Effort seeks to recapture U.S. ideals.
Because the new Congress has failed to meet voter expectations and has approval ratings lower than those of President Bush, a citizen-led movement is afoot to pull together a national coalition striving to outline goals for change within local and federal governments.
Concerned citizens are implementing a grass-roots political movement known as American Solutions, and are working tirelessly to improve leadership. The goal is to create a positive change concerning significant issues facing local communities.
On Sept. 29, activists and concerned citizens across America will engage in a national town hall known as "Solutions Day." Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his team have organized this nonpartisan effort.
The idea is to hold a series of workshops striving to take back the increasingly monolithic, bureaucratic government by making leadership more responsive and accountable to voters. Workshop topics include education reform, Social Security reform and tax reform, to name a few.
Interestingly, the American Solutions campaign will launch right in the midst of one of the biggest debates Lane County has ever faced. Over the last decade, Lane County has endlessly struggled with the divisive issue of how to restore revenues that formerly flowed from our federally managed natural resources - revenues essential to our public safety services, health care programs, roads and much more.
Some Lane County residents may know about the arguments enveloping the Northwest Forest Plan, as well as the federal Bureau of Land Management's recent release of plans that aim to achieve a compromise among different federal acts, including the O&C Lands Act and the Endangered Species Act.
American Solutions will address such issues as why government should use tax bases wisely to restore economic benefits to local communities devastated by bankrupt policies. This movement is a perfect opportunity to get involved and change the local leadership and the failing government system voters are forced to abide by - particularly on an issue as close to home as forest lands management.
This new direction will not come from attorneys who pursue endless litigation and tie up local tax bases in the courts while government services and leaders go begging. Communities like Lane County are suffering, and the bureaucracy has not - and will not - generate appropriate action.
That is why Gingrich and the American Solutions movement are asking Americans to identify what they expect from their government so that basic American values such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be restored - principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
Such a popular movement that asks for fundamental change must focus on all of the nation's 511,000-plus elected officials, from school board members to county commissioners, from city councilors to state legislators, and including federal office-holders.
In Eugene, team leader Bob Avery is looking for vigorous, enthusiastic folks who can work in a nonpartisan structure and propose necessary changes on a national and local level. It is a critical time in our country's history to take back control of our government and create a new vision.
Avery explains, "Americans are overwhelmingly demanding transformation in both Washington, D.C., and in Oregon. The old red vs. blue will not accomplish the changes needed. Our country works best when `we the people' work together to generate solutions for the challenges of today."
For years U.S. politics has been dominated by forces that promote increased bureaucracies, anti-business groups that favor administrators over entrepreneurs, and organizations that prefer redistribution to economic growth - all while denying the American value of cherishing individual liberty.
These forces have tried to secularize American culture, rejecting the lessons of American civilization and fearing America more than her enemies. Creating a fundamental replacement for the intellectual structure that underlies current policies will take an even more robust intellectual effort.
Ronald Reagan said, "Our message should be five simple familiar words. No big economic theories. No sermons on political philosophy. Just five short words: family, work, neighborhood, freedom and peace."
Participation requires a commitment from all who are truly concerned about their community and country. The purpose is clear and the goals are attainable, but only if citizens are willing to move forward and act.
It's time to roll up our sleeves and take our community in a positive direction. History is made by those who choose to show up and participate in new movements such as American Solutions.
Suzanne Penegor of Eugene is the owner of a local trucking and logging company. Gienie Assink of Springfield is a student and a member of the Rubicon Society of Lane County. Information on the Sept. 29 workshop in Eugene can be found at www.americansolutions.com or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.