America has been a country capable of great and (if we are honest) terrible things, and a lot of mediocre thrown in there, too. Relax patriots, there's nothing wrong with being honest about great things like national parks, land set aside where conservation is the primary land use, defeating Nazis, outlasting the commies, being the first to go to the moon, space exploration in general, creating the internet, ending slavery, seeking a colorblind world, creating an economic pathway that allows for people to move in an upwardly mobile fashion, recognizing and establishing an endangered species law, recognizing the importance of clean air and water and when the opportunity for empire has been cast upon us, we have largely turned away from this enticement.
We also have had our terrible moments, only country to use an atomic bomb (twice, albeit on a country that attacked us first and seemed prepared to go to the last person before quitting what was a failed attempt to defeat us) and the arms build up that followed when we embarked upon a 40-plus year Cold War. Our complete and utter destruction and demoralization of the indigenous population of Native Americans, a prolonged terrible time for our nation. Holding onto slavery long after we declared all men were created equal, another terrible time. Other moments that have been terrible include our blind pursuit of energy at any cost, which has cost us so much of our blessed natural world. And our continued pursuit of certain energy because we've handed over so much wealth to them that they now direct those who are supposed to represent us and so we (the greatest nation on earth) are not free to pursue more sustainable energy sources that already exist and could (save for the meddling of the fossil fuel elite) begin replacing market share of the dirtier energy sources.
And then there is the mediocre, save the creation of the internet, I would dare say that America has been fairly mediocre during my lifespan, we had already been to the moon several times and soon after I was born we stopped going, Watergate happened (which created a strange world where every scandal and nonscandal got a buzzword that ended in gate). The salmon war of the last 20-25 years essentially falls into this mediocre world. We were once a country that tackled problems. Got Nazis? We're storming a beach. Want to go to the moon? We set an arbitrary deadline and beat it by five months. But if you want to save the wild salmon, well, we'll simply mitigate poorly, but well enough to drag this thing out for decades.
We are a great country, I doubt there is a politician out there (who wants to keep his/her job) would say differently. We are just as capable today, as we were in the 1940s and 1960s to take on great problems and solve them. There probably are plenty of politicians out there who would disagree with that statement (as long as they could do it quietly and without notice). Believe me when I tell you this, Americans can solve any problem they are united to solve. If there is a problem that lingers in America, you can bet there is either a plurality or a heavily entrenched and wealthy minority that works to ensure this problem lingers. This is the salmon issue. Two sides, firmly entrenched against one another. One side that essentially is speaking truth to power and another side that is winning constituencies through deceit by telling those who may want wild salmon recovery that they are doing what they can and through ignorance by making the issue far more complicated than it really is.
I promise you America can solve the salmon issue, just as I promise you America can solve the climate change issue, just as I promise you America can solve all of its energy problems with sustainable solutions, just as soon as America unites to solve these problems.
Maybe it is because people identify so much with freedom in these here United States that they see those fighting for wild salmon as on the opposite side of freedom. That is how tree huggers and salmon huggers are typically identified by the opposition. But here is where the truth lies. (Anyone enjoying that phrase as much as I am right now?) Recovering wild salmon, in fact recovering our wild and native fish and wildlife, rivers, forests, deserts, wetlands and meadows will make us more free than any set of politicians entrenched in the word "No" could ever accomplish in 50 generations.
Freedom, boiled down, is truly a life of limitless options. Should America finally get on the same page again (because we have been there before, look into the passage of the Wilderness Act it was thought to be patriotic to vote for that law in the 1960s, today you are considered a borderline commie should you tout wilderness or the recovery of an endangered species no matter what the true inconvenience to modern life it means) we will be more free. We will be more free to determine what our diet shall consist of. Today, farmers, ranchers, corporations and marketers largely determine our diet. As our world loses more and more species to our "progress" we become less and less free. If we restore our wild bounty, we become more and more free.
That is the strategic plan I have for America. I seek my country's return to greatness and I know how we can get there. And I know we can get there, so long as we are united. Ask your representatives what their plan is. Let me know if any of them have any succinct ideas. I would like to hear them. I rarely hear much beyond the din of "No!" we can't do that because those people over there are for that. We are an extremely polarized nation and that is another terrible attribute about us right now. The good thing is, if we actually discussed issues and sought common ground with an eye on actually solving our problems and not using our problems to raise money and get reelected, then we can become great again. And isn't the restoration of America exactly what we've all been wanting our entire lives? Doesn't every American alive today know that our greatness isn't a myth, but a reality that has been achieved through hard work and unity of focus that we have attained and lost over and over throughout our history?
Solve our sustainable energy problem America. Solve our wild salmon/steelhead problem America. Solve our loss of wild species America. Solve the problem of climate change and the challenges we face from it. I know we can. And I'm not going to quit until we do. And when we do, we will be the generation that experienced the greatest level of freedom in American history up to that point. God bless America, we've got work to do.