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Now is the time to radically re-imagine America, to not just reform the Republic, or attempt to go back to Pre-November 2016. It is not time to look back at past progressive movements or initiatives. We have to look forward, to build a vision a reality of what can be, of what we should be. To be bold, to be courageous, to say we can and will be more than what we are and have been.

It’s not about leftist politics or policies … be a vision of who we are. Do we truly value humanity, personal freedom and self-determination? Do we truly value the freedom that investing in public spaces give us, public spaces like housing, water, health care, and education? Do we say these things are not entitlements, but rights all those living in this nation, and world, are afforded because they exist?

Can we reimagine who we are? To build anew? To look beyond the unfulfilled promises of our declarations, the vestigials of our past. Do any of our current leaders have the will and the courage to embrace such a vision, one that puts humanity above self-interests? That embraces the collective good.

See it’s not about big government or small government, but one that creates the space for an individual, a family, to not have to work to die, with the hopes of living in between. That creates a society that someone living and growing up in rural Wisconsin doesn’t have to travel an hour to go to school, and knows they have the resources that Middleton High School has. That knows that if they want to, they can go to the “big city” in Madison and continue their education. But also knows that if they wish to stay in their hometown, they will have the same opportunity to live, to grow a family, to travel elsewhere if they wish, and find their true selves.

We need to strive to be a nation and a people that creates a society where someone growing up in Milwaukee no longer has “low-income” neighborhoods, that their housing is secure and theirs, knows their drinking water is clean, that there are resources in their neighborhood from food, to parks, to access to the rest of the city. They don’t have to bus 40 minutes to go to a good school that has resources like Middleton High School, a school that isn’t prepping them for prison. A family that knows they can send their child off to college and not worry about expenses. That an individual can stay or go, and no matter what they choose has the freedom to not work to die, but the freedom to find their true selves.

A government that protects its citizens from officers that don’t. A government that protects its citizens from water runoff in farms poisoning rural water, that invests in energy resources that are clean, safe, and employs more people than the coal industry.

One that understands automation isn’t going away, and that we must prepare for the future. One that understands that we must re-envision a world where resources aren’t wasted away and seen as disposable, at the destruction of the environment that gives us life. But conserves that environment to the best of our abilities.

“As we move forward, do we attempt to grab hold of the lies of our past, or do we collectively declare and act upon the idea that we will instead grab hold of our courage to be more than what we are? We have only started to enter a new crisis of humanity. Do we rise to the challenge, or do we fail to embrace our humanity, as the planet and environment that made us lashes out at our own hubris?”

This is a new world where choosing your life, can be your truest self, as long as it’s not on the backs of others, and understanding that providing housing to all is the humane thing to do, the economic thing to do, the right thing to do.

Who among our leaders has the courage to stand and say this is what’s right and we must do it because it is right? To understand that all communities have struggles, but unique struggles, and to address those unique struggles isn’t ignoring others.

We must reimagine who we are, to look past the nation’s Founding Fathers and understand their flaws, and the Constitution’s flaws. It is not infallible, as we have seen these past months, and years. It is not a holy document, but one made by fallible men, who created a nation in their own image. It’s time to leave that vision behind, to create a new vision, one that doesn’t need to correct itself for declaring some humans 3/5ths a full human. One that doesn’t see the need to build off the backs and blood of others, but on the collective will of its people, and all are respected for the effort they put in to make a nation go. We must all see that we play a part in making the wheels turn, with unique needs of each community that willingly sacrificed or were forced to sacrifice to build this nation. To know those sacrifices were not in vain.

Perhaps nothing is more beholden to the idea of America than to imagine anew, to build anew. But this time, we must build anew not off the blood and graves of others, but on embracing our will to be more than what we are. We look back upon what has been called the greatest generation because of the willingness to look beyond the self, to know that serving the whole also serves the self. To rise together, to come together, to invest in one another. Did they do it perfectly? No. But they understood this.

We face a crisis of our time in climate change and a real Constitutional crisis, a nation who refuses to invest in public spaces and goods because health care, housing, food, education – the basics of creating a life free of the burden of basic survival – has been declared entitlements, and many in both of our political parties have fallen upon this inhumane idea.

The investment in public goods saves us from the worst of ourselves, from the worst of humanity. Not wholly, but mostly.

As we move forward, do we attempt to grab hold of the lies of our past, or do we collectively declare and act upon the idea that we will instead grab hold of our courage to be more than what we are? We have only started to enter a new crisis of humanity. Do we rise to the challenge, or do we fail to embrace our humanity, as the planet and environment that made us lashes out at our own hubris?

Written by Matthew Braunginn

Matthew Braunginn

Matthew Braunginn is a Madison native and civil rights activist.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Matt! Could you let me know the address to send my specifications for the house I’d like provided to me at no charge, as it’s my right? I have a minimum number of bedrooms/bathrooms, of course, and a preferred brand of central air/heat pump. I’d also like to live in certain ZIP codes, maybe 2 or three choices would be alright?

    Thanks much. This is going to be awesome.

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