2016: What are the issues at stake?

thomas_paine_portrait“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

– Thomas Paine

In our first editorial, we said “It’s not easy being a good citizen. It takes education, time, effort and vigilance. The rewards tend to be neither immediate nor gratifying and, in some instances quite costly.”

In 1776, Thomas Paine, like many of his fellow politicians and scholars, feared that the colonists were not going to support the American Revolutionary War. He began writing The American Crisis a series of pamphlets that he signed “Common Sense”. These writings attempted to clarify the issues at stake.

Two Hundred and Forty years later, the United States is at a pivot point, facing challenges more complex than at any time in our history. Some of us may have already voted, others may still be undecided, and a few may wonder whether their vote makes any difference. We think it does- now more than ever.

We begin with The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how do we need to respond. This is a borderless revolution that is driven by transformative technologies that are becoming embedded in our lives and globally impacting our societies and environments.

We invite you to read more by Klaus Schwab who wrote the article for the World Economic Forum. We invite you to add your comments to a robust discussion on how we can collaboratively engage to find solutions.

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.” – Klaus Schwab

Unfortunately, in this political campaign, we haven’t heard a lot about issues that will affect our families, our children and our children’s children in the next two decades during this campaign season. It is easier to talk about immigrants, walls, sexual aggression, temperament, and emails.

We think our federal budget, taxes, harnessing the private sector, productivity, infrastructure, health, reducing poverty, energy, climate, criminal justice reform, and diversity are some of the issues whose impact we need to understand.

So, we invite you to select several topics to explore in the What We’re Reading posts. In the Brookings Institute series of reports from Election 2016 and America’s Future, Brookings scholars have identified the biggest issues facing the country this election season, and are sharing the best individual ideas for how to address them.

We may not agree with all of them, but they are worth reading and considering. Today, Americans are in desperate need of leadership, compromise, and action not only on the part of our politicians but we the people if we are to continue as a strong, inclusive, prosperous Republic.

And finally, we consider the widening gap between stagnation and opportunity for progress that segments citizens of our country, as well as the growing distrust and cynicism that dominates our political governing system. There is a moral case for a fairer society in America and according to Bernard Crick “political activity is a type of moral activity”. We invite you to read, Peter Wehner” In Defense of Politics, Now More than Ever, and Eduardo Porter’s Richer but Not Better Off

As Stud Terkel said “hope dies last” – we are hopeful that those elected to serve on November 8th, understand that now is the time for them to govern, to work together and with us to address the challenges and the fears we face.

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This post was curated by the Citizen U Editorial Board.

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