Guest Columns

Conservatives Talk About Returning to the Good Old Days: Here’s What We Need

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

We are part of The Trust Project

By Robert R. Daraio

A person for whom I have great respect and affection sent me an editorial written by Victor Davis Hanson, a distinguished conservative university professor, that suggested that the way to preserve American democracy is as follows:

“Most know what must be done, but few will tell the truth: Balance the budget. Return to legal only immigration. Restore a well-funded, but unwoke Pentagon.

Insist on racial unity. Curb the overweening administrative state. Enforce the rule of law.

Produce more gas and oil. Reestablish civic education. Insist universities protect free speech and due process – and stop proselytizing.

In other words, restore what until recently made America the strongest, most prosperous, and freest nation in the world. And quit undoing all the great good that eight generations of prior Americans bequeathed to us.”

I respectfully disagree. Conservative pundits talk about returning to the values of days gone by, but they don’t address the racism, sexism, homophobia and inequality that were part and parcel of the days gone by.

The way we protect our Republic is to ensure that our children get the best possible education. We need to teach them how to learn, while encouraging them to question everything, drill down past rhetoric to the truth and instill in them the grit to seek answers and persevere despite the challenges they will inevitably encounter.

We need to disempower the corrupt corporate grip on our elected officials by getting corporate money out of political campaigns, eliminating corporate personhood and instituting a system of taxation that guarantees that corporate America pays its fair share.

We need to shore up the middle class by ending offshoring of good union jobs, require all businesses to pay a living wage, with health insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance and a pension, prior to initiating any stock buybacks, stock dividends and/or executive bonuses.

We need single-payer, affordable health insurance for everyone, prenatal and postnatal care, dental, hearing and eye care, lower cost prescription drugs for everyone, an end to attacks and limits on women’s reproductive rights and an end to clerks, accountants and politicians making healthcare decisions, rather than medical professionals.

We need to overhaul our immigration policies to make them equitable, provide a path to citizenship to undocumented people who’ve been exploited as cheap labor with substandard wages and working conditions with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads if they complain. We need to distinguish between illegal immigration and asylum seeking and shorten the time it takes to process citizenship applications.

We need to work with Canada and Mexico to strengthen border security and tighten security at our ports and airports.

We need to eliminate the electoral college, strengthen protections of voting rights and end gerrymandering. A nation that loses faith in the electoral process cannot survive.

We need to stop investing research and development money into finding ways to do everything with less people and put those resources into making better, safer, greener, more sustainable products that create jobs rather than eliminating them.

We need to update and upgrade our armed forces’ equipment, training, pay and benefits to increase retention and recruitment, as well as keeping our sons and daughters in uniform as safe as possible as they put their lives at risk to protect our country.

We must continue moving forward toward racial equality, protecting, embracing and promoting the racial, religious, ethnic and gender diversity that has made our country a shining light of freedom in a troubled world.

That’s what needs to be done. We have the ability and wherewithal to accomplish this if only we can find enough leadership with the grit to get it done.

Robert R. Daraio is an Ossining resident.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.