Guest Editorials

A problem-solving nation

by Scott N. Howell

America has many problems – from budget deficits to garbage excesses.

We can solve those problems.
We will solve those problems.

The United States of America is the greatest problem-solving nation ever developed. Our political institutions were designed to seek out the best solutions from the vast marketplace of ideas. Our entrepreneurial business structure was designed to encourage and reward those with new ideas and solutions. Our social structure was designed to make certain every individual has equal opportunity to be heard and to share problem-solving ideas. Our public education system – unique in all the world – was designed to bring the benefits of education to every youngster so he or she has opportunities to develop personal talents and problem-solving abilities.

Every American knows that this nation has an unmatched record of solving national, state, local and even personal problems. It began during the Revolutionary War, when we solved the problem of sovereignty. No one thought we could win that war. But we did. We needed a Constitution. Solving that problem was not easy, but we did it. We found solutions to economic crises, wars, disease epidemics, transportation challenges. We somehow resolved the embarrassing problem of segregation. We sent a whole generation of returning military veterans to college in order to jump start a postwar economy. We created more new technologies, new industries, and new works of art than any nation in history. We developed the world’s most generous society to help resolve social and personal problems.

We solved the problem of slavery and are working toward solving the problems of legalized discrimination against various segments of our society.  We can, and we will, solve these problems.  We will build a society based upon the notion of equality for all.

We are a problem-solving people.

But we can’t solve today’s problems by depending on solutions from the same individuals who helped create the problems. There is no shortage of good problem-solving ideas. We can’t solve problems so long as political leaders are unwilling to listen, to discuss and to consider ideas from all sources.

We can’t solve today’s problems if political leaders insist on standing on opposite sides of the room and simply yelling at one another. They must meet in the middle of the room if we hope to find solutions. Today, moderates are too often not welcome – in either political party. Moderation is a vital factor in solving our problems, as it is in most human endeavors. There’s a time to be stubborn and a time to be intelligent. We have plenty of intelligence in our population. We need more of it in all three branches of government – Congress, administration and the courts.

We can’t solve today’s problems if we focus only on our own interests, if we pay attention only to those information sources that reinforce our own prejudices. We must pay more attention to the interests of others and, most importantly, to the interests of the nation.

America is, indeed, a problem-solving nation. Unfortunately, too many of today’s political leaders are content to make problems even worse if, by doing so, they can gain political advantage. That is not the American way.

The American people know how to solve problems. Problem-solving is what we do every day within our families, our businesses, our churches and our social institutions.

We have every right to insist that those who stand in the way of solving America’s problems move aside so that more rational, moderate and solution-oriented leaders can take their places. Americans solve problems. Political obstruction is a problem we can solve.

Scott Howell is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Utah.

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