Embracing Our Wokeness

The United States of America was born out of a period in world history often referred to as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a cultural and intellectual movement that began in Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Also known as the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment emphasized the importance of reason and scientific inquiry and had a profound impact on our founders and founding documents.

Our founders, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington, fully embraced science and the pursuit of knowledge as they crafted our founding documents and began building imperfect institutions that our politics have sought to improve from the beginning. As a result, both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are full of Enlightenment ideals: reason, natural laws and rights, democracy, checks and balances, free speech, a free press, individual rights, and the separation of church and state.

The word “woke” is derived from the word “awake” which means “awake from sleep.” If the charge from the Right today is that a large swath of our population is no longer asleep, but is rather “woke,” then we should embrace our “wokeness” as it is completely consistent with what the Founders had in mind for us. Perhaps we might understand those who deride our “wokeness” as “the still asleep”?

Certainly, the current crop of political demagogues in the US is hoping to ensure that “the still asleep” don’t wake up and realize that they have been deceived, gaslighted, and exploited by a political movement that, at its roots, is based upon the denial of facts, an aversion to reason, science and knowledge, with a corresponding lack of respect for the political, economic, and educational institutions in the US.

Our institutions are today under attack from those who would take us backward to a darker time in human history. We should stand with our founding fathers and embrace being “woke” (awake and enlightened) to the possibilities that are before us today to strengthen democracies around the world and to embrace the institutions put in place to make possible life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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Inflection Point: Our Great American Challenge

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, we find ourselves at a time of great opportunity. We can communicate without boundaries, fabricate virtually anything we can imagine and even change our DNA. We have all of human history and knowledge at our fingertips and yet we are frighteningly in danger of falling victim to fear, hatred, bigotry, genocide, with homicides and suicides in dizzying numbers.

We face a changing climate that threatens the lives and well-being of literally billions of human beings. Reason dictates that we make fundamental changes in the way we live. Climate friendly policies based upon science are not a threat to liberty and yet disinformation being spread by climate science deniers finds an audience in our polity. In the U.S. and elsewhere we find people divided with radically divergent world views, seemingly even differing views of reality, and very different understandings of the role that science and reason can and should play in our future.

Answers can be found in our roots as a nation. The Enlightenment that took place from roughly 1650 to 1830 was a time that prompted the use of reason, the scientific method, and progress. The United States of America grew out of enlightenment thinking. Spreading throughout the new world and Europe, the use of reason centered politically on the advancement of ideals such as liberty, tolerance, constitutional government and the separation of church and state. All of these are under assault today.

We need to draw a clear line in the sand if we are to avoid sliding even further into chaos. Science is not the enemy of a free people. Science and the rational action that flow from facts are what has enabled our Civilization to make hundreds of years of progress. We stand today at an inflection point no less profound than that confronted by our nation’s founders. We must find the courage and strength to push back against those who would use fear, hatred and bigotry to send us hurtling into a dark future that could potentially eclipse many of the darkest days of our past.

So what does an enlightened future look like from where we are today, and how does the American experiment in self-governance find a path on which reason prevails? The targets of opportunity for rational problem solving are numerous and clear and can be most easily understood in decidedly American terms: freedom from poverty and food insecurity, universal health care, climate remediation, tolerance and religious freedom, and a return to the rule of law and constitutional order. Approaches may vary but it is essential that we find ways to communicate with one another, focus and agree on desired outcomes.

The recent 2020 elections represent the beginning of a long road back for our American democracy. Will we overcome the politics of hate, division and personal destruction? Will we reject false equivalencies, agree on the facts and allow reason to prevail? The choice has never been clearer. The forces of darkness are using disinformation to stoke fear and create the false narrative that our elections don’t matter. The truth is that the choice we face is an existential one. Daunting sure, but we can choose civility over conflict. We can choose uniting as Americans over partisanship and tribalism. We can choose scientific answers over political ones, and we can choose the fundamental truth embodied in the words of our founders: that we are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among those being Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We can choose in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln to follow our better angels. Together, leaving no group of our fellow humans behind.

As individuals, families, communities and as a nation, we are at the point of no return. There is no turning back. Only forward. We face unparalleled challenges in this time. The open question is: who will we choose to become, as Americans?

Jonathan Cykman, EzineArticles Diamond Author

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UnitedAmericans Launched To Bring Us Together As Americans

Something different is happening this 4th of July. A transformational strategy is being launched to fill the growing void between us as Americans. UnitedAmericans.com went live at 3pm today, committed to using new and innovative technologies that will empower us to come together as citizens of the United States of America.

Too much of what passes for political discourse in the US today is limited to the ideological battle between progressives and liberals on one side and conservatives and Tea Party activists on the other. The challenges before us as a nation demand that we re-commit to the idea of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We need to put down all our ideology-based positions and find real solutions to the real problems that face tens of millions of Americans.

Too many Americans remain unemployed, record numbers are in poverty, too many are hungry, and too many go without health care in our great nation. The world-class infrastructure left to us by previous generations of Americans is crumbling. Our children are falling behind because of failing schools, and the cost of higher education is leaving so many with crushing student loan debt, and leaving many more out completely.

We need to restart the American dialogue about what kind of country we want to live in. There is a role for everyone. And it all starts with you and me, and as many of our 315 million fellow Americans as we can convince to join us.

Log onto UnitedAmericans.com and “Subscribe” for further information!


Get in on the future of a united American citizenry. Let’s not let this nation-building opportunity pass us by!

Jonathan Cykman, EzineArticles Diamond Author

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Honoring the American Worker – 2011

As we honor the American Worker on this Labor Day 2011, those of us who work for a living in these United States of America are increasingly uneasy about the direction of our country. For good reason. Stagnant incomes and economic instability have continued to be a fact of life as the nation works its way through what has been the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans are unemployed — record numbers for longer and longer periods of time — and many millions more are working for far less income than they used to. Meanwhile, our elected officials in Washington, DC appear unwilling or unable to help Americans get back to work.

The hard truth is that businesses are not hiring more workers because they don’t need them, or in some industries because they can’t find workers with the skills they need. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans today control about 40 percent of the assets in our country, and have increasingly become wealthy without investing in people or producing anything. Wealth in the US during the last decade has been created largely through investment in financial assets, not in people or in productive assets.

The issue of the role of government is central here both in economic and political terms. Neither of our political parties have been proposing comprehensive solutions. They can’t even agree on the nature of the problem.

Tea Party Republicans are making the argument that the threat of marginally higher taxes or changes in regulation is what’s keeping businesses from hiring. The reality is that businesses have had to deal with the uncertainty of tax and regulatory policy for generations. President Clinton put limits on spending and raised marginal tax rates and 22 million American jobs were created. The link between marginal tax rates and job creation is iffy at best.

The question of regulation is trickier because sometimes federal, state, or local regulation of economic activity can have an impact on business decision-making. The answer is not however that less regulation is always better. Most Americans agree that we need clean air and clean water. We need orderly financial markets. We need to keep Americans safe as they travel by land, sea, and air, and safe from products that harm our health. The answer then is not unregulated markets but instead, thoughtfully and carefully regulated markets. This question of regulation is way too complex to be decided based upon simple-minded political ideology.

The greatest impediment to putting Americans back to work is the lack of demand for goods and services. The near collapse of world financial markets, and ongoing turmoil in those markets, has significantly curtailed demand in the US. We literally saw trillions of dollars in assets disappear as the bubble burst in US home prices, and the financial house of cards built upon supposedly safe “mortgage-backed securities” collapsed. The financial collapse crippled the flow of capital and credit to businesses and individuals, reduced incomes as millions of workers got laid off, and millions more lost buying power as home prices and financial markets experienced steep declines.

The American workforce collectively faces a multifaceted problem. We have too many workers unemployed, underemployed, and experiencing profound economic insecurity. Too many workers are facing foreclosure and tens of millions of homeowners throughout the US have lost equity in their homes. Mortgages that are underwater make it difficult for the unemployed and underemployed to move to where the jobs are. Too many American children are dropping out of high school and not enough of us are going to college and graduate school, especially for advanced study in subjects such as Math, Science and Engineering. Too many Americans are simply becoming expendable in the new global economic order. And it’s a problem that affects all of us.

So as we ponder America’s future on this Labor Day, how do we make sense of the state of the American worker? Is the future really that bleak? The answer is no — unless we believe it is so. We need to increase demand for American made goods, and services provided by American workers. To be more competitive, we need to invest in educating our workforce, and we need to rebuild our energy and transportation infrastructures. And we need to find creative ways to stabilize home prices.

As Americans, we need to come to our senses and stop listening to those who would have us find scapegoats for what ails us. We need to hold those who would be our leaders to a higher standard. It’s time to find specific solutions to the very real issues we confront as a nation. We need to begin rewarding hard work and responsibility again, and stop rewarding greed. We need to reflect on what we can do as a nation to rebuild an America that we can proudly leave to our children and to the generations that follow. We need on this Labor Day to begin again the work of rebuilding our country together, as Americans.

Jonathan Cykman, EzineArticles.com Diamond Author

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Republicans Threaten the American Economy

The greatest source of uncertainty facing the American economy has been, and continues to be, Republican/Tea Party threats related to funding government and raising the debt ceiling.

To listen to the Republicans, the Obama adminstration is creating uncertainty in our economy that is deterring private sector job creation.  It’s the government’s fault — by way of government overreach in the form of taxes that are too high, regulation that is strangling the private sector, and President Obama’s government takeover of health care in America.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone afraid to hire workers because of a few percent increase in marginal tax rates probably shouldn’t be hiring anyone anyway.  Regulation intended to protect the American people from environmental pollution and financial fraud and malfeasance will only inhibit job creation by major polluters and white collar criminals.  And the Obama health care law when fully enacted in 2014 will if anything bring a little competition into the health insurance industry and help stabilize health insurance premiums.

While they do need to be able to predict their costs, employers need even more to have confidence that consumers and other businesses will create sufficient demand for the goods and services they produce.  Economic demand for goods and services is the only real driver of job creation.

Republican propaganda notwithstanding, government bailouts and deficit spending saved the economy by propping up demand.  Without the intercession of the Federal Reserve, and the bailouts and economic stimulus by the Bush and Obama administrations in 2008 and 2009, the United States would probably have led the world into a second Great Depression.  And this second Great Depression would likely have by far exceeded the first in terms of human suffering.

The biggest drags on the economy and job creation have without any doubt been Republican threats to shut down the government and to force the government to default on its financial obligations. Republicans and their tea party allies are playing a game of chicken with nothing less than the full faith and credit of the United States. The American people better wake up, or they might one day find themselves living through not just a great depression, but the collapse of capitalism. 

Purposefully forcing the government into default by failing to raise the debt ceiling would amount to nothing less than treason.

Jonathan Cykman, EzineArticles.com Diamond Author

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Ending Roosevelt’s New Deal

The anti-government rhetoric of the Republican Party and their Tea Party allies is rapidly coming into focus.  Their increasingly radical agenda is no less than to roll the clock back to the early 1930s, to the days before the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the “New Deal” social policies that were put in place to save capitalism.

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The Looming Republican Recession

Apparently, Republicans are so hell bent on returning to power that they are willing to push the economy back into a recession to do so. Let’s hope the American people come to understand just how misguided and dangerous the Republican and Tea Party debt ceiling threats are. And let’s hope that happens soon.

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To Form A More Perfect Union

The United States Constitution begins with the words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

The first three Articles of the Constitution then outline the rules by which we will govern ourselves, with Articles I, II, and III establishing the legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch, respectively.

Our founders in this way established a system of governance, with checks and balances, that requires cooperation and compromise. In order to carry out the nation’s business, two legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate, made up of representatives from every state, must first come to an agreement between those two bodies, and then receive the approval of the President, who is chosen by the people in a national election.

The Constitution itself is the only ideology we Americans need. It contains the rules that we have over the course of more than two centuries agreed to follow in attaining the highest aspirations of our nation: “a more perfect Union … Justice … domestic Tranquility … the common defence … the general Welfare … the Blessings of Liberty”.

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Tea Party Extortion

When the initial threat of a federal government shutdown was averted earlier this month, the Republican/Tea party game plan was revealed for what it was, high stakes political extortion.  In threatening to shut down federal government operations, the Republican/Tea Party put at risk the livelihood of about 800,000 federal workers and their families, with millions more Americans potentially impacted by a government shutdown.

What was extorted was an additional $38 billion in federal spending cuts this year that will cost jobs in what has been so far an anemic economic recovery.   But the stakes are much higher going forward.  Threats to put the U.S. government into default by refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling are a much more serious matter.   Even the threat of default could put the stability of our economy in jeopardy, and put at risk many millions of American jobs.

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Talking Down America

American right-wing conservatives really should be ashamed of themselves. In their efforts to regain the White House and the Congress, opposition leaders have crossed the line over and over again since President Obama took office. They have opposed the President at every turn. They opposed the Recovery Act that saved millions of jobs, bailouts for American automakers that saved millions of jobs, and financial system reforms intended to curb the excesses of a financial industry that almost took down the entire world’s financial system.

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