When President John F. Kennedy changed the tax structure to lower the highest marginal rates, while closing loopholes, it was effective because it was a balance of the right amount and in the right way. It was a confluence of fairness, equitability, and accountability that led to economic stimulus. But, numbers alone are not why our economy stabilized and grew; Kennedy also instilled a vision that Americans could share, so that equal parts of sacrifice, generosity, and prosperity would comingle in a united concept of greatness.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
That was not a call from President Kennedy simply to diminish social responsibility from government; it was a call for participation with compassion and personal responsibility so that better government can prevail for all of us. It was his vision that we could create something better, together.
Today, as we argue over budgets, bottom lines, and what does, and does not, comprise fiscal responsibility, we must be mindful of the fact that our success, regardless of who wins seats in the House, the Senate, or the White House, is contingent upon our goal; an inspired purpose for our communities and our nation.
That is a big concept, and there will be many shades of grey in the realization of what it means to be great, but just as Kennedy’s call to action was not a litany of demands or even ideas, our “vision” can also inspire us to unite in an ideal to create a greater community with prosperity, peace, and justice.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was our founding ideal, echoed by Kennedy nearly 200 years later. We can do the same. May I offer:
“Let us look to ourselves to better our communities, with a resolve to secure justice, for the purpose of peace, and to reap the reward of being united in the cause of freedom.”