Our Path To Success In The 2020s

By Dennis Church, EcoIQ

This overview introduces a series of articles to be published here in the months ahead that will focus on how the United States can achieve success in the 2020s.

Success means a real improvement in both present conditions and future prospects for our citizens. It also means that we pass the test of basic adequacy on issues where part way isn't good enough, like avoiding nuclear war or stopping climate change.

To achieve success, we must restore functionality to our democracy and to our institutions generally. This means specifically the ability to distinguish facts from falsehoods, the ability to focus our attention on the most important problems and the most promising opportunities, and vitally, the ability to sustain a coherent agenda over the decades that will be required to address our most important challenges. Tacking back and forth with every shift in political party control takes us ever deeper into failure.

To achieve success we must overcome the pervasive cynicism and lack of trust that surrounds us today and that disables so many of our institutions. Because there is so little trust, and because there is so much hostility, our programs must be designed to produce immediate and visible improvements in the day-to-day lives of everyone. Sacrifice now to benefit later is unlikely to be a winning battle cry.

There are many ways to describe a winning agenda. I'll develop elements of that agenda under the four headings below. These suggestions at first reading may sound like pablum, like aspirations lacking a way to get there from here. Practical paths to achieve these aspirations must be invented, and it is my hope that the articles in this section will contribute to our dialogue on how best to go forward.

1. Promote & Guide National Reconciliation

Nothing of real importance is likely to be possible as long as we remain so bitterly divided, unable to even talk reasonably about many things. Reducing polarization, and particularly reducing the hostility, vilification, and attribution of evil that poisons our self-government, is essential to the rest of our agenda. We don't need, or at least shouldn't expect, some sort of national kumbaya moment. Modest initial expectations are important because this will be hard. But without real progress on this front, we'll fall short everywhere else.

2. Renovate & Strengthen Democracy

Parallel with national reconciliation must be a top-to-bottom renovation of our democracy. True equality of voting rights is still far away, and many red states seem intent on obstructing voting as part of an effort to block majority rule. We have underinvested in our democracy for decades. We don't make registration and voting easy and universal, when we could easily do so. The actual mechanisms, the voting places, voting machines, and election security systems are too often antiquated or broken down. And even when the equipment works, the entire process is often managed to make voting more difficult in the areas most likely to vote for Democrats. Civics and history education is withered and grossly inadequate, and we are constantly barraged with bad faith propaganda that makes politics feel dirty and makes people feel that participation requires diving into a revolting pit of dishonesty and corruption. We don't do much of anything in our democratic system very well. The agenda of needed changes is long and complex, but at root, it amounts to investing far more of our time, energy and attention to making the political system work much more like we all know it should.

3. Zero Unemployment: A Job For Everyone

There is simply no good reason that we cannot create a reality in which everyone can get a job that pays a living wage with decent benefits. We have a ton of work that needs doing and millions of people eager to work. That we cannot find a way to combine the two to make us all better off is a gross failure of imagination. Nothing would do more to reduce anger and help heal our political wounds than a job for everyone that needs one. Consider this today's version of "a chicken in every pot."

4. Better Protect Our Safety & Health

We all seem to agree that protecting public safety and health is a core mission of government. And yet, everywhere we look, threats are mounting. Climate chaos, exploding debt, growing military budgets and war threats, financial system instability, the great (and ongoing) Pandemic of 2020, policing our own communities as if they were foreign war zones, many more people without basic health care, the list goes on and on. Resetting priorities to focus our resources on the biggest threats is essential to keeping all of us safe and healthy.

More to comeā€¦

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