Forward thinking: Signs of the times

Loren Simmonds

Is our nation at risk?

As a student of history, I find myself asking that question with greater frequency than I like to admit.

However, from ancient Rome to the superpowers of the 20th century, all of the greatest nations in history have something in common. They have shared various symptoms that inevitably led to their decline to one degree or another.

Yes, some great nations were suddenly conquered or overthrown. However, the great majority of them collapsed from the inside out. This begs the question: “just how healthy is the United States?”

I don’t proport to be an expert by any means. Nor am I a prophet or the son of prophet – as it were. Over time, however, I have observed symptoms that I believe currently threaten America and therefore our future. Think with me as I attempt to briefly outline them.

Conservatism vs. Progressivism. From Second Amendment issues and limits on abortion to free speech and banning plastic straws, conservatives and progressives have very different ideas about how America should handle today’s cultural and political issues.

Health care. Our health care system needs and overhaul. As Americans debate the best way to lower costs, increase quality, and ensure that individuals and patients, not bureaucrats, are in the driver’s seat.

Immigration. Immigration is one of the fundamental building blocks that help make America the unique nation it is. Whether we should allow immigration is not the debate – it’s how we can do so in a way that protects American sovereignty, respects the rule of law, and benefits all Americans.

Religious liberty. The First Amendment begins “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .” however, today the idea of “free exercise” is under attack like never before. We must learn to defend this pillar of our society.

Families. Families are the building blocks of civilization. Strong families make for strong communities. That’s why our declining marriage rate is a serious problem with negative consequences for men, women and children.

Education. Colleges and universities are handling our federal loan money with little scrutiny of a student’s ability to pay it back – not his/her parents. One way to stop the sharp rise in both college tuition and student debt is to get the federal government out of the student loan business.

Environment. Americans want a clean environment. They also want affordable and reliable energy. Despite what we often hear from elected officials and special interest groups promoting climate change alarmism, we can have both.

Election integrity. Election integrity should not be seen as a partisan issue. All Americans have an interest in ensuring a fair and accurate process. That means ensuring not only that every eligible individual is able to vote, but also that his or her vote is not stolen or diluted through fraud.

Welfare. The War on Poverty has failed America’s poor. So how, after five decades and $25 trillion, do we fix the problem? We must change welfare policies that deter work, discourage families from staying together, and promote dependence on government.

Spending. Rising federal debt is a serious threat. Out-of-control spending by elected officials in Washington and every level of government will eventually lead to fewer jobs, lower wages, and massive tax increases on the working-class Americans. The good news is that we know how to fix it.

I think you would agree that tackling the above 10 issues is no small task. Moreover, you may have totally disagreed with part or all of my brief responses to the specific issues. I respect your right and freedom to do so. However, my hope is that I succeeded in getting you to think about these issues that are “weakening the foundation of our nation.”

On the day that our Constitution was signed, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, sir, what have you given us?” He simply responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

If you can keep it. These five little words have come to mean an awful lot in the years to come . . . and never more than they do right now. If we are robbed of our past, are we prepared to accept any future?

Until next time . . .

— By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 37 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years, including eight as Council President. He remains active in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Civil Service Commission and the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He believes that volunteerism sows the seeds of community. Loren is semi-retired and works as a writer, speaker and leadership coach.