As we celebrate our nation’s birthday this July Fourth, many here in Wilton Manors are faced with a very uncertain future. As Senate Leader Mitch McConnell tries to get away with dumping millions of Americans off of their healthcare insurance, wheeling and dealing in the back rooms of the Senate, many here in our Island City are bracing for the worst.

Plenty of residents in their 50’s and 60’s, who use to flaunt their, ‘still not ready for Tropics’ status,’ are now finding that being too young for Medicare will be a very costly and possibly lethal reality. Many in that age group will be faced with much higher healthcare cost that will be unaffordable. Residents living with HIV and chronic diseases will find themselves in limbo for the unforeseeable future. As more and more burdens are placed on the shoulders of our state and local governments by our national leaders looking to rid themselves of the Affordable Care Act, many benefits and treatments will no longer be available. But that is no concern to our Republican leadership in Washington, as one was heard speaking away from the microphones, “Stop your crying already, it’s the sign of the times.”

Well I think it’s time for citizens to come together in massive numbers and demand the change we need. Change is hard. Change is scary for many. Change means uncertainty. However, without change, things become obsolete, outmoded and like millions of Americans, just cast aside

As the cost and financial burden of much of what is being neglected at the national level is dumped on the backs of state and local governments, what budgetary changes will have to be made to deal with the extra cost?

Libraries, social services, education, infrastructure, the money has to come from somewhere. Unfortunately it will not be coming from the wealthy 1 percent, since our Republican leadership hands over enormous tax cuts to the rich under the new plan.

Here in Wilton Manors and throughout local, county and state governments, its budget season. The proposed fiscal year 2017-2018 budget for our Island City has been distributed to elected officials and to the Budget Review Advisory Committee members. Meetings and workshops will held throughout the summer, which will lead to Public Hearings and final approval of the budget sometime in September. As federal and state governments keep shedding their responsibilities, the buck usually stops at county and local government’s doorstep to pick up the price tag. Drug addiction, education, homelessness, law enforcement, social services are all necessary and costly items for our society. Each time the federal government cuts benefits along with cutting taxes for the wealthy 1 percent, local budgets are faced with carrying a much heavier burden. Unfortunately we on the local level see the horrors of such carelessness. We see our loved ones denied healthcare, we see our friends unable to receive treatment for substance abuse, we see our children attending failing schools, we see local services struggling due to lack of funding.

As our President tweets to just repeal now and replace later, a much different reality is faced by many residents here in Wilton Manors. Repeal now will mean residents living with HIV, pre-existing conditions, those in need of affordable health care will immediately be faced with a very uncertain and bleak tomorrow.

This is not the America I grew up believing in. This is not the America I want to see moving forward. This is not the sign of the times.

As our democracy comes closer and closer to becoming the new American Oligarchy, where the despotic wealthy 1 percent control our government and society, we must drastically change course or cease to be the great nation we come together and celebrate this Fourth of July. We need new leadership that will answer the demands for better healthcare not less healthcare, for better education not better prisons, for more affordable housing not more vacation homes for the wealthy, and for working Americans families struggling on low wages not the CEO’s who make millions a year by keeping workers’ wages low.

The choice is very clear to me on how to leave the world a better place than how I found it. We are at the proverbial fork in the road. Hopefully, you will find a similar path, and together we will make the necessary changes as we move ahead together. Our Founding Fathers made some radical choices over 240 years ago that changed the course of history, but in the end, delivered to us the greatest nation in the world. Are you ready to make some radical choices, to bring about change and to make life just a little bit better here?