America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.