An open letter to my friends

You’re all my friends even if we haven’t met yet.

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To form a more perfect union goes back to the beginning. What happened?

o, Blue America! Put your hands down, this isn’t a quiz. We know you think you’re the smartest kids in the room but that only goes so far. You spent waaay too much time in trigonometry and AP Basket Weaving and you might have gotten some swell jobs in the process but just like in 9th grade, you’re sucking all the air out of the room. It would have been nice if you’d put on some pads once and banged around a field with the rest of us trying to score a few meaningless points.

Your great educations have some, um holes in them, shall we say? Here’s a quick quiz on some things you might have missed: What has more food value short ribs or ox tail? How do you unclog a drain without calling a plumber? Have you ever changed your own oil? Ever looked under the hood? Do you understand the difference between empathy and political correctness?

You and your conservative cousins played your hand of Monopoly so well that you own everything and it’s getting to the point where no one wants to play with you. Just like 9th grade, remember? Sure, you know where to get the best noodle soup in Beijing or Guangzhou but that’s only because you have to fly there every month to check in on the factory you moved there, our factory.

How about a little reciprocity? Sure, the right answer in your spreadsheet might have been moving that factory, but maybe you didn’t look at enough variables before you pulled the trigger. Along with the jobs you took, there’s a bit of a cost issue you seem to have overlooked. For example, the Seventh Fleet headquartered in Japan. If you don’t pay your fair share of taxes, how are we supposed to support that fleet or the Sixth Fleet in Europe? How long do you think our sons and daughters can be out there to protect your precious intellectual property unless you pay your fair share of taxes?

We love your dynamism, your can-do attitude and the way you make technological and financial magic happen. It reminds us of how we all used to be, not just in your coastal enclaves. We have big challenges today involving how we pass on a fair society and a livable planet to our kids and that includes basic fairness for all of us and getting a handle on population because the earth is a limited resource and we can’t just keep taking from it. We need to see you turn your superpowers to doing more good.

ed America! We love you, really, but it’s confounding how too much of what you say and do comes from doctrine instead of logic. Sometimes we just don’t know how to respond when you show up with your own facts. Those smiles you see on our faces aren’t smugness, we’re just a little embarrassed about having to remind some of you that the earth isn’t flat.

I know that’s harsh but ask yourselves this. How many times in the last 20 years have we come to impasses because you supported ideas that were obviously false and we didn’t have the votes to change the equation? If you don’t like something there are ways to change the situation but you can’t just bring our system crashing down by providing your own facts. You do have to play by the rules we all signed up for.

Ok, this is going to ignite a lot of blowback but consider this. If you don’t like the current national stance on abortion you can change it. But that change has to happen through the constitutional amendment process because the Supreme Court already ruled. The idea of corrupting the Senate so that you can stack the Supreme Court and have a re-do of Roe is nonsense. The collateral damage is immense, right now we have a government that barely functions because of all that corruption. And please don’t tell us that both sides do it or say something that justifies importing your own reality. We aren’t buying that any more. Nothing justifies substituting your own reality.

Yes, Red America, we really do love you but lately it’s been the love we all have for the prodigal. When is that boy gonna…? You know how it goes. Just like you, we love freedom and we have some interesting ideas about God, too. But we’re committed to the idea that we all get to worship our god in our way because it’s a right we grant to each other, not something that’s sponsored by government. We are also well aware that freedom of speech comes with the responsibility to not yell fire in a crowded space.

Freedom is like that it’s intentionally messy and it’s embedded in a constitution that puts people and laws in charge and outlaws both a monarch and a state religion among other things. It’s a set of rules that’s worked well through war, peace, prosperity and downturns for nearly 250 years. If we could only get a little closer to its central idea of forming a more perfect union, we’d all be better off. We need your help!

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Can we still make the effort?

ome on now Millennial America, we need you to be more engaged. Things aren’t always going to go your way but that’s life in a democracy. You can’t go home if your ideas don’t always prevail. It means you have to work harder next time. You skew younger than the average American, you’re well educated for the most part and you have a lot to offer. Most interestingly you have a delightful way of not seeing artificial barriers like skin color, sexual orientation, gender and the like.

You’re also a bit damaged to be honest, sorry about that. You’ve done well to grow up in households where both parents had big jobs and now too many of you have been abandoned with sky high tuition debt and too few jobs for your exotic majors. The data shows that your generation is the poorest per capita of any recent generation at this stage of life. That’s causing big downward pressure on household formation, marriage and other things that a healthy society needs to do to perpetuate itself.

But you’re the ones we’re passing this world on to. I wish it was in better shape but you know what? There are lots of us in both Red and Blue America who would love to join hands with you to fix things, as much as things can be fixed. We need your leadership. I know, I know, you’re not accustomed to being the “adults” in the room but there you are. It’s time, you’re being drafted.

You know, your grandparents were once in a similar position when a devastating depression started and then a major war broke out. They were just kids asked to take on major adult responsibilities well before life should have asked. But they responded magnificently and today we still call them the greatest generation.

I don’t know for sure if history repeats itself or not but right now it’s teeing up a major opportunity for you. There’s no war and that’s good, the economy seems in reasonable shape but we’re at a point where we need fresh voices to lead us to a more sustainable and cooperative future. Many of you are examining alternatives to Capitalism because it hasn’t been very good for you and its future seems sketchy. I think it can adapt with your help but that’s up to you.

We need new models that tell us how to save the planet and how to live together in an increasingly crowded and competitive world. You have ideas and experience in all of this. Add to that your ability to help us all get along. I know this is a big ask but I’m also confident that you can provide some of the leadership we need.

Thanks in advance!

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.

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