In 2016 we and many others with varied backgrounds, like ours—Army and Navy service, diplomacy, academia, business—supported Hillary Clinton. We were aware of her faults but convinced that she was a much better candidate than Donald Trump. Today, we believe Trump as president is seriously endangering the future of our country. The Republican Party continues to aid and abet him.
In the Democratic Party, some leaders have been bold and frank in their criticisms of the Trump administration and are acting to reveal and to correct, as best possible, its misdeeds.
But Democratic leaders have not pulled together, as they must, to help move our country forward. They have not agreed on what must be done once Trump has gone—or even on what legal means to use to remove him before he seriously damages America.
The Democratic National Committee still advertises its 2016 pre-election party platform, far too long for anyone to read and in any case outmoded.
We believe the most urgent need is to remove Trump and his family from the White House. Beyond that, since no one else has come forward with a program for our country, we venture to suggest for discussion the following:
Fourteen Points Toward a Better America
1. Restore civility in public life, avoiding bombast and pinning labels on people, and doing all possible to end ethnic, religious, and gender discrimination;
2. Encourage our citizens, young and old, to spend more time studying the problems the country faces, and less time being swayed by sensationalist media;
3. Stop the growing gulf between the super-rich and other Americans, by progressive taxation as well as action by stockholders to end obscenely high executive salaries; encourage the growth of democratic labor unions that stand up for workers and employees;
4. Resume full support for government programs providing strong infrastructure and research and development, as a necessary foundation for national development;
5. Challenge Americans to be self-reliant, realizing that while government should help those in need, citizens should shape their own selves and their own futures as best possible;
6. Support our public schools and public colleges; provide student loan relief; encourage states and communities to provide technical/vocational training for the non–college-bound;
7. Welcome a modest inflow of immigrants, with priority for young people and refugees from areas stricken by war and natural disaster;
8. Create an efficient system of universal health care based on Medicare, and combat drug addiction, above all by steps to reduce the demand for drugs in our population;
9. Establish a system of civilian national service, with option for voluntary military service, for all fit young men and women, to increase patriotism, help build the country, and lower barriers between classes;
10. Acknowledge the proven, human-caused threat to the world’s environment; rejoin the world community to take urgent action;
11. Strengthen our diplomacy and our strategic alliances, NATO above all, and our ties with other friendly nations, while maintaining a strong and also efficient defense, with the aim of fostering peace and progress while reducing tyranny and oppression, and with due respect for other nations large and small;
12. Improve our economic competitiveness abroad, by improving our own economy as well as ensuring a level playing field;
13. Create a more efficient, less bureaucratic American society in all sectors of government, business, academia, and other organizations;
14. End the spoils system that puts unqualified people in key government jobs.
There is much more to be done. The United States is a great country, with a history of facing up to problems that at the time seemed overwhelming. And, yes, we can do it again.
Peter S. Bridges and Robert W. Farrand
[The signers are former ambassadors who served the United States for a total of seven decades, under both Democratic and Republican presidents. Bridges is a Crested Butte homeowner; Farrand lives in Haymarket, Va.]