When anyone of us resolves toward self-improvement, it can impact the lives of those we love. How much more impact can we have, if in the new year we work to recreate the future of this country we love, by resolving to take bold steps in a new direction in a new year?
In 2015 I will observe the 48th anniversary of my public career, which began when I was a 20-year-old candidate for city council. In that time, with the help of many, I have seen miracles occur, outcomes change, new directions taken when people courageously strive to challenge a seemingly unshakeable status quo, on matters both personal and public. I remember well years ago in Cleveland, when a powerful corporate establishment dictated the sale of a city's municipal electric system, yet through a long battle the heroic people of Cleveland, who I was proud to lead as Mayor, regained their rights, and our city's lights.
Today, our nation's government has been taken over by special interest groups and idealogues, who have rapidly distributed our nation's wealth upwards, built a national security state to protect its hold on power and wealth, involved America in destructive, unnecessary wars abroad, ignored the escalating violence at home, and broken the laws of our nation with impunity, while punishing those who expose their unlawfulness.
This New Year, let us, as President Lincoln once pleaded "highly resolve" and organize to recreate our nation, summoning the vision of the Founders' ceaseless quest, unfurled with the words, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...."
This is my New Year's vision for our nation:
1. Ensure a full employment economy by reclaiming control of our money system. The US Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, provided Congress with the money power. The monetary system was privatized in 1913 and handed over to private bankers. As a result, we have a debt-based economic system, at the expense of the many, for the profit of a few.
As a Congressman, after years of study, I introduced the NEED Act, which will reclaim our constitutional rights and change monetary policy to ensure full employment, decent wages, housing, healthcare, education, retirement security and a rebuilt infrastructure, without raising taxes. It can be done if we are willing to break the shackles of a falsely constructed economic, social and political reality, which condemns Americans to lives of poverty.
2. Reclaim our right to privacy. In 2001, I voted against the Patriot Act ...because I read it. In 2003, Rep. Ron Paul and I introduced a bill to repeal the Patriot Act, invoking Benjamin Franklin who warned, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Let 2015 be the moment when we confront the monstrous NSA, its illegal reach into our private lives, its promotion of self-censorship, and demand that Congress legislate to stop the NSA, once and for all, from treading on our 4th Amendment rights.
3. Make America a more peaceful place. On July 11, 2001, two months before 9/11, I was privileged to give language, form and structure to the hopes of the multitude of people who stand for peaceful societies. On that day, with support from across America, I brought forth a landmark bill to create a Department of Peace, to transform our approach to gun violence, gang violence, racial violence, police-community clashes, domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools, and violence against people based on their sexual orientation.
Let us, in these times of increased violence, restore the dream of "Domestic Tranquility" nourished by President Jefferson and others, and reach a new awareness, a new consensus, to rid our nation of the thinking that violence is inevitable, through supporting the effort, now carried forth by Rep. Barbara Lee.
4. Transform America's role in the world; focus on the needs of people here at home. The US has 662 bases in 38 foreign countries and has been involved militarily in over 100 nations. We have become entangled in wars for resources, wars for domination, wars for geo-political advantage, at a cost of trillions of dollars, driving the national debt and endangering the soul of our nation.
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"America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy," said President John Quincy Adams. Let 2015 be the year that we recreate at home an empire of democracy, a true citadel of freedom, and stop the plotting, the interventions, the wars, and the calamitous reach for world domination. This will require a concerted effort, to demand Congress and President Obama stop funding military build-ups, stop funding nuclear escalation, begin to disestablish the global US military empire and start taking care of things at home. Americans are ready.
My wife, Elizabeth, and I travelled to a dozen American cities recently and met with thousands of citizens who re-defined "National Security" in terms of human security - - jobs, health care, education, retirement security, safe communities and privacy.
5. Establish a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. America was led into a war against Iraq, a war which killed over 1 million innocent Iraqis, a war which was based on every manner of deceit. In our name, and with our tax dollars, countless people were either killed, injured or tortured, their homes ruined, the land destroyed. It is time for Americans to know the truth about Iraq and other wars. Let us push Congress and the President to create a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.
We must require the highest level of accountability from those who have held the highest positions in our government. Lies which took us into war and established a national security state have separated us from each other, and from the world. Let us reunite in the spirit of truth and justice, seeking the moral high ground and a newer world.
6. Restore our relationship with nature and restore our planet. The Philosopher Thomas Berry wrote that "The Great Work" of our lives ought be restoring our relationship with the natural world. As the global temperatures rise, sea levels climb, we are beset by storm clouds of inaction from the poisonous, paralyzing self-interest of inhumane corporations. Nearly a decade ago, when I ran for President, I proposed a "Global Green New Deal" and a "Works Green Administration".
It is for us to gather the knowledge and resources, the strength and determination, to regenerate the soil, protect the land, purify the air, preserve the water, in a ceremony of personal, civic and political engagement which protects and celebrates the natural world as the precondition of life itself.
We can lessen climate disruption by changing the way we grow our food, and restoring our agricultural lands with regenerative organic (agroecological) practices. In doing so, we acknowledge that our food choices have the greatest single impact on our environment, and on our own health.
Let us face the New Year with the confidence that our ability to bring great change depends on our willingness to expect great things of each other and of ourselves. Our current condition of nationhood begs to be re-joined to the visionary confidence of those who 238 years ago announced the birth of a nation and the empowerment of 'we the people'.
Let us summon great courage, and, through the work of our hands and our hearts, create anew the nation which we most desire, one that is blessed with peace, prosperity and justice.
Happy New Year. Welcome, 2015!