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Reader Commentary: A positive vision for our country

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Andy Schmookler

By Andy Schmookler

I've spoken often against the threat that I see to all that has made America great. And I've addressed many nuts-and-bolts issues that affect our district, including jobs and the budget and healthcare.

Now I want to speak to the vision of the America I am fighting for.

In some ways, it's the America I grew up in.

I am fighting for an America where the government plays a role in creating a vibrant middle class - as it did after World War II by providing educational opportunities for returning war veterans and by creating a more level playing field for workers and the great corporations that employ them.

I am also fighting for an America where our political leaders come together on the basis of the values that we share, liberals and conservatives alike, to achieve our common purposes.

Part of America's greatness has always been that we have been guided by a vision of our best possibilities.

More than 70 years ago, a great American president --Franklin D. Roosevelt -- articulated such a vision. "I see an America..." FDR called out in a speech, and then he gave an eloquent recital of the qualities of the America he was working to foster.

"I see an America," FDR said, "where no businessman can be stifled by the harsh hand of monopoly..."

I join him in supporting a market economy where there is fair competition because the government plays a role in keeping the giant corporations from abusing their power.

I see an America where factory workers are not discarded after they reach their prime, where there is no endless chain of poverty from generation to generation...

I share FDR's concern that average Americans be treated fairly. And I share his determination that America be a land of opportunity, raising up a people with initiative and the ability to better their condition.

"I see an America of great cultural and educational opportunity for all its people."

I support his vision that there is no more important investment for a healthy society than in the development of the potential of its people. And I share his sense that man does not live by bread alone.

"I see an America," FDR continued, "whose rivers and valleys and lakes - hills and streams and plains - ...are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people."

I share his understanding that our natural environment is not merely a means to the end of anyone's private enrichment but belongs to us all and warrants our protection.

Now let me share some of my own vision.

I see an America where our citizens are secure about getting the healthcare they need without fear of being bankrupted.

I see an America where people care as much about doing what's right as about getting what they want, where corporations care about the country and not just their own profits, and where the media care about their effect on people's minds and souls, and not just their ratings.

I see an America that honors scientifically established fact, and where neither corporate powers nor political parties try to deceive people about truths important to their future.

I see an America where the young are educated to be productive, but also to become fully developed, whole human beings.

I see an America that leads world civilization toward a time when the genocide in Rwanda and the rape-camps in Bosnia cannot happen, because the world is organized to stop such horrors. And an America that leads toward a time when humankind lives in harmony with our planet, and the health of life on earth is growing stronger rather than deteriorating.

And perhaps the starting place for a better America lies here: in the America I grew up in, we had a sense that we were on a path of continual improvement, and a determination to strive along that path. We lost that. I want it back.

We should always be asking ourselves, "What do we want America to be like generations hence?" and be working always to find ways to make it so. If one approach doesn't work, we Americans should try another.

Without a vision to strive toward, we cannot even maintain the status quo.

As it says in the Bible (Proverbs 29:18), "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

Andy Schmookler is running for Virginia's 6th Congressional District.

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