Investment in our children should transcend party lines
As the 2022 election season heats up, Americans will be inundated with reminders of our divisions, including differences in political party, demographics, and voting patterns. Yet, what far too often gets ignored in these conversations, or omitted in 30-second attack ads, is just how much we have in common as Americans.
Ideology shouldn’t drive the way we think about what’s important in our country. Nor should party affiliation be considered a stand-in for patriotism.
We share a common destiny, and we share common bedrock values like the desire to leave the country better than we found it for future generations.
One way we provide for that future prosperity is to make sure that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of background, race, zip code, or wealth. These issues aren’t just a question of being “the right thing to do.”
They’re a question of what our nation needs.
At Council for a Strong America, we’ve brought together leaders from the business, law enforcement, and military sectors to work together to help achieve this goal.
That prominent members of those communities choose to be champions for children and families is no accident. All of them understand that, for our country to succeed, we must make sure that all children can succeed.
Their diverse perspectives and powerful voices provide essential reminders that we as Americans are all in this together.
The president of the regional chamber of commerce knows that infants and toddlers need quality early care and education to gain the foundational skills that will prepare them to be successful, prosperous members of the workforce in the coming years, and that parents need quality child care to be productive at work.
The local chief of police knows that young people who don’t develop impulse control at a young age will be much more likely to get mixed up in crime years later, ruining their own lives and the lives of others, while making the community and communities around the country less safe.
The retired four-star general knows that children who don’t grow up with basic academic skills and access to healthy and nutritious meals may not only be unable to serve in the military if they so choose, but will have difficulty pursuing any viable career path due to educational and/or health deficiencies.
The common thread that connects a Pennsylvania business leader to a Wyoming sheriff to a retired admiral in California is the knowledge that investments in families and children—especially infants and toddlers—are essential to preserving the strength of our nation.
This is true from a workforce, public safety, or national security perspective, but, moreover, it is a truth that transcends ideology.
It is far past time for policymakers from both sides of the aisle to unite on vital issues like child care, pre-K, afterschool programs, childhood nutrition, and more. These diverse voices and perspectives resonate with many Republicans and Democrats who understand the connection between these investments and America’s long-term strength, safety, and productivity.
Regardless of the political climate, we know those perspectives will continue to be an effective tool for educating lawmakers and demonstrating the evidence-based link between investments in children and families and the fate of our nation.
The simple truth is that power at the federal level and in many states will be shared by Republicans and Democrats for the foreseeable future. We need to find a way to talk to each other—and thereby find a way to make decisions that ensure our nation’s long-term strength.
My hope is that our members’ continued work will not only help keep our nation strong, but will also serve as a reminder that, no matter the outcome of a given election, there is still more that connects us than divides us. Among those connections is a shared future.
For the sake of our country, we must ensure that the next generation of Americans can participate fully and successfully in that future.
Barry Ford is the president and CEO of the nonpartisan Council for a Strong America
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