I want my America back

By James Richard Johnson
Special to the Reader

I want my America back! I grew up in the Midwest in the 1950s and want back the America that stood for what I believed to be all about the good things that democracy stands for, which includes people voting for their best leaders who stand for the same beliefs that common but civilized humans believe in. Our nation was created so we would never be ruled by kings or armies or tyrants.

I want other nations of the world to look at my country as one that will come to their aid if they are in danger of being overthrown by armies of other nations trying to take away their lands or religions or governments. I want to be proud again to say the Pledge of Allegiance and, if necessary, to give my life for a good cause if it meant helping save all the beliefs and ideas that our democracy offers.

I now talk with people in my own country who don’t respect our politicians, the very people we elect. If so, what has become of our very nation itself? I have talked with friends who would not feel comfortable traveling anywhere outside of the U.S. with the American flag on their shirt or suitcase and I feel outrage! What shall I tell the souls of the hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their very existence on this planet during the two World Wars, and their children and their children’s children?

I believe I see the cause of many of the problems our beloved homeland now faces: our two party system has been corrupted by money. It has gotten to the point, decade after decade, that it costs so much money to get elected that an independent — even one with great ideas — has no chance of being elected. Moreover, members of Congress are so afraid of not getting money from their party for reelection that they are in fear of voting against party lines.

Even if a charismatic independent candidate promised to hire the best experts from the best universities to serve in his or her cabinet and only listen to the best military leaders, and our ambassadors around the world presented a platform that the majority of citizens felt would be good for our nation and the world, their lack of money would cause them to be trampled by the money and power of the two party system. In this scenario, both parties would likely work together to defeat such a candidate.

This is not a call for revolution. This is a strong call for a candidate, whether Republican or Democratic, to stand up against their own power brokers and say, “enough is enough.” The people want a change and they don’t accept voting like sheep along party lines. 

I believe Americans believe in helping the poor, no matter where they live, and trying to get medical care to everyone, even if they cannot afford it. We respect all religions, want to help save this planet for those not yet born and we want to stop the practice of humans killing humans.

From our smallest weekly newspapers up to major city publications, editors have the ability and a duty to involve their readers in an ongoing dialogue involving important events of the moment. National topics should be reported and the responses including polls and letters to the editor should be encouraged. Perhaps a resurgence of small circulation papers is in the offing. Many people do not trust the internet.

I served in 1968 and 1969 as a U.S. Army correspondent/photographer in Vietnam and I tell everyone we won that damn war. We prevented both China and Russia from gaining a foothold in that nation. I also say I love the Vietnamese, for I have never seen nor read about a people who were so forgiving to a country that killed so many of its people. But, wait. I almost left out that beautiful, intellectual and forgiving nation which also has such great respect for its elders: Japan.

All of us must decide if we want less national parks or more, if we want to let our nation support land mines or not. We all have input about offshore drilling, carbon emissions and a host of other life-changing decisions that presently we do not have a choice to vote on. I believe we all desire this nation to be respected for our freedoms by all other nations.

We owe it to every person who has given their life in wars to preserve this country and all it stands for. I want my America back.

James Richard Johnson was a reporter for United Press International, Chicago Bureau in 1970. He was also a reporter for the Steamboat Pilot in Steamboat Springs, Colo., where he resided from 1965 to 1990. A resident of Clark Fork, he is the author of a poetry book, Poems by Rushing Water… Smoothing Glass and Stone to Sand, and an American college novel,It is the Fall: The Lost Journal from Colorado, both available from Amazon. He has spent the past 30 years across the lake from Sandpoint.

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