Letter: Always strive for better
Reading Tom Balderston’s take on July 1’s “Afternoon of Conversation” at the Aspen Ideas Festival (“Focus on what we’re doing right,” Letters to the Editor, The Aspen Times, July 7) really irked me. Although it took several reads for me to follow his thought train, I think it went something like this: Walter Isaacson didn’t grill his guests to break news in his role as moderator. President Barack Obama has been too negative and unloving of America in his role as president. And Valerie Jarrett should definitely not have defended Obama’s failure to single-handedly resolve 200 years of deeply ingrained racial tensions in his seven years as our first black president.
I’m so tired of the relentless criticism of Obama. When will we focus on what he has done right? What has really happened under his watch? The economy emerged from a calamitous recession, with a stock market still soaring to new historic highs. We are finally on a path to universal health care. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Gay marriage is legal — along with marijuana in several states. Solutions for illegal immigration are progressing beyond the electrified “Great Wall of Texas” option. South Carolina finally took down that stupid Confederate flag. I could go on, but I’d exceed the allowable word count.
Balderston wrote, “The leader, if not this one then the next, must instill in people a positive attitude. He must believe in America. He must be uplifting and leave all negative thoughts or comments on the cutting-room floor.” Yes! Our next president should just parade around with a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner — maybe George W. Bush still has his in the closet somewhere.
Balderston asked, “Would you rather be in any other country than America?” Of course not — and I despise that question. It’s a cop-out. Anyone who poses this question as an answer to those who are striving for better is displaying the opposite of American exceptionalism. America is exceptional, but it didn’t become so by narrowly surpassing some least common denominator. “Focus on what we are doing right” — that may be a fine mantra for Aspenites retiring to a well-deserved life of leisure, sipping organic chai tea on the porch of their first, second or third home. But outside this bubble of privilege, there is still so much to build, repair and change. For that reason, I hope our future leaders will continue to visit Aspen solely for campaign donations — and not for running mates or political advice.