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BRIAN KIERAN
BRIAN KIERAN

The American Health Care Act, the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, faltered in Congress. Although Republicans are in the majority, they didn’t have the votes for its passage. This rebuke of President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan was possible because some Republican legislators are unwilling to hurt poor and working class Americans just so Mr. Trump can tweet “victory.”

The defeat has been described as “devastating” for the new Republican Right agenda since the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare was instrumental to Mr. Trump’s win in November. A defeat will not derail the Trump agenda since, as Mr. Trump has explained, “the art of the deal” includes being able to “walk away from the table” when necessary.

The real problem is that our elected leaders are more concerned in these contests of wills and struggles about power than solutions for problems. President Obama promised to address the crisis of uninsured Americans and passed Obamacare. It also help stabilize the cost of healthcare.

President Trump seized Obamacare as a thing to attack and he thoroughly demonized the plan without explaining how he would take care of Americans who need health insurance if the ACA were repealed.

Mr. Trump demonized immigration and promised to “build a wall” which would be paid for by Mexico. His budget calls for a 30-foot-high wall through the desert for which the American people will pay billions. It would be better to spend billions to explain and educate the American people about the needs and wants of society and the cost-effectiveness of different plans to address those needs and wants.

An educated American citizen informed by responsible media and informative addresses from elected officials would be better able to decide what is in the best interests of America. Spending billions on education before spending additional billions on military technology would be a good place to start.

Mr. Trump seemingly is turning his back on education but liberty and learning are inextricably connected in a free society. If we wish to remain free and independent, the most insidious dangers lurk within, not without.

Mr. Trump proposes to defund the Department of Education and chose a secretary of education who is a billionaire dilettante with no experience as an educator. However, his budget will spend additional tens of billions on the military on top of the hundreds of billions spent every year. America would be better protected and better served if we had 10,000 more teachers, 10,000 more doctors and 10,000 more engineers than 100 more of the latest jet fighters.

President Kennedy addressed Vanderbilt University almost 55 years ago and said to graduates, “Liberty without learning is always in peril, and learning without liberty is always in vain.”

He told them that they had responsibilities to use their talents for the benefit of the society that helped them develop those talents. He spoke of the “special obligations incumbent upon an educated citizen” to promote the pursuit of learning, to be mindful of the obligation to serve the public as well as to uphold the law.

We the people, whether from receipt of a good education or from the protection provided by the service of our men and women in the armed forces, have benefitted from living in this grand republic.

The privileges enjoyed must be commensurate with the obligations accepted. The protection of our rights will endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities as citizens. The obligations can be neglected only at the peril of the loss of the privileges.

We must insist on fairness, responsibility and dedication to duty which unfortunately our leaders seem to ignore every day. It is time to work together and to forsake sensational rhetoric aimed at the emotions of the people and to concentrate on practical improvements to society, both great and small, needed by the people.

The people of this great nation need education, health care, employment and fiscal responsibility. We have been given much and “for those to whom much is given, much is required.” President Trump and the legislators in Congress need to become men and women who work for the nation and for the people, and not for a headline or reelection.

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