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The Best and Worst of America

Nov 10, 2017 by

Tom Watkins –

Democracy is a process that is not easy to achieve or maintain. The values of democracy and freedom were on my mind Sunday evening as I reflected on President Trump’s trip to Asia and the talk of their being a 50-50 chance of a nuclear war between the US and North Korea.

My thoughts were interrupted by the news flash that there had been yet another mass shooting and killing in Texas. We would learn later that 26 people died including multiple children and an equal number were injured.


When are we going to come together as a nation to address this madness?

Gun Violence is Killing America

An old friend, Scott Badesch, who I knew when he was the United Way President for Palm Beach County while I was the president of the Economic Council, made a powerful and deep comment on our society and gun violence in a Facebook post:

“It’s another normal start of the week in America.  26 killed while they are in Church this week. Three weeks ago, 52 killed in Las Vegas.  Regular responses from national leaders..we are monitoring the position and our prayers are with those who have been killed or wounded.   Then nothing will be done. And by Wednesday, it won’t even be in the news.

To federal elected officials who won’t do anything about the way we have become as a society because you are afraid of being called out by the NRA: Spend a minute thinking what it is going to be like when a pastor and his wife bury their child who died today by a bullet.   Spend a minute thinking this happened in a church and then spend a minute thinking how a family woke up this morning, got dressed in their Sunday best, and drove to Church and then held hands as the shooting occurred.  Now their ride home will be with one less family member.  Spend a minute thinking of how mental illness is not addressed in our nation and how we are becoming one of the most violent countries in the world.  

78 killed by bullets in a month just in a Church and at a concert: Nothing done by elected officials. 12 killed by a terrorist: Billions spent.  To the God I worship, a life loss caused by a crazed gunman is no less a life than one caused lost by an evil terrorist gunned down by a car.  My prayers are directed to all those impacted today by this terrible tragedy. And my prayers are directed to our federal elected officials asking that the NRA doesn’t lead your sense of responsibility but your heart and sense of doing what is right will.   Of course, that suggests you have a heart of caring and want to do what is right.”

Scott has it right. When is enough, enough?

Kevin Fischer

Kevin Fischer, President of Michigan NAMI ( posted on Facebook (an emotional outlet for many): “We have to stop shifting the blame from guns to mental illness every time there’s a mass shooting.  Guns are part of the problem and we’re only lying to ourselves and the public to suggest any different.  And IF the problem is mental illness, why does every ‘repeal and replace’ healthcare proposal threaten—or outright cut—cut mental healthcare funding? WHICH IS IT; YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!”  

The CAPS are Kevin’s and reinforce the anger many feel about our elected officials doing nothing about these senseless killings.

Abby Dart

Abby Dart, a Michigan campaign consultant is fed up with the “it’s not the gun- it’s the people,” nonsensical argument about the insane gun violence in America. She too posted on Facebook: “It’s a cop out to blame gun violence on mental health issues. The U.K. and Australia have their share of individuals with mental health issues but not our share of massive amounts of gun massacres. Plain and simple, they have gotten rid of the guns and we have not. Perhaps not a perfect system but when entire families are being slaughtered as what happened in church yesterday, we must act.”

Sadly, based on our past the inaction as a nation we will bemoan the innocent loss of life— and do nothing. 

Closer to Home, Democracy Prevails

Democracy is not a spectator sport and locally many came out to ensure four bright, capable, decent public officials were re-elected. All of us who live in these cities, (for that matter in this state and nation) are better off because these individuals were returned to office. It is truly a testimony to democracy (and brilliant campaigns) at work.

These local metro Detroit area mayors are adding value, making a difference and were returned to office for their efforts.  Mayors Bill Wild, Jack O’Reilly, Mike Duggan and Daniel Paletko are among the most respected and hard-working city officials in America.

Cities are the incubator of innovation and democracy at work. These four gentlemen and the people they have around them are adding value and making a difference.

They and their teams give me hope that in spite of the challenges we have at the international, national and state level, we have good people at the local level who love democracy and are working to make the world a better place one individual, family, neighborhood, community and city at a time.

Tom Watkins is a business and educational consultant in the US and China. He has served the citizens of Michigan in multiple capacities including state superintendent of schools and state mental health director. He can be emailed at:, or followed on twitter at:@tdwatkins88

Source: The Best and Worst of America

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