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Councilmember Gene James expressed his opinion in a recent column. I’d like to make some possible alterations to that piece, as others might see the same things he discussed.

On a hot summer day 245 years ago in Philadelphia, these United States of America were declared a nation, independent from the British Monarchy. The parchment of the Declaration of Independence has yellowed and become brittle over time, and this nation seems to be, also.

It is healthy that we are in a perpetual debate about the role of government. To some, the lack of vision and leadership robs us of the opportunities to make our country the best it can be. To others, they prefer to just be left alone.

The longtime debate became even more consequential during the pandemic. Some “others” felt that there was an erosion of the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It was a time of fear and division nationally and even locally. 

Those hard choices come into focus during difficult times. When one’s right to pursue happiness gets in the path of another’s right to life, something has to take precedence. Since “Life” was first on the list, it seems like it should be first supported in policy.

Over the past year, Gov. Newsom used extraordinary leadership in an effort to reduce the great risk of falling to this hundred years’ calamity. By asking people to join together in support of the many difficult choices that were necessary to keep California healthy, he took a lot of heat from many individuals. 

As the most populous state in the nation with population densities that were more prone to transmission of the COVID-19 virus, we had to chart our own path. Some less-populated states chose to do things differently, and some of those paid the price of continuing infections and deaths while California began to turn things around. The governor’s actions should be applauded.

In San Clemente, we need to focus on economic recovery from COVID. With property values rising and tourism and retail establishments really getting going again, this should happen quickly. A well-managed city is prepared for the unexpected, after all.

The best way to heal the divide that has developed is to recall this Independence Day that the brilliant three words that started us on our way 245 years ago were not “Me the special,” they were “We the people.”

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