Almost everyone who knows me knows I spent six terms in the U.S. House of Representative as a Democrat representing northwest Iowa. Like many people I had strong feeling about who should be elected in the latest national election and who should be defeated.
It seemed for a time that the bickering might overwhelm the good, solid debate among candidates and citizens that is produced by the grand process to pick our leaders. But now once again a relative quiet has fallen over the political landscape and as has always been the case we will go forward as a nation.
So congratulations to the winners. It is my sincere belief that there are easily-stated goals for which they have been elected to strive without regard to party or philosophy. As is already apparent the means to achieve them will be subject to argument but they are too important to let go even as most folks go back to the ordinary struggles of life, sometimes far removed from the noise of politics.
In the time between now and the next biannual election we should judge new and incumbent officials in Washington and all across America on how much progress they have made to achieve the following.
* Ways must be found to make sure every person in our country has enough to eat, a place to sleep, a chance to be educated, the opportunity to work for a living, and access to adequate health care.
* National debt must be trimmed through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The two go hand in hand and the need to find additional funds must not be overlooked.
* The wars in which we have been and still are embroiled must be ended. Our efforts to police the planet since World War II have in general been unsatisfactory. And they have drained the national treasure so dear to solving our domestic needs. Defense spending must be cut and the military of the future built around defense of the country and the ability to combat terrorism.
* Social Security solvency must be achieved so that each and every American in the years to come will have the same safety net that most people have taken for granted in their own lifetimes. This can be accomplished by simply requiring high income workers to pay Social Security taxes at the same rate as everyone else.
* Global warming must be accurately assessed and the threat appropriately met.
President Obama and members of the U.S. Senate and House of representatives, Democrats and Republicans, conducted their winning campaigns at a challenging time for the nation. But winning is just the beginning.
After hard campaigns those who have won must get to work and produce results without regard to party affiliation, hardline positions, big donors or campaign rhetoric. And we who have voted must hold them responsible. No less is at stake than the future well-being of our great country--quite possibly its survival.