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A letter from New America to Old America

A letter from New America to Old America
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Trust us, we understand. Change is hard. Who can blame you for wanting to hold on and delay the inevitable? You’ve had an amazing run.

But really, it’s time to hand over that torch now.

The Nov. 7 election results showed an America moving in two opposite directions. Some have even suggested we’re so divided that a second civil war is possible.

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Well, hold on a minute. Before we hunker down even deeper into our red and blue safe spaces, it’s worth remembering the things that still bind us together.

First, Old America, don’t think that we want to jettison what you’ve achieved or everything you stand for. We want to build a more perfect union, not tear it down.

While we need to leave some of your baggage at the curbside, we hope to bring the best of the red, white and blue with us on this bumpy journey into the new world.

Here’s what we suggest to make the move go smoothly.

Let’s start with founding principles: Liberty, justice, equality. Oh yes, we’ll make sure those ideals stay with us, even if they didn’t apply to women, minorities and the poor for far too long. We still have work to do to make sure those precepts become realities for all Americans.

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion. Let’s put those in the moving boxes and mark them “fragile.” Thanks for passing them on to us relatively intact.

The promise of America — America the idea, the shining city on a hill — also will make it into the carry-on bag. Our nation long has stood as a beacon of freedom, land of opportunity and champion of human rights — until recently. While we haven’t always lived up to it, the promise endures.

See? There is so much of Old America that you’ll recognize in the New America.

But now comes the challenging part. We need to leave some things behind.

Racism, for one. The young people who’ll soon dominate the levers of power won’t put up with it. Diversity is their lifeblood. They recognize that racism has been a blight on our nation since our very beginning. Discrimination against LGBTQ people? We need to leave that at the curb, too.

The scapegoating of immigrants is another vestige we’ll leave behind. Pitting Americans against “the other” won’t solve the economic dislocation too many of us are experiencing. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we’ll solve our challenges together, not as warring tribes.

The inequality gap is approaching historic levels. We’ve seen how working people have been squeezed for 40 years while our tax code has become more skewed to favor the rich and ultra-rich. Let’s begin an honest conversation about how we right the ship so that Americans from all walks of life can see their wages grow and the middle class can start to thrive again.

Protectionist trade barriers aren’t going to cut it in New America. Foreign markets are an opportunity, not a threat. Thank you, Old America, for the reminder that Smoot-Hawley added jet fuel to the Great Depression. We can’t go down that road again.

As we settle into the New America, voter suppression efforts will be called out. Every citizen deserves to have his or her vote counted.

Climate change poses perhaps the biggest threat to our uncertain future. Over the past few years, you’ve utterly let us down on that front, Old America. But we’ll intensify our efforts to save the planet. We welcome your help.

Here in the emerging New America, we know we don’t have all the answers. There’s a lot we still need to figure out — together — as we enter these uncertain times.

Our military budget seems out of kilter for the threats of the 21st century, yet we still have a responsibility to balance our overseas responsibilities with a more modest global footprint.

Gun violence seems intractable, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans and gun owners support background checks and stricter gun laws.

Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure seems like a bipartisan gimme. So does holding down health care costs. Let’s make it happen.

The current occupant of the White House? Well, that’s part of the long, painful transition that still lies ahead.

We won’t agree on everything. But let’s begin the conversation with an understanding that Old and New America share a great deal in common.

Now, about that torch. 

J.D. Lasica is an author, entrepreneur, public speaker and new media pioneer in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow him on Twitter @jdlasica.