Reset America – Not Bad, But Necessary

By June 29th, 2020


Blog No 118 
June 30, 2020

 It’s Time to Reset America

READING TIME: Just 5 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at

It is time for America to reset itself.

In many ways, this is not bad, but it is necessary. Upon even passing reflection, such a “reset” can be viewed as an almost inevitable course of correction. And if the word “correction” is too burdened by an implication of error, wrongdoing, or blame, then just use the even more neutral phrase “course of change.”

Our country has been going through a rough time, and nothing in this short article is intended to diminish the many serious crises facing our country or the many Americans who have lost their lives or livelihood over the last months. We all know about, and in varying degrees share, the reality that our country has been enduring a pandemic for nearly five months; and that we suffer from fierce partisan tribalism and racial tensions – again and still.

However, as we try to discuss these subjects which have dominated our Internet, headlines, and Twitter feeds, hundreds of other pressing issues too quickly become a part of our “ya-but” conversations. And it is impossible to simultaneously debate income and wealth inequality, the breakdown of our Congressional bodies, the politicization of our Cabinet Departments and the Supreme Court, gerrymandering, public education, women’s rights and the MeToo movement, civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty, immigration, cybersecurity, health care, term limits, and on and on.

Thus, in a certain respect, the first step is to start regaining our national composure. In that process, we also need to give ourselves a slight break.

Rather than thinking of our nation’s problems as a tiring and unending list, we must recognize that America doesn’t need fixes. It needs a full reset. And this is not unusual. The need for a reset is not a reason for panic. Everyone who has ever played a sport has heard their coach scream at halftime for a team reset. No time to lose control. No need to lose confidence. No place for anger. Just settle down. And go win.

And heaven knows, America, at the age of 231 years, is well past its halftime. There are a lot of different measuring dates, but the Soviet’s try at communism only lasted 72 years. The whole British Empire — with all of its ships and its “sun-never-sets-on” chants — only lasted about 450 years. Even up against the duration of the Roman Empire, America does well. We have been working, expanding, and in many respects improving our nation for almost two and a half centuries. Yes, America, 231 years is a long time. Democracy is wonderful. Capitalism can work. But we have problems, and it is time for a reset.

In a word of caution, this short article can be easily misunderstood. This article is not meant to be a piece of cheerleading. It is meant to present a sobering challenge. It is not meant to suggest that everything will be o.k. It is meant to suggest that we can no longer approach things sequentially. Because there is too much to do. Because enough is enough. Because the time is now.

Thus, we would do better if we view it for what it is – an American reset. We are at some kind of societal half-time. And that is o.k.

It has been 100 years since women got the right to vote. But we must do more and better.

It has been 67 years since Brown vs Board of Education and nearly 55 years since Representative John Lewis, after crossing the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, asked a State Trooper “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?” 

It has been almost a half century since 1968, the last big year of anger and protests – the Tet offensive, the assassinations of Martin and Bobby, and the riots in Chicago (and many other cities).

It has been 40 years since we heard the calming voice of Walter Cronkite give his last news broadcast.

And, possibly most importantly, it has been about a quarter century since technology changed the manner and, for better or worse, the ease of our communications — splintering forever the sources of our news and information. It is no coincidence that both Fox News and MSNBC began the same year – 1996, about 25 years ago.

But regardless, it’s halftime. We have to settle down. Take a breath. The halftime analogy of this short article can definitely spin way out of control, but — in closing – I’d suggest that we are one country, one community, one team. It is up to our leaders to encourage rather than to divide. But it is up to us to demand that they do so. It is up to us to have the confidence to win.

Closing Note: For an interesting, albeit slightly dated, approach to this subject of “reset,” see Professor Larry Sabato’s 1977 book A More Perfect Constitution – 25 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country. It has been years since I corresponded with Professor Sabato, but I remember he and his book to be brilliant. It remains relevant. 



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