Democratic ideals are better for all

September 7, 2020

Across the globe, including the U.S., we experience poverty, lack of healthcare, pollution, overpopulation and conflict/terrorism stemming from unstable, unfair, unjust economies. Simple solution!  Grow markets for U.S. jobs with environmentally aware products manufactured in the U.S. and globally. The U.S. achieves full employment, revenues rise, education and healthcare grow - a thriving middle class. “Fear-of-being-left-behind” by one group or another is reduced, replaced by the ideals of our Democratic republic’s framers.

No, I’m not high, or a Pollyanna, while not perfect and with room for improvement, the U.S. must get back to building and improving. Post-WWII we built the largest middle class, sent more people to all levels of school, diversified opportunity, and had the largest economy and GDP in the world, while passing Civil Rights and Voter Rights legislation.

At the root of this was our heavy investment in foreign aid, diplomacy, and building markets while uplifting people. The Marshall Plan rebuilt the economies of war-torn Europe and Asia, creating huge markets for our production. Not only industrial production but the arts, culture, humanities, fashion, movies, literature, ideals, and the lists were endless.

E Pluribus Unum: From Many, One: It is our diversity that makes us a beacon of all things great and desirable and high-minded. It took every one of us to build this country, and each successive wave of immigrants has acculturated and added to our strength. However, balance of love-to-hate, and acceptance of all our powerful diversity over racism (all “isms”) takes constant attention. Like riding a bicycle, we have to keep alert and maintain balance, never believing we’re “there.”   

Someone will always come along and see that they can gain power by dividing and fanning flames of fear into devastating forest fires. Be like Smokey Bear: ‘Only you can stop forest fires’ and divisive hatred. We all rise or fall together, don’t believe otherwise…let’s get it together. When we believe in our ideals and ourselves again, we will be able to be a Great Global Citizen again. Until then, we will fight ever more feverishly over fewer and fewer resources, like the post-apocalyptic, dystopian futures movie studios are so fond of feeding us now…it’s self-perpetuating. Mr. Rogers in 1964 saw that the new medium of television was quickly driving down to the least common denominator - the bottom. He believed that television can uplift and strengthen all viewers, and for over 40 years did just that and continues on for all time in current programming around the globe uplifting, educating, and most of all, giving hope. At a time when there were only four networks, one being public television, people still had to choose the light or the dark. Now with thousands of media choices, you still have the power to choose the light, make your own choices, tune out and tune in to your neighbors, finding their innate goodness and encouraging that daily.

Our great philanthropists and leaders understand that we are only as safe, secure, good, healthy, educated… as the least of us. Whether it’s our fellow Americans left behind by their town’s industries, or agriculture, or other technological advances, we as a country have failed them. We have also failed to see the human value in the countries of the great continents of Africa, South America, and Asia. Trust me though, other countries are not gazing at their navels; they see the value and are investing heavily in African, Asian, and South American ports, roads, railroads, and airports because they see beyond their borders. They see the future.

While the U.S. is not perfect, we have at our best core, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a beacon and North Star - even at times when some forces strive to drag us down and away from our ideals. Because of our best selves we need to believe that we can, and redouble, rebuild, reignite our desire to lift up our neighbor, whether they’re next door or on the next continent. Democratic ideals are better for all than authoritarian nationalistic fascism. “We the people of these United States of America in order to form a more perfect union” - are better than we are behaving now. We are not poisoning and killing our political rivals, yet we can still have a voice; let’s help each other and other nations before we can’t anymore. Martin Niemoller, a theologian and Lutheran pastor, in opposition to the rising Nazi fascist regime in the 1930s, paraphrased here: “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I was not a communist, then they came for the weak and ill and I did not speak because I was healthy…then they came for me and there was no one left to speak or stand up for me.” Check out The Borgen Project at and contact your congresspeople, they make it so easy.


John D. Baker of Lewes is former executive director of AIDS Delaware, DANA and People’s Place. He is an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School, Rutgers and Rider, a former commercial banker, and has led HIV missions in camps and rural areas.
  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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