In a few hours, President Bush will give his seventh State of the Union Address.
There is much the President can rightly say that is good about the state of our union tonight. The men and women of our armed forces are succeeding in Iraq. President Bush will call on Congress to pass earmark reform legislation, something the Republican members have already agreed to do. And, thankfully, in the six-plus years since thousands were murdered on Sept. 11, 2001, America has not suffered another terrorist attack.
But let’s be honest: There is also much that is failing our union today.
America is experiencing a failure of leadership on a scale that dwarfs the successes or failings of any individual elected official. It is a failure of our political parties to lead, the failure of Washington to respond to America’s challenges, the failure of our mainstream media to tell the truth, and above all, the failure of our political system to provide the change we need.
A System Designed by and for Consultants and Special Interests
It’s no accident that "change" has become the watchword of the 2008 presidential election.
But paying lip-service to "change" and actually producing it are two very different things.
Our current system of politics and government can’t deliver change, because that’s not what it was designed to do. The system was created by consultants and special interests in order to keep the former employed and keep the latter in power.
To get the change we need — what you have heard me refer to many times as "real change" — we need to break out of the current system and go straight to the American people.
The Platform of the American People: Play Along at Home During the State of the Union
As you know, at American Solutions, going straight to the American people is precisely what we have done. We spent half a year meeting with you, holding solutions workshops in your towns and online, and asking you directly through a series of national polls what you would like to see changed about America and how.
The result is something that many "Winning the Future" readers are familiar with by now. We call it the Platform of the American People because it is an agenda of solutions for America that are supported by a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
If you haven’t read the Platform of the American People yet, you can at AmericanSolutions.com/platform.
The principles that inspired the Platform and the lessons we learned compiling it are also in my new book, Real Change: From the World that Fails to the World that Works, available here.
Will It Be a Real Change SOTU? Or Just Politics as Usual? You Make the Call
Here’s one thing you can do: Go to AmericanSolutions.com and print out a copy of the Platform of the American People. And then tonight, as you listen to the President’s speech and the subsequent Democratic response, compare and contrast both with the Platform of the American People.
Will it be a Real Change State of the Union? Or just Washington politics as usual?
You make the call.
Tonight’s speech is an opportunity for our political leaders in Washington to take up the challenge being clearly sent by voters in the presidential primary: America wants change — real change — in Washington.
What To Look for in Tonight’s Speech
With your Platform of the American People in hand, here are a few questions to ask yourself about tonight’s speech.
- Is It an Appeal to Red Versus Blue America or to Red, White and Blue America? It’s a media-perpetuated myth that Americans are sharply divided between so-called red and blue states. In fact, America has a natural, overwhelming, center-right majority — a majority that has a better grasp of the challenges facing us then the professional Washington political class.
- Does the President Call for Abolishing the Capital Gains Tax? More than short-term gimmicks, the American economy needs real, permanent changes that will make us more competitive and productive. Abolishing the capital gains tax would create a foundation of new investments for long-term economic growth.
- Is There a Call for English as the Official Language of Government? Overwhelming majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents support this and other changes to unify America and defend American civilization.
- Does Protecting Legal Immigration and America’s Borders Get the Attention It Deserves? Americans favor legal immigration, control of the border, employer responsibility, immediate deportation of illegal aliens convicted of a felony, a requirement to return home to get in line for legal, temporary worker status, and assimilation of new American citizens and legal permanent residents.
- Does the Speech Call for Increased Investment in Math and Science Education? The next 25 years will bring four to seven times more advances in science and technology than the previous 25 years. America must seize this historic opportunity to meet some of our most pressing challenges or risk falling behind the rest of the world.
- Does the Speech Recognize Our Responsibility To Be Good Stewards of God’s Creation? We can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment if we use innovation and new technology rather than litigation and regulation to protect the environment.
- What About the Future of Social Security? Americans believe that it is critical that the President and Congress address the health and welfare of Social Security in the next few years. The survival of the system requires optional personal Social Security savings accounts for younger workers.
- Does the Speech Rally America to a New Commitment to Freedom of Religious Expression in the Public Square? The best way to ensure religious freedom is to protect all religious references and symbols, including those on public buildings, lands or documents.
- Does the Speech Call for Steps to Defend America Beyond the President’s Successful Change of Course in Iraq? The Platform of the American People calls for the defense of America and her allies and for the defeat of America’s enemies. It also supports Congress’ making it a crime to advocate acts of terrorism, the development of programs by the Department of Homeland Security to teach Americans what we can do as individuals to help fight terror, and the use of "computer warfare" to shut down terrorist websites at home and abroad.
President Bush has led the country honorably and ably on many of the questions listed above. Tonight, he and the United States Congress have opportunity to begin to do fundamentally more:
An opportunity to break out of a system that resists real change.
An opportunity to rally the American people to meet our greatest national challenges together.
An opportunity to start moving government from the world that fails to the world that works.
Tonight is truly a unique opportunity. For the sake of my children and grandchildren — and yours — I hope our leaders take it.
P.S. — I will share my reaction on whether or not it was a Real Change State of the Union Address during a webcast this Thursday. Click here to register for the webcast.