The worst part about the past election season was the daily reminder of the deep and complex problems facing our nation that seemed insurmountable.
It brought us down and we are sure it brought you down.
We wondered on more than one occasion: What has happened to our country?
What we need more than ever is leadership.
That needs to start with President Obama, but it doesn’t end there, and it won’t mean anything unless there are others who are leaders, too; Republicans and Democrats willing to put country and constituents first without an eye on the next election.
We need leaders in both houses of Congress, we need them in Albany and we need them in our own communities fighting for solutions.
It was encouraging this week to hear Speaker of the House John Boehner speak in a conciliatory manner the day after the election.
“Mr. President, this is your moment,” Boehner said Wednesday. “We want you to lead.”
By saying those simple words, Boehner was leading, too, and giving us all hope for the first time in years.
“Let’s find common ground that has eluded us,” Boehner said. He spoke of addressing the federal budget with solutions that included spending cuts, new taxes and addressing social benefits programs.
That type of proposal seemed unthinkable just a week ago and it came less than 24 hours after President Obama promised in his victory speech to reach out to Republicans and work for the greater good of our country.
Could it really be that easy?
We suspect it will be difficult to find that common ground, and by Friday, Boehner seemed to be backtracking on his earlier statements, but maybe the first baby steps have been taken. We all have to be better citizens and hold our leaders accountable. We need to be willing to let them compromise.
In that spirit, we call for our political leaders, in the grand tradition of the American dream, to think big, to reach high, be bold and make our country one we all can be proud of in the future.
Here are a few grand gestures we would like to see immediately:
We need a moon moment
Just as John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land on the moon before the decade is out in the 1960s, Barack Obama needs to challenge the auto makers to build a car — before this decade is out — that will get 100 miles a gallon.
An iEnergy system
In the great spirt of Apple and Steve Jobs, the federal government should offer up a $1 billion prize to the first business, entrepreneur or corporation that can come up with a workable patent for a hydrogen car or alternative energy system to heat our homes. iPads are cool, but an iEnergy system could change the world.
It’s climate change
Flanked by Republican and Democratic leadership on each side of him, the president should stand up in the Rose Garden — in the middle of a November blizzard like this past week, if possible — and immediately declare a world emergency because of climate change. He should call for all civilized nations of the world to put aside their differences, gather immediately with the greatest scientists to address the problem. The evidence is irrefutable, but even if you don’t believe the data, is it really worth rolling the dice on your grandchildren’s future? We cannot be wrong on this issue. It it not a political issue, but an environmental problem. Our nation responds best when challenged during a crisis and this is a crisis. The 100-year storm is now an annual event.
War is hell
We are on a path to withdraw from Afghanistan in a couple years, but that is not good enough. We’d like to see the president, Congress and the joint chiefs all acknowledge Afghanistan is not a real country, but a lawless wasteland with no value to anyone. Let’s get our troops home before another drop of American blood is spilled.
Back away from the cliff
Every bipartisan panel or commission that has ever studied the government’s debt has come to the conclusion only a combination of spending cuts and tax increases (in this case to the richest 2 percent) can help get the growing debt under control. Speaker Boehner has hinted Republicans are ready to compromise. Do it now.
With an aging baby boomer population, we will need Social Security more than ever and it is unsustainable in its current form. Raise the retirement age to 67 for every citizen under the age of 45 and that will give the program decades of additional life. Hey, you were going to live longer anyway, you might as well be doing something productive.
Moon moment II
Challenge the medical research community to cure cancer by the end of the decade. The money previously used for the war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq will be diverted to scientific research.
The election is over. Obamacare is the law and will not be repealed. Both sides agree it needs fixing, so start doing it now. We won’t get there today or tomorrow, but maybe in a decade if we start now. No citizen should ever be without health care when they are sick.
For all those hypocrites with gray suits and red ties who wear American flag pins, it is time to start acting American instead of acting Republican or Democrat. We need Congress to do the work of the people. If the leadership of both parties is not willing to compromise, it should immediately resign. Time for new blood. We need to get America moving.
Be American, Part II
The Republican Party is gong to be facing a lot of defeats like the one it suffered Tuesday night if it does not broaden its base and become a party that appeals to a wider group of people. The two-party system, with competing ideologies, has kept our country in balance for centuries because it forces compromise. Time for the Republicans to grow up and realize their very survival will depend on representing a broader base of Americans that are not just white males.
Be American, Part III
Each American needs a trip to the Statue of Liberty as a reminder of the melting pot of diversity that has made our country what it is today. Our country continues to evolve and we believe it is for the better. America is changing. Minorities and women have a place at the table. Gay marriage was voted into law by the people in two states this Election Day. Two other states voted to make marijuana legal. You may say the country is going to hell in a handbasket, but your grandparents might have said that about women working or getting the right to vote. Change is hard, but change is good.
Rip up the pledge
It is time for every politician who signed lobbyist Grover Norquist’s incredibly divisive pledge against “no taxes ever” to call a news conference and burn it. Nothing is absolute. There are exceptions to everything. Norquist’s pledge was a political gimmick that tried to limit elected representatives from thinking for themselves. If voters don’t approve of new taxes, they can use their vote to enact change. Nobody wants new taxes, but sometimes they are necessary.
Not all colleges are smart
Someone needs to immediately introduce legislation to close the Electoral College. The country would have been in turmoil for four years if President Obama had won the election, but not the popular vote.
We need to get our country moving. We need our leaders to think bold, to take chances, to always being doing what they believe to be in the best interest of our country and its people. We hope in the weeks and months to come our leaders dazzle us, challenge us and lead our country to greater heights. Just tell us what we have to do. We are ready to follow.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Mark Bergman.