By ROBERTA KELLER
I have been a faithful observer of all political activity for many years of my life. The most recent years have been disheartening years, due to the extreme divisiveness of all the political parties.
I found the last election to be particularly tedious and felt disrespected by ads that did not address serious national issues with substantive information: but rather, used advertising techniques to develop emotional reactions in prospective voters. Polls would indicate that I am not alone in my frustration with politics and politicians. Americans have clearly said they want both parties to work together and compromise to solve our national issues.
President Obama's State of the Union speech seemed at times to embrace the idea that we can work together to address our nation's needs. I would encourage our elected officials to come together and leave their philosophies behind. It is time to be pragmatic and to compromise toward common goals. All would agree that the country needs to find new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.
Since our recession in 2008, a significant number of Americans are in a financially vulnerable situation. They are struggling to pay the mortgage, keep food on the table for the family, afford to keep the vehicles gassed up, and pay their utility bills. They have lost most of their expendable income. These vulnerable Americans cross age demographics, they cross educational demographics, they cross racial and gender demographics.
We would all agree that it is past time to get our "fiscal house in order" and to significantly reduce the deficit. This is not and should not be a time to "target and blame" but to work together to operate in a financially responsible manner. We did not create this deficit through services to the poor.
We fought two wars, we stimulated ourselves out of a deep recession, we provide extensive financial support all over the world, we respond financially to multiple natural disasters (at home and abroad). The afore-mentioned costs are significantly greater than any services we provide to our citizens who are in need of assistance. Most people utilizing supportive services are working (some working two or more jobs), but not making a living wage.
Before we turn on one another in a blame game, let's find mutually supportive solutions that will reduce the deficit and empower Americans to earn a decent living in a globally positioned economy of the future.
This will take some creativity and certainly, some cooperation. The gain is universal whether rich or poor if we solve these problems, America is stronger for it and we model for the next and future generations that our "system" is viable and works for all.
Roberta Keller is executive director of Chautauqua Opportunities Inc.