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Thursday, December 13, 2018

A vision of an America after its entry into a new, Age of Enlightenment

This is a new America, one that once was destined for greatness and found the ways to achieve it.

Image Credit: The Hairpin
During the period, 1685-1815, Britain, European countries and, to a lesser degree, American colonies, went through what is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, aka, the Age of Reason, that produced a radical reorientation in science, politics, religion, philosophy, journalism, and means of communications.
 
It was also called the Age of reason because it opened up the power of the mind, to think more deeply,  and make judgments based on a process of logic. .It generated a plethora of great books and essays by the best thinkers of that time. It was a time of creativity and innovativeness that transformed governments and societies.
 
Could such an Enlightenment take place in America? Well, let’s take a look into the future and see. It’s now the year 2050 in our country and things could not be better for it and the American people.
 
Looking back to the decades after its entry into the 21st Century, it could be said that America was in the midst of an Age of uncertainty, confusion, and divisiveness, in which it had seemingly lost its sense of direction. It had a government, in particular, the Congress that was so divided ti was totally dysfunctional, nothing was being done and the country was suffering greatly as a result.


There were deep, irreconcilable, divisions between Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and the House.  In the society, it’s seemed as if we had two separate societies, kind of like a modern-day version of “haves and the have-nots”, with a stark contrast between the wealthiest Americans and those who were struggling to make ends meet.
 
Well, in subsequent decades, America went through a huge transformation and, entered an era of Enlightenment, thereby becoming truly great. How this miracle took place is difficult to explain since it appeared to “come out of the blue.” New, rational-minded, deep thinking leaders in government and the society emerged and initiated this Age of reason in which logic prevailed, making positive and constructive things happen.
 
In this new America, a badly needed presidential vetting process came into being. The days of any candidate with any kind of qualifications and experience being able to occupy the office of the presidency were over. In the past it was quite easy for a candidate that was ill-suited to occupy the highest, most important job in America, such as G.W. Bush and Donald J. Trump, to run and get elected.
 
The only requirements for holding the office of U.S. president were: had to be a natural born U.S.citizen for the past 14 years and at least 35 years of age. Nothing else was required relative to the knowledge and experience. A candidate did not even have to be a high school graduate. Simply incomprehensible!
 
Here are the general requirements that it was decided that a candidate should have:
 
He or she should have a good, basic knowledge and understanding of the U.S. Constitution. Nothing could be more important, as it lays down the guidelines for how this government should function.
 
The same holds true for economics as a U.S. president’s knowledge of economics has a major impact on his ability to manage a strong and growing economy.
 
A candidate seeking this highest office in the land should also have a good knowledge of governmental affairs, an understanding of how the Congress and various governmental agencies carry out their main functions.
 
Leadership and vision: does the candidate display critically important characteristics of being able to lead others in governing this country, have a vision for the future, and the ability to inspire others?
 
Does the candidate’s history reflect a state of stable mentality? This is of great importance because this country must be led by a president who remains calm in difficult situations, has an even temperament, unites people rather than divides them, and knows the difference between right and wrong.
 
Does the candidate have the necessary experience to manage government functions, to be able to set goals and objectives and work with others to achieve success?
 
For those who would say that anyone in America should have the opportunity to become president, they should think about this: Which of the following jobs or professions does not require specific qualifications, experience, and or, high-level training?
 
A scientist, a teacher, corporate CEO or CFO, doctor,  registered nurse, or a hospital technician? It’s a must because these jobs or professions have very important responsibilities. Well, who in this country has a more responsible job than a U.S. president?
 
How could such a vetting process be adopted in the U.S. political system? We have to remember that this was the Age of Enlightenment in which reason and logic prevailed. Political parties were a part of this Enlightenment and their old, obsolete ways underwent radical change. Each party made absolutely certain that it was only going to approve a presidential candidate who would meet the vetting standards and would govern this country in an honest, ethical, and moral manner.
 
An Enlightened government took an important step and decided that a  reconstitution of The U.S. Senate was needed and here’s why: the Founding Fathers, when creating the Constitution, mandated that there should be two senators from each state, regardless of the size of their populations. And that, over time, proved to be very problematic. But let’s not blame them for they had no way of knowing how these individual states would grow.  
 
Their decision was based on the belief that if the larger states would be granted more senators than the smallest, that the former would use that power to control all legislation. But the reality now is that these smaller states in the South and the Northwest have, in many cases, used that power to prevent the will of the majority of the people in this country from being done.
 
Here’s just how bad this situation is. The combined population of this country’s three most populous states, California, Texas, and New York is nearing 90 million and they have a combined total of 6 senators. The three least populous states, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, have about 2 million people and they also have 6 senators. So the three most populous states, collectively, are 45 times larger than the 3 smallest but the representation of the people is the same. Ludicrous!
 
Let’s also take a look at this condition from a slightly different view that makes the continued existence of this imbalance almost incomprehensible: The least populous states have 50 senators and the most populous also have 50. The smallest possess the same power as the largest. Is this an example of how a democracy should function in the most effective manner? The answer is, absolutely not.
 
It was long coming, but America finally implemented a universal healthcare system that covered every American. It was one that rivaled or exceeded the healthcare systems that all the other developed nations had. It gave Americans the best of medical care and did it at about half the cost of the previous, outdated, extremely costly system that was in place.
The new America adopted compulsory, or mandatory, voting such as Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Argentina, and 7 other nations had done. America’s record of voting was so pitiful, so pathetic, that it threatened the continuation of our democracy and that could not be tolerated.
 
The vast military empire located across the world was significantly scaled back. It is still the most powerful military in the world but it will no longer be used to intimidate and control other nations. It is largely defensive in nature but one that can act with a great deal of power very quickly.
 
All lobbyists, including those of the NRA, are now banned from the Congress and can have no contact with any of its members. They are free to use various forms of communications to try to advance their interests but nothing else. Members of Congress are to be guided by what is right for our country and its people.
 
Corporate campaign contributions are also banned and the Citizens United decision that allowed a massive flood of money to flow into our election system has been reversed. Only contributions from individuals will be allowed. There will be no need for large sums of money to fuel campaigns because the time period involved with all elections is a great deal shorter, as has been the case in other nations for a very long time.
 
Congress created stringent gun controls; all assault, military-style weapons are now banned. Various commissions were appointed to look into this tragic situation involving mass shootings and they came up with logical, reasonable measures to stop the carnage. The incidence of mass shootings is way down. We no longer see civilians and helpless children being gunned down. This society is now much more civilized.
 
Congressional term limits are in effect. Senators are limited to 2 terms and House members to 4 terms; something that should have been done years ago.  
 
Climate change and the development of solar power are now top priorities. We now have leaders and members of Congress who no longer ignore the threat of climate change to the planet.
 
Yes, America, in this year of 2050, is in the midst of a modern-day Age of Enlightenment, one based on the use of reason that has resulted in a dramatic reversal of this country’s former precipitous decline. This is a new America, one that once was destined for greatness and found the ways to achieve it.
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Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.
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