Commentary: America must face up to its challenges

By Karl Becker
For The Cordova Times

I am — as I’m sure you are — anxiously waiting for this election season to end. It’s been exhausting and often demoralizing. We are facing COVID-19; economic desperation; climate change; political and social division; political gridlock; a broken health care system; a fractured justice system; and feckless leadership. We must open our eyes and confront the realities of our time if we are going to leave our daughters and sons a world worth living in.

In this time of pandemic, we must stop tinkering around the edges of our health care system. It works great for the wealthy and well connected. It is haphazard, mediocre, and expensive for too many of the rest of us. No American should have to depend on the emergency room for their primary health care. In the middle of a pandemic no one should have to face medical bankruptcy or the risk of a COVID infection counting as a pre-existing condition. We need a robust and fair health care system for all.

As Americans we must use our privilege and wealth to lead our planet to a brighter future. We owe humanity a safer, healthier, sustainable, greener, and — hopefully — more joyous world. This will mean taking climate change and our threatened human and natural environments seriously. We must develop and implement technologies and attitudes to confront these trends. Otherwise, we will leave our children an unlivable world where vast numbers of humanity will suffer disproportionately.

Too many of our citizens are losing ground financially like sand falling through the cracks in the floor of our economy. Our leaders are negligent. They must end political gridlock and come together to pass legislation to help people facing hunger, eviction and bankruptcy. We can’t afford to be paralyzed by our national debt. Most of us can’t pay cash to own our homes so we willingly take on a mortgage to have a place to live in now, not in some distant future.

We must fix our justice system which is beset by ideological litmus tests and inequalities where race, wealth and status determine who pays, and who skates free.

We have a pay-to-play political system which works well for the wealthy but leaves the rest of us on the sidelines demoralized and cynical. This must end or our democracy will be in more peril than it is now.

We have to engage with the world at large or risk being swept away by history and circumstances that have solutions if we deal with them now. We need to stop neglecting our responsibilities to future generations. Imagine kicking our children into the world and saying: “We got ours. Good luck, you’re on your own … suckers!”

We are at a crossroads. We can’t afford to face the future as a deeply divided and dysfunctional nation. We need leaders who will unite us and who will help us to soberly confront our challenges.

That’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Karl Becker is a Cordova resident who has pursued careers ranging from commercial fishing to surveying. He is a full-time watercolor artist.