Bryan Griffin: America’s New Year’s Resolutions | WAMC

Bryan Griffin: America’s New Year’s Resolutions

Dec 30, 2020

What’s your New Year’s resolution? To get fit and work on your wellness? To learn an instrument or a language? To save or to give? Maybe to take that next step towards something big in your life?

We all grapple with goal setting around this time. We analyze where we came up short in the past year and identify where we need to improve.

What are America’s New Year’s resolutions?

Here’s a few suggestions:

Let’s clean house. The pandemic showed us that many of our local political leaders have a playbook with only a single play in it: expand government. COVID presented a complex set of issues to our society. What we understood about COVID and how it was spread—and not spread—evolved continuously over the course of the year. However, state governors like Gavin Newsom of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Megan Whitmer of Michigan seemed to be unable to follow the science. They continuously instituted stricter and stricter lockdowns that often-included arbitrary restrictions.

In Whitmer’s Michigan, the government told you how many people you could have in your own home.

In Cuomo’s New York State, nursing homes were forced to accept COVID-positive patients. And in Bill DeBlasio’s New York City, you can’t eat indoors, but you can eat outside even if you are inside of specially-constructed outdoor-indoor tent tables. Go figure.

In Gavin Newsom’s California and Muriel Bowser’s D.C., you are restricted to the rules but they aren’t. They’ll have their birthday parties and celebrate their political victories while your livelihood hangs in the balance.

Some of these governors aren’t up until 2022, but the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections are in 2021, along with a slew of big city mayors (New York City included).

Out with the old, in with the new.

Let’s get our finances in order and start saving again.

The U.S. passed some record-shattering spending bills in 2020. Many of these were designed to help get money back into the hands of the American people during this time of crisis. Of course, most of the economic devastation that Americans suffered this year was because of governmental decisions in response to COVID. And while it may seem helpful that Congress is going back to the well to send us bigger stimulus checks, there seems to be no contemplation at the top of taking less income tax from the average American or reducing our national spending.

Our nation’s debt is nearing $28 trillion. The creation of the wealth necessary to tackle this will require serious reduction in the size and scope of government and a re-prioritization of how the government spends our money. Will the Biden administration have this mindfulness, or the will, to tackle our debt?

Probably not. But we can spend the year emphasizing this to our elected leaders.

Let’s set big goals for our nation, and strive to live up to them. Do we, as a country, still believe in the American dream? Can our country offer prosperity to those who work for it? Can we keep our markets free and our destinies in our own hands—and not the government’s? Can our desire to be charitable and help others be fostered in the spirit of giving and helping, and not mandated from the top? Can we innovate our way out of problems, instead of regulating?

We were built on these ideals. They’re part of our character, and our success. They’re still within us. And they’re worth pursuing.

Let’s practice what we are good at: innovating. Thanks to companies working in healthy competition within a free-market, America has made great strides towards successful COVID vaccines in record time. Let’s take the same approach with healthcare. And protecting the environment. Let’s innovate our way to greater effectiveness and lower cost. Our regulatory landscape should be one that encourages businesses to compete in these metrics to consumers, while demonstrating their values and ethics to the public.

Finally, let’s use the New Year as an opportunity to come together.

I know, this is easier said than done. This will be a big one. 2020 saw incredible division in our nation: politically, racially, and elsewhere. Despite our differences, we share so much more in common.

But let’s get serious about reconciliation. Achieving this lofty goal will require a sound rejection of those who want to focus solely on our differences. Identity politics should be left in 2020. Each of us has more worth and more potential than the group with which we identify.

Our communities span across demographics. Our country’s ideals of freedom and liberty are worth defending. And our families are worthy of the attention we currently spend on our differences.

Bryan Griffin of the London Center for Policy Research is a lawyer and author who specializes in American policy in the Middle East.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.