Ed McKinney

Ed McKinney

We have witnessed the poisoning of our American democracy drip by drip. We have seen and heard from those who have been attempting to destroy truth and trust in our democracy.

Some would say it was an organized conspiracy in an attempt to retain power by some elected individuals not faithful to their oath to protect and defend our constitution.

Our democracy has survived this latest attack. Democracy must never be taken for granted. It requires truth, trust and respect from all citizens. We all recognize that some of our problems as a country will still exist.

As a new beginning starts to unfold in the year of 2021, Americans should welcome the opportunity to fix our broken health care system and to restore confidence in our government’s use of science to help solve some of our most pressing health care problems.

All Americans should have equal access to affordable health care. It is not affordable when the premiums take more than half of your monthly income or the out-of-pocket expense in any given year is greater than your yearly income.

We will need to repair our global alliances with countries who have always worked together for the common good of all citizens in time of great need and to look for solutions that can work to reduce tensions among our foreign enemies. These are tough jobs for those chosen to lead in foreign affairs.

It is time to now recognize the racial bias/divide among many of our institutions that serve for the good of all people and to address those problems head-on with results that can provide equality to all citizens. Being a country divided over partisan politics or being racist serves no one. Racism and division erodes us, our society and our democracy.

The answers must come from cooperation from both sides working together to find an optimal formula to solve any problem locally as well as in our state and in our nation. After all, we are all citizens in the same country, no more, no less.

We can look forward to an economic program to address climate change and to make for the world’s population a better planet for everyone. Denial is not a solution. It is a distraction from the work that needs to be accomplished by individuals who are knowledgeable of the causes and suggested resolutions to make our climate better.

How many Americans need to suffer both financial and personal loss before we can begin to work together to make changes in our personal lives that will improve the climate from which we all depend?

Education is the tool that puts everyone on equal ground. When education is financially prohibitive, we will see a decline in every aspect of our daily lives as well as our Democracy.

Citizens in local communities have to engage in finding solutions to provide educational opportunities for everyone, including those in need. Poverty that continues from one family to the next generation of the same family can be eliminated when a community recognizes the good in all people. Our society can only flourish when everyone has inherited worth.

It is not necessarily elected officials who need to take the lead. There should be a swell of demand coming from citizens who elected these individuals that pressure leaders to find solutions to problems for the good of all citizens and not for a select few. Politics is about the mediation of differences.

We all understand the role large corporations play in our economy and for the good they can bring to our everyday life. However, it is not fair to the everyday citizen to pay more income taxes than a wealthy corporation. Some of our largest wealthy corporations pay zero income tax. That makes life more difficult for the average citizen who pays more.

The corporate tax cuts made in 2017 by Congress have never benefited the lowest wage earners either by increased minimum wages or helping those who live in poverty. Poverty numbers have grown.

The outcome can be found by a cooperating group of legislators working together on both state and national agendas. The state of Tennessee needs to address and fix a minimum wage law that places fairness to all who contribute to the economy and to provide growth to a community. Having no minimum wage law is not fair to those who work every day for the good of everyone in our community.

The current minimum wage law in the state of Tennessee is ridiculous. We can do better. It is a state and a national problem that is long overdue to be solved.

Our democracy survives when citizens have multiple levels of factual information provided by local, state and national news organizations and when everyone can recognize propaganda from whatever source. Social media does not provide factual information and those who depend on it should recognize that it is a poor source for real truthful information.

We should have learned from the Russian interference in our elections that the use of social media to manipulate and spread false information is dangerous to our survival as a democracy. Democracy works with a well-informed citizen.

Social media (tech companies) needs to be strong in regulating false information. The war of words can destroy us from within when citizens fail to follow the source before spreading false information.

Democracy survives when all citizens recognize their role in making this a more perfect union. It is now time for everyone to move forward in finding positive results to everyday problems that will improve the life of every American. When we lose our democracy, we also lose our freedom.

In his farewell address, September 7, 1796, George Washington said, “Government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.”

We all have a role to play in making our democracy work for all citizens.

Democracy depends on truth, trust and respect. Our democracy has survived multiple attacks and for that we should all be grateful.

Democracy must never be taken for granted.

Community Voices columnist Ed McKinney of Johnson City is a retired business educator.

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