Gamechangers: A Call to Action, Call to Civility
by Daiyaan Colbert
We have been reduced to name calling and cable news theatre and have been more concerned with saving face than saving the American people.
The land of the free and the home of the brave. America. The country that said white men should not need to own property in order to vote, and that blacks would be recognized as human beings and not merely 3/5 of a person. The country that said the consent of the governed trumps all. We are the country who said women should be able to vote. Monumental? Yes. Unique? Well, perhaps. Today, in Saudi Arabia, in the year 2012, women not only do not possess the right to vote, they also are assigned a male guardian for life.
America has proven that it is the beacon for inspiration and the model for innovation. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said this was the greatest country on Earth, however, I also wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said our nation is facing a bevy of critical social and economic challenges that must be addressed soundly and swiftly.
There are real questions needing to be addressed, such as determining how we will educate our children in a way that prepares them to compete with their global peers. America ranks 14th out of 34 nations in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These numbers are absolutely abysmal and are cause for dire alarm. And year after year, our students continue to drop in critical rankings, and our way of teaching students continues to become more inept. As a nation, we deserve a failing grade for not taking this seriously. The fact that teachers can remain in the classroom because of their seniority even when their students are not succeeding is a problem that we have not been loud enough about. If you owned a business and one of your employees was not producing or doing the job they were supposed to, would you keep them around for long? Presumably not. So why should our school systems be any different? Why are we paying teachers who aren’t getting the job done?
We are to blame for not paying enough attention, and for failing to stand up for our children and make education a priority. Every single one of us, parents, students, ordinary Americans, are all to blame.
And with that, even more real challenges face us, including, bringing down our nation’s deficit in a way that promotes growth and sustainability, developing comprehensive immigration reform, and getting our country energy independent.
But surrounding all these challenges is a large group of politicians, who are well, being politicians and not public servants. In a country where it’s forefathers said what unites us is greater than what divides us, our political institutions and the people they govern are being stymied by vitriolic dialogue and a fear to challenge the status quo. Legislators won’t govern because it is an election year. Many of them, convinced the best way to win is to not do their jobs are only making progress a near impossibility. As newly minted Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said over the weekend, we need politicians “worried about the next generation, and not the next election.”
We have been reduced to name calling and cable news theatre and have been more concerned with saving face than saving the American people. The tone of many commentators and politicos in our nation is at times hateful, and is undoubtedly fueled by self-serving interests and a need to promote agendas that have nothing to do with what is best for our country.
And that is why the American people cannot remain silent anymore. It’s time to kick the apathy habit and it’s time to change the game. It’s time for Americans to stand up and say to our politicians that they work for us and we do not work for them. The reason America remains stagnant and appears to be headed in the wrong direction is not because of a “lack of ideas,” as President Obama recently noted, it’s because there is a deficit of leadership. Pair that deficit of leadership with our electorate’s lack of basic understanding about how government works and ignorance about current events, and this leads to the society we live in now; dominated by lies, bias, and corporate greed. The halls of our political offices are dominated by special interests and unchecked corruption. But until Americans realize this reality, and then decide to actually do something about it, we’ll be playing the same old games, while our country suffers because of it.
Daiyaan Colbert is a junior, majoring in Public Service and Public Policy, and is the Web Content Editor for the College of Public Programs. You can reach Daiyaan on Twitter @ dcolbert101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.