Baby Boomers views on finding common ground in our democracy

By Wayne W. Clark PhD and Woodrow W. Clark II MA3 PhD

When we first started writing the most recent blog, we were overly optimistic about how the US could regain its place in the world. We thought based on the November 2020 elections that we could start anew with a sense of purpose and a plan for action. Our goal for taking the “high road” was to respectfully find common ground. Then enact ways to compromise and maintain civility while accentuating the positive on all levels of political discourse. The result was in identifying our common enemies and agreeing on solutions for everyone in the US and around the world.

Then the “rug started to be pulled out” from under the idea that there needs to be compromise and a search for common ground of shared visions. US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (Head of the Republican majority in the US Senate) and the current US President with other Republicans picked up where they had left off after packing the US court systems with conservative judges. These hardball tactics are now being used to deny the result of the Presidential Election on Tuesday 3 November 2020. McConnell felt that if he gives an inch, he could lose his majority power in the Senate. Therefore, he pushed back and started to stonewall and stagnate historic democratic practices. McConnell takes the stance of denial for the Democrat outcome of the Presidential election which as the top majority Senate in the US where Republicans who had enabled Trump’s Presidential Agenda. The current “stonewall” that Trump and McConnell are standing firm on is blocking legislation that would mitigate economic consequences of the COVID pandemic. It is sad to see that McConnell along with Trump, think the only way to maintain their power in the Senate and Presidency is to make democracy appear “ineffective”. They both do not believe in “checks and balances” as they create ways to defeat legislative stimulus packages to improve economic recovery. It is clear that the former President has not acted alone in these political positions. Both of them have not been transparent but instead are enablers using their remaining authority to defeat the potential for US citizens to rise above partisan politics.

America now has a serious Constitutional and democratic crisis wherein the “checks and balances” have become “denial and stagnation”. This is unacceptable. The questions are two-fold: 1) Will some members of the Executive and Senate branches rise above partisanship to save our democracy? or 2) Will the hard ball forces in those institutions destroy our democracy? For now, the forces for traditional constitutional democratic processes are moving ahead by “taking the high road” and by seeking common ground. The fear we have is that the forces of denial and stagnation are the stonewallers, and the hardball players digging a grave for all democratic nations. Yet we have hope. Here are ways on how we think we can first of all get through this “global pandemic”, while also creating an economic recovery, and overcome the challenges to our democracy as well as other nations around the world.

The US just showed the world that democracy does work. We had over 147 million citizens vote in our recent November 2020 elections. We had winners and we had losers. However, we have some serious existential problems to work on that remain. We have voted, the first step, now we need to roll up our sleeves and take the “High Road” to maintain our democracy. The election showed that regardless of which side you are on, over 68% of eligible voters agree to maintain our democracy. Americans voted in droves as both sides beat the bushes. We were supposedly a divided nation, but we did agree on one basic principle of democracy, to vote. That is the first important step to show ourselves and the world that citizens in a democracy have a responsibility to others in our nation by participating in the solutions to our problems.

In short, there is a solution to conflict, so we voted in unprecedented numbers setting a new record high percentage of our population. We demonstrated that people cared that we have a recognizable, acceptable means of solving problems. Hence, we have elections, and we vote. A major “High Road” step forward. Now we need to hold those we elected accountable for solving the major challenges of our time. The pandemic has resulted in the deaths of over 260,000 Americans. We need to control COVID and prepare for other pandemics. The failure of current Federal health policies in denying there is a pandemic also has resulted in an imminent collapse in our economy. Our Federal government policy stalemate position also is present in the lack of climate policies to join the world in saving our planet. Discrimination in our society has reared its ugly head causing citizens to take up the banner for social justice through movements such as Black Lives Matter. Our legal system of justice continues to show weakness in our police protection, criminal justice, and court systems. We must find common ground and take the High Road to save and protect all our people, our planet, our economy, and our sense of equality.

These challenges are our first tier of issues needing resolution. There are other tiers that need attention which with careful negotiation can be woven into the solutions of the first tier of problems. For instance, funding for the rebuilding of our infrastructures is a natural fit for Federal funds to go to state and local entities that will create local jobs for the unemployed or underemployed as well as rebuild our highways, parks, and buildings. Other important priorities that can be woven into the First Tier problems which are: (a) assuring all citizens have health care; (b) settling on who are our citizens; (c) helping those who want to actually become citizens; (d) examining our election practices; (e) reestablishing a fair legal system for all; (f) making sure that those most fortunate pay their fair share for building and maintaining our democracy, and there are more.

We think there is common ground for accomplishing policy solutions in the First Tier of challenges. That can be done by rolling up our sleeves, working together, and taking the “high road.” Stagnation is unacceptable. We will have to give and take. Even though we might not get exactly all that we want, we can at least agree to keep our democracy thriving and an example to the world. Our next paper is focused on the Second – Fourth Tiers which get into the details of public and private governance policies. And even more relative now is “economics”. In particular economics needs to change from a “linear” perspective of “supply and demand” into a “circular economics” (CE) which has the government as a partner in the economic recovery and sustainable planet we all aspire to. The CE paradigm is being enacted by other nations, but not yet the United States of America. So, stay tuned for more on CE in our next papers.

(*) Wayne W. Clark, PhD [email protected] and Woodrow W. Clark II,MA, PhD [email protected]