A dozen steps toward a better America
An "ideal" America, of course, could not exist; if a society were truly perfect, any change would by definition be for the worse, yet a society which could never change would be stagnant and boring. Even to approach the "ideal" would require implausible things (the entire Christian Right reading The God Delusion and embracing atheism? Ah, sweet dreams!) So I tried to think of a dozen things which would make America as close as possible to what I consider "ideal" while still being at least somewhat plausibly possible in the real world. These are examples of the kinds of change I consider worth fighting for.
(1) Research and development of medical technology would be fully funded, including embryonic stem-cell research and anti- aging therapies. This is by far the most effective way to reduce human suffering.
(2) Marijuana and prostitution would be legal, regulated, and taxed, like any other kind of business; harder drugs would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The prison population would plummet and the end of the illegal market would de-fund the criminal drug gangs which are devastating our neighbors Mexico and Columbia.
(3) The tax-exempt status of religious entities would end.
(4) High-quality education would become a top priority, to keep our country a leader in a world defined by ever-accelerating technological change. No more talk of teaching ancient Middle Eastern mythology alongside evolution in biology class.
(5) The conservative movement would be a rational interlocutor in a necessary debate about the proper size, scope, and role of government, rather than ranting madly against gays, abortion, secularism, climate science, etc. and whipping up paranoia.
(6) Legislators and judges would never use Leviticus or Sharî'ah as a basis for laws or rulings.
(7) There would be no more prohibition or discrimination against harmless forms of sexuality which merely happen to differ from the preferences of the majority (equal marriage rights for gays, no DADT, etc.).
(8) Foreign policy would be based on building good relationships with democracies which share common interests with us, not on currying favor with gangster-regimes which brutalize their own people and are doomed to collapse in the long run, or with failed societies culturally locked into hatred of modernity.
(9) Farm subsidies would end (in combination with #2 and #3, this would take a huge bite out of the deficit).
(10) Corporate tax policy would reward creation of jobs within the US and penalize transfer of productive activity out of the country.
(11) The colossi of the corporate world would grasp that their own future depends upon a prosperous and healthy nation and planet, and act accordingly (a parasite that kills its host dies with it).
(12) The safety net would resemble what Germany or France have: generous enough to leave no one without medical care or in abject poverty, but not so lavish as to remove incentives to work.