America's Big Opportunities Lie Ahead

Friday, 16 Nov 2012 12:35 PM

By Fran Tarkenton

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We have so many great opportunities in this country. I really believe we are right on the precipice of reaching a new level of greatness — but it is up to us to make the leap and overcome those last obstacles in our way.
 
It is a realistic goal for us to achieve North American energy independence by 2020 — and maybe sooner. Our energy reserves surpass those of any country, from Saudi Arabia to Russia to Venezuela. Wouldn’t that have been unbelievable just a few years ago?

Energy independence might not bring down the price of oil, but it would certainly help free us from the Middle East and the billions of dollars and thousands of lives we have spent and continue to spend there. And of course, the energy sector jobs that will be created here should be a game changer!
 
We’re living in a technological explosion, from Silicon Valley to Boston and everywhere in between. Our technological and medical advances are the envy of the world. These innovations create jobs for Americans and revenues for the country. But even more importantly, they give us a better, higher quality of life. With our smartphones, tablets, and web developments, we take for granted things that were beyond imagination.
 
Entrepreneurism is exploding in this country. We are finally becoming aware of the power and importance of the small business entrepreneur, the real engine of job growth in America. Entrepreneurism provides everyone the opportunity to live the American dream — whatever your age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or birthplace.
 
All this is happening here in America, and we are right on the brink of an incredible transformation in this country. But it won’t happen on its own. We’ve gotten this far on our own, but to go the rest of the way, we need to fix the poisonous atmosphere in Washington, D.C.
 
I read with great interest comments on Election Day from Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google.
 
“I must confess, I am dreading today’s election,” Brin wrote. “Because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship. It is ironic since whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90 percent of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.

"So my plea to the victors — whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit. It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country.”
 
It’s a nice echo of advice from our first president, George Washington, who warned against the dangers of political parties in his Farewell Address. No hypocrite, Washington remains our only president not to join a political party.
 
Who do our elected officials in Washington represent? Do they represent us, the American people, or do they represent the Democratic and Republican parties?
 
Right now, too many politicians operate on behalf of their parties. It’s all about “winning,” not about helping the American people and doing what’s right. We expect to see candidates disagree during election season, but even after Election Day, they’re divided into separate corners, armed camps, thinking first of ways to outmaneuver the other team.
 
This system rewards the worst and punishes the best. The more partisan you are, the more you fight on behalf of your sect, the likelier you’ll gain power and influence over legislation — and, of course, extra funding for the next political campaign.
 
The less obsessed you are with party, the more you’re willing to work with the other side toward a compromise that works for everyone, the more isolated you are from decision-making. And the next time you’re up for election, expect a challenger in the primary and no support from the party bosses!
 
If these politicians are representing their party and not us, then who do the parties represent? When the parties split off into their separate corners, it becomes easy for big special interests to seize control. So you end up with unions buying power over one side, big business and Wall Street buying another, environmentalists here, and Super PACS there.
 
In this year’s elections, the biggest spenders were Karl Rove’s Crossroads super PAC on the Republican side, and the Service Employees International Union on the Democratic side. The result of all this special interest spending over the decades? Crony capitalism, crony unionism — and just cronyism in general. Whoever wins, We The People lose.
 
But here’s the good news — it doesn’t have to be this way! We’re all on the American Team. But it’s up to us to hold politicians accountable, to be willing to fire them when they don’t represent our interests and instead put party before country. They work for us. It’s up to us to applaud representatives who look for solutions and get things done, and to reject extreme partisanship and party efforts to punish independent thought.
 
I don’t care where an idea comes from — I care whether it helps small businesses and helps Americans. I happened to believe that some of the policies proposed in this year’s election by Republicans would be good for small business, but that does not mean that Republicans are saints, that the GOP is an infallible source of truth and wisdom, or that Democrats are evil or wrongheaded and must be fought at every opportunity. That could not be farther from the truth.
 
I don’t think anyone has a monopoly on truth, and I think we make our best decisions when we come together. We are at our best when the top priority is solving a problem and helping the American people — not when our top priority is beating the other side and scoring a political victory.
 
After almost every election, the winning party tries to use its advantage to create a permanent majority, to destroy its opposition rather than to help the country. I hope this year is different. I hope that in 2013 — and in 2012, too — Democrats and Republicans alike can come together and make the hard decisions that will really move us forward.
 
We’re all on the same team. Get out of your corners and work together.
 
Fran Tarkenton is the Founder and CEO of OneMoreCustomer.com, a web resource for Small Business Advocacy and Education. After his Hall of Fame football career, Fran had a successful career in television and then turned to business. He has founded and built more than 20 successful companies and now spends his time coaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more reports from Fran Tarkenton — Click Here Now.



 
 
 


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