrastructure is crumbling under the weight of the recession, certainly, but just as much if not more so from the massive burden of the $15 trillion-plus national debt and yearly deficits that show no signs of abating. The debt and its growing interest is crowding out other spending, and will lead to incomprehensible tax increases and cuts in services for decades.

All the while, retiring baby boomers – the biggest cohort in history to reach 65 – have begun retiring, and will have to be supported in their golden years by a smaller pool of workers, as Congress has emptied out the Social Security trust fund all along. Experts say the country has made $100 trillion or more in retirement promises that we can’t keep.

The nation’s physical infrastructure is bowing and breaking from the stress of age and neglect as well. You’re well familiar with our road, highway and airport challenges – but did you know that some 700 water mains are busting each day in America? The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s drinking water system a D-minus. A report by the American Water Works Association predicts a $1 trillion bill for replacement and repair of water lines in the next 25 years, and a doubling or tripling of monthly water bills.

We’ve also been sold a bill of goods that we don’t need manufacturing – that America can remain great, in essence, by merely pressing each other’s pants.

Socially, the breakdown in families, in churchgoing and in values and ethics does not bode well for the country. And as boomers are adding years, they’ve been adding pounds – along with their progeny – which can only burden an already teetering health-care system with obesity-related ailments.

And facing the most momentous elections of our lives this year, we’re nonetheless seeing anemic voter turn-outs in many cases. Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey expects a 25 percent turnout in the Super Tuesday primary this week. At best.

Surely we can do better for those promising young leaders. Surely we must.

First, we must demand more of our leaders.

Ben Bernanke – who, as Federal Reserve chairman, must measure every word for fear of creating a panic – flat-out told Congress this past week that the country is headed for a “massive fiscal cliff.”

Yet, it’s difficult to know what, if anything, can move the most negligent crop of leaders in our nation’s history. The U.S Senate, for instance, has simply chosen not to pass a federal budget for three years.

Second, we’ve got to work on ourselves.

We simply have to pay attention.

There are somewhat limited choices left in this primary season, starting this week with Super Tuesday – elections in 10 states, including Georgia. There are nine presidential candidates on the Republican ballot in Georgia, but of course the field has been narrowed to four leading candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and the state’s own Newt Gingrich, who is leading in the Peach State polls.

In truth, though, this entire year is an election campaign – and, really, part of what is now an endless campaign season. We can’t afford to slumber through it, as drawn out and petty as it’s become. Because of everything that’s at stake – all the issues above, and more – this is the year we’ve all got to become political. We’ve got to decide what we believe and act on it. We’ve got to hold our leaders accountable for the state of the nation. And if they’re found to be lacking, they’ve got to be replaced – no matter how long they’ve been in office.

In short, citizenship must make a comeback in America.

It is our view that three things will be key to saving, restoring and reviving America: character, brotherhood and citizenship. If those made a rebound in American civic life and politics, everything else would take care of itself.

It won’t be easy. We’ve become comfortable and complacent in many ways. We’ve been entertained into a coma; it’s likely more people know the latest American Idol winner than who their elected leaders are. And a parade of interest groups, politicians and other assorted charlatans have convinced many of us that we can all get what we want all the time.

Ask yourself this: If you’re a member of a group or association, is it so that America will
be strengthened – or so that
your own hand will? The World War II generation joined clubs to further America’s aims; today, we join associations to further our own.

Worst of all, many of us seem content to trade in our freedoms for a bit of false security.

We are in danger of failing to leave the country better than we found it.

For the sakes of those bright, young future Richmond County leaders, and all our children, we’ve got to change course.

Comments (6) Add comment
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faithson
5531
Points
faithson 03/03/12 - 09:54 pm
2
2
'character, brotherhood and

'character, brotherhood and citizenship', why pray tell does the editorial board infer to its readers that only 'some', those who believe as them, are the people who can SAVE this great Nation. That only boils down to 30% of the voting American public. The other 70% have a say too in just how we bring about: 'character, brotherhood and citizenship'.

yakirz
9
Points
yakirz 03/04/12 - 12:35 am
0
0
The world's changing, and you
Unpublished

The world's changing, and you don't live in Mayberry anymore. Drop the 1950's "our nation's next leaders!" crap and join 2012.

seenitB4
98601
Points
seenitB4 03/04/12 - 04:54 am
1
0
Yeh..you are right we need to

Yeh..you are right we need to change things....fo sho..

You know how a dog shakes his fur out after falling in a pool of water....well America needs to do that...
Get up---shake off--& go again......but make it lighter & shake the fleas off.....some won't want to go but it has to happen.

The ole fox had it right ....he would take a twig in his mouth into the water......then hold his head right about the water line til the bad bugs jumped on the twig.......then he let go ..WOW..we can do that!!

Rhetor
1082
Points
Rhetor 03/04/12 - 07:40 am
1
1
Once again, ACES, you are

Once again, ACES, you are quoting someone out of context so as to imply that their meaning is something quite different than what they really said. It wasn't the national debt that Bernanke was talking about. Here's what he actually said: "Under current law, there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases." He says that this deficit reduction package shouldn't all be "on one date." Thus, he was actually saying the exact opposite of what you implied. Snipping the beginning and end of the quote was poor journalistic practice, to say the least. The correct quote can be found in any number of newspaper web sites.

Riverman1
94257
Points
Riverman1 03/04/12 - 07:38 am
0
1
I say we all vote for Obama

I say we all vote for Obama so we won't have to make our house payments and pay for gas. Fire Bernanke if he can't find the money to give us what we want. (Apologies to Copperhead.)

robaroo
884
Points
robaroo 03/04/12 - 08:44 am
2
0
The editorial is the best

The editorial is the best ACES editorial I have seen in a long time. Granted, it comes just three days before the Republican primary. But, it does push for what all political parties should be pushing for - fiscal responsibility.

For decades now, Americans have voted for Santa Claus. We want tax cuts and spending increases, all at the same time. All that debt will be "good" for the country and the economy.

I don't care about the context of Bernake's quote. What he said is that deficit spending must be fixed.

impossible
124
Points
impossible 03/04/12 - 09:41 am
1
1
faithson, I wonder if your
Unpublished

faithson, I wonder if your understanding of character, brotherhood and citizenship is as incorrect as your understanding of "infer?"

faithson
5531
Points
faithson 03/04/12 - 09:52 am
1
1
You make my case Impossible,

You make my case Impossible, thank you

in·fer   [in-fur] Show IPA verb, -ferred, -fer·ring.verb (used with object)
1.to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence: They inferred his displeasure from his cool tone of voice.
2.(of facts, circumstances, statements, etc.) to indicate or involve as a conclusion; lead to.3.to guess; speculate; surmise.4.to hint; imply; suggest.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 03/04/12 - 06:45 pm
0
0
I wonder what Republican
Unpublished

I wonder what Republican candidate has exhibited outstanding traits in the three areas? I believe that one of the best ways to show citizenship is to have been a part of the military. A good way to show brotherhood is to not be a member of or show support for exclusive clubs that deny women membership. And lastly a good sign of character might be to remember the wedding vows you take. I don't disagree with the areas picked by ACES but it is sorely lacking to say our problems in the country are a direct result of our lack of support in those areas. I would say the three areas we need support in are Jobs, Jobs, jobs. And the only thing I see the Republicans talk about are Abortion, Religion, and getting rid government programs no clearly articulated plan for any of them. Yes it is sad for our country that we have no sense of cohesion that the people had in WWII.

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