To assure the future health of the core values of America, the freedom of the individual and of the economy, Americans have no long-term effective option but to adopt such reforms as universal single-payer healthcare, affordable higher education, and the Green New Deal, which are by nature socialistic, though they have company in the public school system and other institutions widely enjoyed by Americans.
To clarify: some people find it convenient to yell about the authoritarian governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and the Soviet Union when people broach this topic. This is a false and misleading comparison. Not only are the proponents of such reforms more committed to an open and fair democracy than many of their detractors, the reforms themselves would be considered moderate and common sense in just about any other developed nation. The fact that the situation is otherwise in the US is evidence of a political landscape in which the center is skewed to the right compared to the rest of the world and a simplistic view of free-market economics is taken as truth and evidence that necessary reforms are not, in fact, needed.
The fact is, the founding ideals of America come from an era when the common American was a self-sufficient farmer. This is not to insult either those ideals or the last two centuries of progress in living conditions, but ever since the Industrial Revolution, the hands-off approach of past years just doesn’t work.
Imagine you are a bright young software engineer with an idea for the next big app and the drive to act on your dream. In other words, you are the American dream embodied. There’s only one problem: you need to quit your job to start your own business, and your health insurance comes from your employer. To make matters worse, you’re a Type 1 diabetic, and for your entire life you have to take insulin or you will die. You get insulin through your health insurance. Unless your app yields money fast, you will die if you quit your current job. See why people can’t work to their full potential in our current system?
Society and innovation are also stifled by the college debt crisis, which has its roots in exorbitant tuition rates and predatory loan schemes. The point of higher education is that those who undertake it go on to change the world for the better. When large portions of the population cannot afford to improve themselves without taking on so much debt that they are hindered for life, society suffers and change is necessary. Affordable (not necessarily free) college would soon pay for itself in contributions back to American society.
Finally and most importantly, we must assure that climate change does not erase centuries of human progress. Considering we are at the dawn of the last decade left to reverse our climate crisis, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we do not have time left for the incremental, small-minded band-aids that are the “sensible” approaches to tackling the most severe threat humanity has faced since long before we knew why rain happened. Yes, a mobilization on the scale necessary to solve this will be expensive. Guess what else is expensive? The collapse of ecological systems that sustain the most basic aspects of our civilization even by the time today’s teenagers reach retirement age. We have reached the point where it is quite reasonable and accurate to say that any delay in an effective response is a condemnation of the world we live in to roast in the fires of our own creation.