Right before I was born we elected this president named John F Kennedy.  “Kennedy’s famous message to Congress on May 25, 1961, set the goal “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth.” On September 12, 1962, a presidential address at Rice University, given during a trip to tour NASA facilities, elaborated the rationale for his lunar objective. Space was a “new frontier,” a “new sea” in the next great age of discovery. The conquest of space, a historic and strategic imperative, would challenge Americans to show their greatness and would signal national prestige and global leadership. Invoking the competition of the space race by emphasizing a romantic and visionary national quest. It stressed how practical and technological greatness could mix with the noblest goals of human aspiration. It provided a chronology of urgency: “We meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance.”
President Kennedy called on our greatest minds of the time to meet this challenge, and they did. They surpassed countless hurtles by advancing science past the boundaries that, until that time, were merely imagined. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 but on July 20, 1969 this nation met his challenge and landed men on the moon.
Before president Kennedy’s time we were involved in World War II. The axis military opposing us at that time often surpassed us in technological capability. The Japanese Zero and the German 109 were, at the time, superior to any fighter plane we Americans possessed. By the end of that war we had the F4U Corsair, and the P-51 Mustang, and the B-29 Flying Fortress rolling off our assembly lines.
To end that war we also called upon the great minds of Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, J. Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Rudolf Peierls, Otto Frisch, Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn, and Edward Teller, many of whom were refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. These men and others were asked to create an atomic bomb in absolute secrecy that we might end the war and beat other nations to this technological breakthrough. They did just that, and America then dropped two of these weapons on Japan ending the war in the pacific.
Ronald Reagan called upon science to build a missile defense system he called Star Wars to use earth based lasers redirected by orbiting platforms to knock out incoming enemy missiles. This system was among the reasons the Soviet Union collapsed and the famed wall came down.
I mention these things, and have left out many more, as a counterpoint to today’s current GOP party. which deny science at every turn. They see science as an enemy of God and profit, which to them is usually the same thing. They fight renewable energy as it will impact big oil profits. They fight any attempt to repair and upgrade our nations infrastructure. The UK, China, Japan, Spain have all pushed forward with high speed rail systems while America is chugging along on the old technology. Our roads and bridges crumble while the government does nothing to help. But turn down an oil pipeline from Canada to the gulf coast and the GOP notices.
America ranks 14th in education. We rank 44th in health care efficiency, which is health care cost and life expectancy before your little head goes on an Obamacare sucks rant. America ranks 2nd in ignorance, rated as general ignorance of social statistics about teen pregnancy, unemployment, and voting patterns. We rank 66th in religious diversity and a surprising 17th in having confidence in President Obama. America has the 3rd most competitive economy behind Switzerland and Singapore. America ranks 46th in freedom of the press. America ranks 26th in literacy and 24th in child well being. And we rank 17th in happiness behind Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands to name a few.
What might we be first in? Well America ranks number 1 in the super rich, We have the most of them by a wide margin. We are also number one in incarcerated humans by a repulsive margin. America also leads the world in defense spending by an exceptional margin. What might these three things have in common I wonder. Well prison systems in this nation are privatizing. This means there is money to be made in incarcerating humans. Rich people can build prisons and profit. Privatized prison systems need incarcerated humans to turn this profit. The American war machine is trickier. We all like to feel safe and secure. I am not alone on this feeling. But the super rich are vested in defense industry contracts and therefore profit from dead foreign people. So the few things we remain truly good at all benefit the one thing we have more of than anyone else. What we really are number one at is making profit for the super rich at the expense of the rest of us.
I am not writing this to go on a rant about the horror of the previous paragraph. I shouldn’t have to. If you have bucked the American system and become both literate and educated you should already be there with little or no help from me. But I am going to ask a simple question. Where are the great leaders of this generation? Where are the presidential prospects asking Americans to step up to the plate? Where is the call to action for renewable energy and the creation of a new and powerful infrastructure to power this nation? Where is the call to action that we Americans rise up and lead the world in making the future a place where people want to live?
I am sure some right wing nut will read this and assume it is from a tree hugging leftist because I do not propose the death of massive amounts of humans unlike myself. I am past the point of caring what they think or even if they do at all. I think though that it is time we ask the people of this nation, intent on leading it, to either improve as humans or step aside. I cannot think of one person currently running for president that I think should be president. Not one speech, or debate stage has shown a shining light at the end of this very dark tunnel aimed at the next 4 to 8 years.
What I have heard instead is hate, fear, rhetoric, intolerance, insults, squabbling, and a herd of petty humans bent on telling us what is wrong. I want someone to tell me what is going to get fixed and how. I do not want more calls to war, or more criminals arrested. I do not want to hear any more about a need to carry weapons at every function I attend. I want a world where these things stop. Make America Great Again is a fine slogan in one’s run for the office of president but the candidate behind such a slogan should not be one that can only achieve this goal by leaving the country entirely. Politician was never intended to be a career choice but rather a calling. We should make it this again.
This nation is supposed to try to stand for more than petty outrage. It is supposed to pretend to be the example it claims to be. The ideals I think of when I think of America are a quest for greater things, a helping hand to those in need, and a commitment to the next generation that they will have a place to live in that is worth living in. I want a president that tells us to get our act together because like it or not we are going to mars. Like it or not we are making this nation one powered on renewable resources. Like it or not we are moving away from the pollution of the past to the energy of the future. Like it or not we are going to ask the super rich to contribute to our society in a meaningful way or get the hell out. We do not need more prisons we need fewer inmates. We do not need more bombs we need fewer reasons to drop them. We need science and technology to advance America into the future or we need to get out of the way and let the next nation in line run the show as we seem to have not the desire to act like grownups and rise to the occasion.