Recent headlines mark how frightened we’ve become to reach for the very best for our nation and ourselves. I recall when I first heard of hope to make college affordable for all citizens. I was recently out of the Navy, inspired by a youthful vision. America had recently won a major war. I and others like me imagined one nation, one people, uniting to extend the American dream to every American, rich and poor alike. We wanted to end Jim Crow laws. We wanted to make America accessible to those with handicaps. We wanted poorer children to get a “head start” in education. Our vision for America was grand and inclusive. All we needed was funding, and, unselfishly, we willingly funded our vision with our taxes.
Recently, politicians tell us that Medicare will be gone if it’s not reduced, that we must exclude the poor, the infirm and the elderly from the American dream in order balance the books. Americans are being asked to choose between a compassionate vision and a dreary bookkeeping task. Have we forgotten in our fear that we can also balance the books by increasing revenue? Can we not fund a vision? Has the American dream shrunk so small?