Dreaming of 2021

Like many people, I have had enough of 2020 and am counting on a change this fall that takes us in a new direction. Here are some things I would like that change to bring:

National Leadership to Combat C19

As I think we can all see now, it’s going to take a national strategy to address the C19 — and I mean a national strategy other than sticking your fingers in your ears, squinting your eyes shut, and loudly babbling nonsense to drown out the cries of the people.

A national strategy includes leadership, testing, supply chain, and regulation. When you read books written in WWI or WWII, you read about people who banded together, grew their own vegetables and cut back on meat, sacrificed new clothing purchases, rode bicycles everywhere to conserve gas — all to ensure that resources were available for the war effort that had become the #1 priority.

The right leader could help people see this, mobilize the American machine, and get things done. Words may not be enough – the new President would need to invoke the rule of law, too. Will some small town sheriffs refuse to enforce the laws? Sure, there will always be people who think they are against the law and do what they want because they can. Unless it’s clear that their behavior is immediately endangering the community, you may as well ignore them. Like fractious two-year-olds, all they really want is attention. They’re going to refuse to mask whether it’s the rule of law or not; so you may as well make it the rule of law.

Bring the American People Together

This is, in my mind, the second thing that needs to happen, and I would put it #1 except that C19 overshadows everything else.

For too long, politicians, lobbyists, social media algorithms, and the .01% have pitted us against each other – and we’ve gone along with it becoming more and more separated and disdainful of each other.

The time has come for this to stop. What could a new president do?

  • Talk to Congress. Ask them to put aside partisanship for the sake of the country. Host a series of meetings where they could work on bills that they agree on and get things moving again.
  • Appeal to the media. Ask Oprah to spearhead a series of events designed to get people talking about what they agree on. Get people involved in local government again and become part of the solution instead of the problem. Ask the news channels to dial down the rhetoric. Design new legislation to address the social media issue.
  • Set the example. Walk the walk that is being talked. Instead of poking people, ask them to help you see things through their eyes. Practice empathy. Show your own party that people in the other party are not demons. Teach people how to have conversations with people they don’t understand.

We’ve had almost four years of bad examples. Now is the time to reverse that.

Put Processes in Place to Address Inequality

If this pandemic has done nothing else, it has yanked off the rose-colored glasses that many Americans have been wearing. Now we see that people of color die at far higher rates than white people because people of color are in underpaid “essential” jobs that pay less and that may be all they can get because poor school districts and job discrimination; that they can’t “stay home” from work because they haven’t been able to save for a rainy day; that they are living in substandard housing — and are at risk of losing even that — because of systemic racism; that the food deserts and substandard healthcare that is all they can get increase their medical risk factors; and that they are at greater risk of police abuse and are often the victims of gun violence because of bad gun laws. This has got to stop.

This isn’t a zero sum. Steps taken to address these issues will benefit all people. Make education, health care, housing, and employment more equitable and all will benefit. Fix police violence and implement sensible gun laws, and we will all benefit from safer communities.

In addition, the Federal Government needs to identify and address the domestic terrorism problem – the people who encouraged the shooting of Black church members or mosques, or synagogues. The people who show up at state houses flaunting guns. You want to protest? Fine – but if you bring guns to the protest, we’ll treat you like the terrorists you are. I understand that there are people who like to hunt or sport shoot; and I’m not going to quibble with safe, responsible gun ownership. But bringing a gun to a church, a grocery store, a school, a park, or a protest because it makes you feel cool and important — or appointing yourself the arbiter of who is allowed to walk or jog through your neighborhood —  is childish and makes you look weak and cowardly. Grow up.

Everything Else

There are a lot of other urgent things we need a new President to do – in no particular order, fix the economy, repair international relationships, modernize America’s infrastructure, solve global warming… to name just a few.

All of these are important. But if a president can do just these first three things – or at least set us on a path to fix them – we’ll be off to a good start.

The current administration has shown us what bad government looks like by breaking democracy. It may take more than 4 years to show us what good government can do for us again.

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