(CNN)During my 35-year career working with individuals and groups going through traumatic experiences, I have helped people navigate the consequences of an irresponsible political establishment. As a result, I have strong ideas about some of the things that have gone wrong in America and how to help us heal.
Relatively few Americans have abused their rights at the expense of the many, turning the US government into their own personal playground. From tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest among us, to corporate subsidies that aid industries (oil, big pharma, agribusiness, etc.) already profiting to the tune of billions, money has been sliding for decades away from expenditures that support the public good to expenditures that support the lucky few.
Though American politicians continues to say we are a democracy, we are sliding ever more dangerously into a veiled aristocratic system. The mindset of the new aristocracy has not only imbued our politics — it has hijacked America’s value system, leading us to swerve from our democratic and deep human values. We have forgotten that public morality even matters.
We need to remind ourselves that economic injustice is a moral transgression. Neglecting the medical, educational and social needs of millions of people so that a few can swell their bank accounts is a moral transgression. And until we bring our political policies back into alignment with our moral core, then nothing will fundamentally heal this country.
The political establishment has had 40 years to correct itself. And so, it is time for the American people to step in, to stage an intervention and to disrupt the status quo.
When millions of American children live in chronic trauma, trapped in schools that do not even have adequate school supplies to teach a child to read (a child who cannot read by the age of eight has not only a drastically decreased chance of high school graduation but also a drastically increased chance of incarceration) and our government does little more than normalize their despair, that is a moral outrage. That is why I propose creating a Cabinet-level US Department of Children and Youth.
When mass incarceration, racial disparity in criminal sentencing and rampant layers of systemic racism are responded to with incremental changes — as opposed to the fundamental recognition of a racial debt that is yet to be paid — that is a moral outrage. That is why I propose that the United States pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Americans.
When the US spends billions more on preparing for war than promoting peace, that is a moral outrage. It is why I have proposed a more robust and equal relationship between humanitarian efforts by the State Department, and legitimate needs for war preparedness by the Defense Department. I would also create a US Department of Peace to address violence here in the United States.
People have been trained in this country to ask for far too little, and it is time to not only ask, but to demand, that the powers of the US government be returned to advocacy for the health and wellbeing of the American people over advocacy for short-term corporate profits. While some politicians might know a bit more about how Washington works, I know enough to know that how Washington works is contributing to what is wrong with the world. Americans are waking up to the deep corruption that has taken hold of our government, and we need a president who is not afraid to name it.
Those who see the world through the limitations of the corrupt system that got us into this ditch are not necessarily those best qualified to get us out of it. In the words of Franklin Roosevelt, the primary role of the president is “moral leadership.” We need a political visionary as much as we need a political mechanic.
A massive uprising of consciousness among the American people, backed by the personal motivation to take their passion to the polls, is the only force strong enough to override the threats to our democracy. Someone with a well-established and well-developed knowledge of the American people, and deep faith in our abilities, is the best qualified candidate to lead us into the next chapter of America’s history. It’s not enough to just water the leaves of our democracy; we must water the roots — and those roots are within us.
The skill of the moral awakener is the skill most needed in an American president today. It is a skill that I have, with which I have helped move the lives of millions of people from trauma to transformation. I am prepared to do that for this country.
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