John A. Jensen, Founder of FixTheNation.com
We spend a great amount of time, energy, passion, & intellect addressing this question - yet focus on the wrong word. Reform is obvious as we need efficiency, priorities, balance, vision, behaviors, & financial stability. Yet, we never commit to the WHY in any truly detailed, dedicated fashion.
Take a household- it needs a budget and stick to it. WHY? If not, they lose their home, belongings, etc. The WHY makes action on the budget happen. Without a negative endgame that is clear and non-negotiable, budgets would be meaningless theoretical exercises.
So let’s take a moment and talk about the “Cost” of Reform, all reform has a price of some type (time, money, benefits, leadership, reputation, etc). Example: Entitlement Reform means we need to raise the age for benefits (cost of benefits to those who would receive is delayed), lower the payment amount (cost of benefits of lower amount for all), or raise the contribution level (higher tax on individuals and burden on economy). That is the obvious part.
What is the COST for not reforming? The "WHY" is in that answer.
Entitlement Reform is an easy example. IF we do not reform it, we will go bankrupt and not be able to pay any benefit to anyone. IF we do not reform, we will not have money for every other aspect of discretionary spending for other budgetary needs. IF we do not reform we are avoiding our Leadership obligation to deal in real time with a known problem that will affect all Americans.
So the Cost is clear, yet our Leadership does nothing. WHY?
The problem is that the obvious future Cost of Reform is outweighed by the current inconvenience & political distaste of change, so nothing happens. Einstein once said “doing the same thing over & over again, yet expecting a different result is the definition of Insanity”. Our predicament is worse. We actually do the same thing over and over, KNOW we won’t get a different result, and yet continue on the same pathetic path of failure.
Political leaders have learned to leverage certain traits against us. They stand on Ideology and obstruct Reform as the political “win” for them is certain. Americans suffering both now & in the future is sad, but of no consequence to short term political beasts. They understand if they play it right, the American people will not unite around a common theme for our gain- so they keep us fractured into subgroups and pitted against each other’s goals. The lack of compromise in today’s political climate only helps politicians raise money and accelerates our own demise.
IF you boil down this ideology, fracturing, and uncompromising culture down to its root, selfishness rises up as the dominant trait. Selfishness is the enemy of Reform. “Kick the Can down the Road”, “Not in my backyard”, “Cut their benefits not mine” are all easy examples of Leaders & Taxpayers selfish unwillingness to Reform.
Our selfishness has no price that we can perceive. We think doing nothing now will be OK, when exactly the opposite is true. We feel standing our ground is making it better, when it becomes worse. We feel raising our voice but not accomplishing anything is a start, when it’s meaningless & distracting. We feel gridlock by a bipolar dysfunctional Congress “protects” us, when it gives political cover to DC Leadership while we think we are better off by it.
So How do we change the perceive value of “Why”?
The conversation needs to be about solutions, not about problems. It should focus on all of us taking less to make a deal. It needs to be bipartisan in nature and pull us together from the middle. It needs to be grassroot in nature and call out the political extremes. It needs to reveal the politicians who KNOW what need to be done, yet do not actively work toward that solution. It should be Patriotic to Reform, and cowardly or anti-American to stand its way. The American masses must be the impetus which aligns the spirit of “Why” Reform. Our Presidential election of 2016 is both a sign of Hope & Dismay.
Populist tones were resoundingly obvious on both sides of the aisle. The good news is that people want change. The bad news is there are two major camps wanting very different types of reform. Because we are voicing populist (reform of some type) concerns, we are hopefully closer to affecting political change. But Reform is a 2-sided knife, we might get Reform we agree with or end up with Reform we despise. We are in an uphill race against time, selfishness, and active forces pitted against us.
One of these 2 populist factions will win in the end. We will get a leaner, more limited Government more focused on us OR we will get a much larger Government which is both oppressive & controlling. In the end, there can be only one. Their fight is easy, while ours is much harder.
Reformers need to educate people about why taking less is in their best interest, the other side sells “do less, get more” as a utopian endgame illusion. We are asking people to work, sacrifice, speak out, join, & participate in Fixing America- while the other side asks people simply to rage against the machine so they can get “their fair share”.
WHY fight this fight?
The future of America is in Our Hands. We need to stand loud & proud, recruit more now than ever, bring solutions to the middle and pull both sides together, point out the obstructionist on both political sides as defeatist, & work the intellectual strength we have into a grassroots understanding on Main St in every town. Our WHY is our best untapped asset and one we haven’t leverage yet.
The time is now. Go forth and talk up the WHY of Reform. Our Country needs your passion for “Why Reform”.