Valley Voices

A Marine veteran asks, ‘Isn’t it time to say Good Morning America to each other again?’

What has happened to America? Fresno businessman Richard A. Johanson writes, ‘Rancor, ridicule and scorn have replaced dignity, validity and outreach as the qualifiers for resolving differing political viewpoints.’
What has happened to America? Fresno businessman Richard A. Johanson writes, ‘Rancor, ridicule and scorn have replaced dignity, validity and outreach as the qualifiers for resolving differing political viewpoints.’ AP file

One of the often unspoken rewards of being a Marine Corps veteran of World War II is to strive to help ensure that the ultimate sacrifices made by all of those who have served our nation were not made in vain. At the same time, one of my great sorrows is realizing how far short we have fallen from attaining some of these dreams.

What happened to our dreams of a representative democracy?

What happened to our aspirations of becoming a nation without poverty?

What happened to our commitment to an educational system that ensured that all young people would enter the adult world equipped to pursue a productive life?

When did our best and our brightest decide that personal ambition and a life of ease were more important than leading their community and our nation?

Is our nation engaged in a deep slumber hoping that its long-held dreams will one day come true without the enlightened, highly skilled and informed among us stepping up to serve?

Education of our young people, for example, has become a divisive rather than a unifying state and national issue. Legitimate questions face those involved in our educational system. How much of our tax money should we spend on education and at what levels? What should be the primary blend of our K-14 educational system? Should it be academic knowledge or vocational preparation, and in what proportion? How do we ensure that those living at all economic levels have equal educational opportunities? These and others are legitimate questions that need to be resolved through mediation among the educational providers, elected officials and citizens.

In recent years we have witnessed a major schism arise within our cherished system of government. Extremists on either side of the political spectrum are attempting to force-feed us their polarized positions. Rancor, ridicule and scorn have replaced dignity, validity and outreach as the qualifiers for resolving differing political viewpoints. To what extent are our legislators fragmented by single interests and overly influenced by major campaign funders? Emerging communication technologies have allowed instant media access to those who place personal attention ahead of collaborative legislation.

My father’s parents came to this country with their four young children from Sweden a little over 100 years ago. Today more than 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in this country These men, women and children are no different in their aspirations than my grandparents were. They came to this place to improve their lives and the lives of those who will follow them.

Underscoring the importance of resolving the immigration issue is accepting the reality of the need for unskilled labor that still exists today in many areas of our workforce. The ultimate irony is that without their presence among us too many who depend upon them as minimum-wage employees would be suffering their own economic hardship.

Our Blessed country needs to rediscover its heritage. We need to rededicate ourselves to becoming a nation serving all among us, not just those philosophical extremists on either side of our political spectrum. Our democracy is not based upon exclusions but upon inclusions. It must be led by CEO-type stewards dedicated to ensuring that all sectors of this nation are aligned behind the same goals. Out of this culture will emerge a vibrant revitalized democracy of unity and purpose.

The voting populace of the United States of America needs to focus increased attention upon our expected standards of performance by those whom we entrust with legislative leadership. Our public servants must reach out to each other and mediate areas of differing opinions. Our public servants must utilize their combined wisdom to arrive at collaborative solutions to complex issues. Our public servants must discontinue using their positions to devise political strategies to attack those with whom they disagree.

Isn’t it time for all of us to be able to say “Good Morning America” to each other once again?

Richard A. Johanson is chair emeritus of the Fresno Business Council and founder of Johanson Transportation Service.

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