What Kind of Country Do We Want?

Published: May 9, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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What are we doing to one another?

What’s happened to our sense of honesty and respect for each other?

Why must we tear apart the fabric of our democracy by fear, distrust and anger?

We live in a democracy where we are free to express our thoughts, our ideas, and vote for those we trust to lead us forward.

“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false,” Barack Obama cautioned, “then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition, our democracy doesn’t work.”

Real leaders know that truth is the bedrock of any democracy. They understand that hard decisions–even those that fly in the face of their constituents’ wants–requires them to lead with the conscience, commitment, and courage necessary to move the country forward.

As Lincoln stood in Gettysburg Pennsylvania making that consequential address commemorating the dead from a Civil War that closely parallels our own today, he defined democracy as being a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and concluded that it “shall not perish from the earth.”

In the greatest division since the Civil War, our democracy is at risk of perishing.

“Optimism comes less easily today,” Ronald Reagan said, “not because democracy is less vigorous but because democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because, day by day, democracy is proving itself to be a not-at-all fragile flower. . . still, it needs cultivating. If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy.”

Oprah Winfrey has a quote that articulates the actions we must take to ensure our growth: “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

We can’t become what we need to be by clinging to fear and anger.

We can’t move forward without accountability to truth.

If we can begin by being more respectful of others, and honest with ourselves and others despite our differences, we can become what America needs to be.

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