We are forming this blog today in the middle of an incredibly difficult time for Americans. Everyone knows the numbers: unemployment is sky high, fluctuating near 10%. The federal budget deficit this year is expected to be well over $1 trillion and the total national debt is over $13 trillion. Americans are beginning to worry that, for the first time in our history, the next generation will not be as well off as the last.
To make matters worse, our infrastructure is crumbling. The famously high American middle-class standard of living has been almost stagnant for years (despite the fact that GDP and incomes for the super-rich increased for much of that time). Americans’ life expectancy is falling compared with other wealthy countries. China is becoming a more serious competitor each week— both militarily and for our jobs. Increasingly lower percentages of Americans get a college degree at a time when higher education is more important than ever to compete in a global workforce. Although the United States has one of the highest levels of scientific research and entrepreneurship in the world, other countries have recently surpassed us and we are very quickly losing our former dominance. Losing our scientific and technological edge would have disastrous consequences for our American standard of living.
In addition, many states are nearly bankrupt. As a result, all the services and safety net we need more than ever to get through these hard times are falling apart or are actively being sabotaged by politicians more interested in holding onto power than helping their fellow Americans get back on their feet. And Congress can’t seem to get much done to solve the problems. A nation cannot function long at the level we’re accustomed to under these circumstances.
But despite all the terrible news, this blog spreads an optimistic message. We believe that in the middle of this crisis, two important things are clear. First, every American has been impacted. The deep economic recession, threats from China, Iran, and elsewhere, crumbling infrastructure, and all the other problems all threaten the vision we each have for our country’s future. These problems diminish the quality of life of Republicans and Democrats, people from towns and people from cities. Wherever we’re from and whatever our politics, as Americans we all have an enormous stake in solving the problems we’re suddenly facing together.
Second, it is also clear to us that the highly ideological, reactionary policies that many politicians and pundits have proposed in response to our collective frustration are far too weak (or in many cases, counterproductive) to rebuild our country. Now is not the time to dismantle unemployment benefits, to risk yet another ultimately debilitating war in the Middle East by encouraging Israel to strike Iran, or to cut back on the research that will propel our economic recovery.
Instead, the nation needs a common sense movement. This means thoughtful, pragmatic politics aimed at improving the lives of all Americans, regardless of their location or station. Rather than using old, tired ideologies that do not reflect the urgency of our current situation, these new American policies must be chosen for their ability to deliver results. Many politicians haven’t given us what we need, so it’s up to us as citizens to pressure them into action.
Because we favor effectiveness over ideology, we have no preconceived allegiance to either the Republican or Democratic parties. And although we can tell we’re being lied to by many pundits and politicians in both parties, we also understand the incredible dangers of thinking entirely “from the gut” or ignoring real threats simply because our government and our academics point them out. Our country has some of the best scientists, thinkers, and public servants the world has ever seen. Carefully and thoughtfully relying on their knowledge, while also always questioning the wisdom of what we hear from above, will ground our movement to reality and ensure its success. No movement can survive for long if it scorns facts and thinkers and believes unprovable conspiracies.
This blog will collect stories and information relevant to the common sense movement. It will propose commonsense policies and call into question aspects of our system that are broken or stand in the way of the incredible prosperity that we know stands before future generations of Americans.
Most of all, this blog is a conversation. We invite our fellow Americans to propose ideas and voice their input to the issues discussed here. Our renewed American strength and prosperity depend on it.