Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Permit us to wax philosophic about transcendent topics

Published: Sunday, July 7 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

A young man walks with an American Flag at an Independence Day celebration on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Thursday, July 4, 2013, in Philadelphia.

Matt Rourke, AP

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Even as we have celebrated Independence Day, our nation is divided and grumpy over Washington dysfunction, immigration reform, the definition of marriage and other big issues. Thus, partly because our brains are addled by the sweltering heat, and partly because Frank likes to think deep thoughts at least once a decade, we wax philosophic about transcendent topics.

Are America's best days behind her, or does the future bring hope?

Pignanelli: "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy." — Margaret Thatcher

I proudly support the critical objective of this newspaper in promoting civil dialogue, so I will be nice. Anyone who believes that America is destined for a dystopian future of darkness and hopelessness is (I'll refrain from saying a fool) misguided. The "American Century" was not the 20th — when we rose to superpower status midway through — but the 21st when the seeds we planted bear fruit. We are enduring a tremendous debate over immigration reform, because the world still wants to come here!

In my professional, academic, social and family activities, young people surround me. They are oftentimes self-centered, naive, too focused on technology and have strange entertainment habits (i.e.,The Kardashians, uggh!). I share the same complaints every middle-age human had about youth for 10,000 years. But I am absolutely optimistic about our country because the upcoming generations are also practical, tolerant, accepting, entrepreneurial, libertarian, hard-working and dedicated. The baby boomers and my generation are dumping horrible problems on my children and grandchildren. Fortunately, we are raising a great crop of Americans, and they will take this country into unparalleled heights of greatness.

Utah punches above its weight in many categories. Our approach to economic development, government efficiency, technological savvy, healthful lifestyle and commitment to family will be admired and increasingly emulated by other Americans. In my subjective and biased opinion, America's future success is partially driven by Utah values.

Webb: I am ultimately an optimist, but I have grave concerns that, as a nation, we are not grappling responsibly with the big, fundamental problems that threaten the future of our children and grandchildren, and that continue the path of long-term economic malaise.

A little grumpiness is justified because we have truly been through difficult times — the worst economy since the Great Depression, insurmountable deficit and budget problems, and the most dysfunctional Congress and administration that anyone can remember.

But things have been worse for this country, times when the nation's freedom and unity were precarious. We survived those times, and we will get through these difficult times. But I don't believe we will find the solutions in Washington, D.C. We will find them in the states, in the private sector, and in the integrity, strength and moral fiber of the American people.

Are recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions as cataclysmic as some would have us believe?

Pignanelli: For more than 200 years, every thoughtful American has harbored serious issues with the U.S. Supreme Court. Just the concept of nine unelected legal nerds making decisions that impact our daily lives is anathema to our inner core. Liberals and conservatives have much to hate in the recent health care reform and same-sex marriage cases. But both are compelling needed debate on constitutional fundamentals (the extent of the commerce clause and the ability of states to define marriage). These will be ugly, nasty arguments that will only strengthen our democracy.

Webb: Believe it or not, some legal scholars believe the court, overall, is moving in a more conservative direction. When Roe v. Wade was handed down 40 years ago, many people thought the battle for the sanctity of life was lost. But today, most Americans still support limits on abortion, and the debate continues.

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