Another year has almost come and gone, but America is somehow still stagnating in many of the same problems it's been facing for decades (or at least since the run-up to the 2016 election). So as we prepare for 2020, here are a few things I'd like to see happen in the Land of the Free.
1. Less divisiveness.
The world of politics has never been squeaky clean, but it's never been this dirty either. Heated debates and mudslinging are to be expected, but today's political climate is nothing but pure hatred for the other side.
2. A leader who puts country before ego.
Love him or hate him, Trump is a narcissist. It's indisputable. It's not healthy for him, for us, or the country.
3. ... And before social media.
None of us ever thought the President of the United States would be name-calling, pointing fingers, and making accusations over social media. But that's where we've landed and it's downright embarrassing.
4. Fewer reality shows.
Remember the days of TGIF? Television theme songs? Actual plotlines? Bring them back, and bury "The Bachelor" so far underground that no one ever speaks of it again.
5. Less driving.
Let's face it: Americans are lazy. It's true that most of our cities aren't designed around a public transport system, but most people still choose to drive when they could easily walk or cycle. Changing this will benefit your body, your pocketbook, and the environment. It's a win-win-win.
6. More reading.
Our attention spans are so minuscule these days that websites now inform us how long it will take to read the text on the page. Roughly one-quarter of Americans say they haven't read a book in the past year. Trade in Twitter for Tolstoy and learn a thing or two.
7. Politicians who act like adults.
The childish antics taking place on Capitol Hill every day make your average toddler look dignified, debonaire, and perfectly qualified to run for office.
8. Snowflakes need to toughen up.
Everyone is offended all the time, about something. The dumbest of things. Stop being so fragile about stupid stuff and start inspiring the change you want to see.
9. More adoptions.
On any given day, there are 443,000 children in foster care in the US, many of whom need to be adopted. However, most people are tied to the idea that they need a brand new "perfect" baby in order to be happy. So they make their own or pay tens of thousands of dollars for IVF treatments that might not even work. If you have a desire to be a parent, why not help a kid that's already here?
10. Better rules.
You're allowed to walk around town with a gun, but you'll get a ticket if you walk around with a beer – even a Miller Lite, which is basically water.
Speaking of guns ...
11. Gun control.
Every time a mass shooting happens, we play the same record on repeat. It goes something like this: "Thoughts and prayers. Guns don't kill people – people kill people. The NRA is doing good work."
Bullshit, people. We're losing lives needlessly. This isn't working.
We're the only developed country with such staggering gun death numbers. Other countries (like Australia) jumped into action when they saw a problem.
Which brings me to my next point ...
12. A more worldly view.
America is a huge country with vastly different people, geographies, and landscapes. This makes it easy to become extremely insular. However, other countries have good ideas that we could learn from – if we'd only listen.
13. People, not parties.
If politicians ran as human beings, rather than Republican or Democratic puppets, we could all see a lot more clearly and make decisions based on actual principles rather than stubbornness and spite.
14. More focus on foreign languages.
If you've ever traveled to Switzerland or the Netherlands or a plethora of other European countries, you probably realized that just about everyone speaks at least two languages (often many more).
Yet we Americans are only required to take two years of foreign language in high school (usually Spanish). For me, this consisted of watching the movie "Selena" (even though it was in English) and playing BINGO with foreign words. Needless to say, I'm not fluent.
15. Easier access to healthy food.
A hamburger from McDonald's will set you back $1, but organic food will send you into bankruptcy. And then we have to worry about GMOs, which the US embraces and Europe has banned. Remember what I said about America needing to stop and listen to other countries? This is one of those times.
16. Better healthcare options.
It doesn't need to be socialized healthcare – those countries have their problems too. It just needs to be a better system that people can actually afford. I'm not claiming to know the answer, but let's try to find it together in 2020.
17. Improved media.
As a journalist, I can honestly say that US media has become a farce. Gone are the days when coverage was actually neutral. Now there are conservative and liberal networks and newspapers, and reporters who openly express their opinions while "reporting." The US media environment is officially in crisis mode.
18. More kindness.
This isn't just an American problem, but it certainly exists in America. Let's all be more mindful of our surroundings, and lend a hand when we can. Strive to be the best person you can be, even if that means pausing the soundtrack of your busy life while you help your elderly neighbor carry in her groceries.