I wouldn't be honest if I didn't also write a bit about some other thoughts that occurred to me as I spent quite the largest amount of time repeating to myself, over and over again, how beautiful was the warmth, the lush flora, and the time and space away. While the Disney World resorts are certainly a testimony to the imagination, dogged determination, salesmanship, and tenacity of Walt and Roy Disney, it goes without saying that the thousands of visitors the parks have each day would be impossible without the direct intervention local, state, and federal governments, ensuring everything from a well-maintained interstate highway system and safe air travel to the basic minimal standards for healthy food and drink right through the triumphs of Rural Electrification and, in particular as we drove through southern Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority, made me grateful that I live in a country that, once upon a time, believed it possible that we could, together, make our country better through concerted action directed from the state.
To all those who believe that state intervention in our society has been an unmitigated curse, devoutly to be dismantled at every opportunity, I would offer he vision of America without health and safety regulations regarding food and water, workplace safety, maximum hour and child labor laws, without the extension of electricity to vast swaths of unserved areas due to its lack of economic viability. The interstate highway system, the long-time dream of Dwight Eisenhower, is still a marvel, making our trip south a matter of a mere couple days rather than several fraught with uncertain conditions and poorly regulated accommodations in out of the way places. That so many insist that all of this has been a nightmare from which we need to awaken; or that we no longer can achieve so much more than we already have, due to the temporary dislocations of a sagging economy are testimony to a basic failure of nerve, a refusal to believe that America can, indeed, be great provided we not succumb to fear and a sense of failure.
Ours is a great nation in no small measure because we believed, once upon a time, that we deserved better, and together could work to realize it. We are ill-served by political leaders who insist this is no longer possible, that even to broach the possibility of improving our country is a danger to other values that our current state certainly doesn't bear out in practice. Unlike so many voices that insist that thus-and-such cannot be done, or should not be done, I believe that improving and enhancing our physical infrastructure, ensuring safe food and clean water, ensuring safe travel, and giving to all people the opportunity to work with dignity for better wages are not only possible, but necessary to remind us that we are, indeed, a great land who brightest days do not lie in the past, but in the years and decades to come.
I find it interesting that the prophets of failure, those who insist that we simply cannot do what needs to be done to make our land even better claim, with a straight face, they love America better than others, when their actions and words reflect a fundamental lack of faith in the American people and our ability to achieve so much. We are, and always have been, better than that, and deserve so much more than we currently have in our elected officials in any party currently walking the halls of the Capitol and Executive offices in Washington.
I find a lack of any sense of gratitude for those who worked so hard before us in the attitude that insists we simply cannot do what needs to be done to get this country running again, to improve our roads and our food supply, make water no longer a commodity that we buy but something available in every home by turning a handle on a tap. We owe to them, as well as to our children and grandchildren not yet born, a faith in the possibility that ours is, indeed, a great land, a great people, who can do so much if given the tools and opportunity to do it. Our prophets of failure undermine their own professed patriotism each and every time they open their mouths and insist that we, as a people, cannot do something we all know needs to be done. For all they claim to believe in certain exceptional American qualities, they sound far too often like those exceptional qualities are a dismal refusal to believe that anything at all can be done, that failure, second-rank status is our allotted place in the world, and that our best days are in a distant past.