The 2007 LA Times editorials—“American Values and the Next President”, collectively—provide a detailed sketch of where the United States is now with respect to the values that underline the creation of an American people. A “more perfect union” entails leaving customs and allegiance of the past behind while forging together many people from different lands of origin, culture and faith guided by multiracial tolerance and integration. It also calls for abandoning all forms of social and political hypocrisies as the Union strives for perfection even if it remains an ideal.
In “Life,” the definition of human life becomes an important contemporary issue not only because of the persisting debates on abortion and capital punishment but also because of the developments in human genetic modification. The results of the national elections will certainly influence the debates over the issues on human life as far as the individual’s constitutional right to life is concerned. “Liberty” highlights the excesses of the Bush administration which put the liberties of Americans at risk for the sake of fighting terrorism.
It suggests that the next president should not treat the liberties of the people as “collateral damage” for the government’s efforts to stop terrorist threats to homeland security. “Justice” points out that the executive branch should also try to continue to uphold the principle of equal justice before the law instead of solely relying on the judiciary. The next American president should see to it that the Department of Justice and the federal courts play an activist role in thwarting discrimination. The editorial emphasizes that Democratic presidential candidates are fit to fulfill that role than their Republican counterparts.
Despite the notable progress in practicing the value of Justice throughout the years, more remains to be done, which is why the next president has huge shoes to fill. In “Pursuit of Happiness,” vital issues with respect to government regulation in what is supposed to be the free enterprise system are scrutinized, namely: federal budget, tax code, workforce, value of the dollar, and social security. The next president faces the task of creating strategies through government policies that regulate the economy, depart from the style of the Bush administration and promote the individual pursuit to earn properties.
“Powers of the Earth” tackles environmental issues that, despite not being a major part during the Constitution’s framing, require the attention of Congress and the Presidency. The editorial, with the exception of a few Republicans, states that the positions and responses of Democrats are clearer and better than most Republicans on environmental issues. On the other hand, “Domestic Tranquility” ties together the issues of poverty, infrastructure and peace.
The editorial opines that sustaining America’s pride requires the next president to restore and create new infrastructures while advancing and guarding free trade for the benefit of the economy and of the poor, thereby achieving domestic peace. “The Common Defense” draws the line between acting positively out of ambition, idealism and creativity—exceptionalism—and acting negatively by exempting one’s self from common rules—exemptionalism. The article suggests that the next president should practice self-restraint and wisdom when defending America from threats coming from terrorist networks without compromising alliances and diplomacy.
Lastly, “The General Welfare” asserts that issues surrounding healthcare, education and immigration are linked, shaping the nation’s ability to promote general welfare. Thus, it is imperative for the next president to carefully address such issues because a sick and uneducated America dealing with illegal immigration problems can hardly ever be a productive America. The series of editorials rekindles the call for the restoration and promotion of American values that once created the nation.
With the national elections, hope and the prospects of a more perfect union remain alive. Personally, hopes of reliving the American Dream do not only resurge during national elections. Although the presidential elections provide insight on the immense possibilities that lay before this country, the times when America faces struggles of epic proportions also offer a glimpse of what the American Dream should be. In times of natural calamities, the American Dream is to mount a collective effort to rebuild while setting aside social and political differences.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for instance, teaches the lesson of unity and cooperation while giving people a glance of how the suspension of personal, social and political disparities can truly make America rise back to its feet. In times when alarms to national security land upon the country, the American Dream is to seize upon the golden opportunity of making America more secure from external threats without risking diplomacy through unrestrained and unwarranted persecution of those who are enemies only by nature of baseless suspicion coupled with heated emotions.
The sizeable damage of the 9/11 attacks indeed calls for the perpetrators to be brought before justice. Yet, at the same time, it does not solicit the wild abandon for more cruelty and injustice towards people on foreign shores whose only “sin” is to have been born to a different race or religion. Indeed, the fact that America is a multicultural land only demands no more and no less than tolerance and the careful handling of both domestic and international relations. The American Dream is summed up, thus: e pluribus unum—literally, out of many, one.
Out of many, there is only one hope for peace and unity. Out of many, there is only one hope for security. And in such multitude, there simply is no room for bigotry guised in the forms of religious, racial or political persecutions. At the least, the collective effort to rebuild especially during massive disasters and the efforts to attain unity amidst diversity during threats to national security enshrine part if not all of the American values discussed in the series of editorials. At best, they capture part of the essence of a more perfect union.
Clearly, life and liberty can hardly continue to prosper if America is unable to rebuild when stumbling upon a roadblock in whatever form. Life becomes difficult when the nation stumbles; no one becomes free to pursue her or his own happiness. Justice can also hardly be served to the average citizen if the American government itself is unable to practice and project justice towards other sovereign countries. Threats to national security raised the bar on the crackdown for illegal immigrants seen as potential state enemies.
While the aim is noble, ensuring America’s safety does not have to mean creating policies that basically discriminate based on race or religion. To discriminate in whatever form or degree further adds to the inequalities already present. Moreover, more focus on campaigns against terrorism—meaning, war—on foreign shores only drains America’s precious resources which could have been used to address issues that are far more threatening, global warming being chief of them. Regardless of religion and race, a united America in the clamor for peace and environmental protection can go as far as national resources can permit, perhaps even beyond.
The classic saying you only know what you have until it is gone best summarizes the connection between the American values discussed in the LA Times editorials and my personal version of the American Dream. Facing times of seemingly insurmountable national disasters, natural or man-made, we realize the need to enact the values that once helped create America. National elections also remind Americans that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain when electing the candidate who represents and is committed to enact the American values that made this nation great.
A More Perfect Union. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-union10dec10,0,6837580. story Domestic Tranquility. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-domestic26dec26,0,7243568. story Justice. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-justice14dec14,0,3982825. story Liberty. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-liberty14dec14,0,5822438. story Life. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes.
com/news/opinion/la-ed-life12dec12,0,4564448. story Pursuit of Happiness. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-happiness18dec18,0,4854426. story The Common Defense. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-defense27dec27,0,2489279. story The General Welfare. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-welfare28dec28,0,710619. story The Powers of the Earth. (2007). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-ed-earth20dec20,0,7174443. story