A To Do List for January 21st – Part II

A Wish List for the Day After the Inauguration

Where are We?

I hope you had a pleasant Memorial Day, and that you reflected on what that day means. A lot of what we talk about rests on that foundation of dedication and sacrifice.

Last week I shared with you five of my top ten goals for the Biden administration to pursue. Most of the big items are likely to get done in the first 12-18 months, and not many thereafter. Because of that political reality, setting priorities and timing is essential.

Keep in mind what order all these come in depends on how the election turns out all the way down the ticket. While I would hope all ten make the cut, how to sequence and time them is to be determined.

To recap, we have listed the following so far:

  1. Medicare for All Optional Program
  2. Electoral College Annulment (+ Equal Rights Ammendment)
  3. Executive Action Clean Up List
  4. National Reform of Unemployment and Child Care Programs
  5. Voter Protection, Absentee Voter Access

Let’s Look at the Rest of the List.

  1. Pandemic After Crisis Review and Action List

It is difficult to know where to even start with everything that has gone wrong with this crisis. And still is going wrong. There is a long list of things we know how to do. We understand federal government responsibilities. Yet they did not get done, resulting in terrible costs. Thousands unnecessarily died . The country is a mishmash of policies and priorities. Privateers had a field day selling overpriced necessities. Oversight from the CDC on down repeatedlyfailed. On and on.

You cannot completely overcome stupidity and malfeasance with legislation. But we need to try. A world-class commission and joint hearings are needed. The aim? Determining what laws and requirements would lessen the risk of such systemic failures. We will have other crises like, soon (environmental, terrorists, another pandemic). On top of all this, we slid further from the position of global leader as the world watched all this. The term most often used with America today is “pity.” Let’s face up to the ugly details and do some repairs.

  1. A National Crisis Response Coordination Initiative

This builds on the preceding crisis review. Some states did fine work in the early days of the pandemic, others not so much. Some local governments also excelled. Some businesses  rose to the occasion with innovation and public service. Later, but still helpfully, regional organizations and business sector organizations coordinated efforts.

Now is the time to look back at those relationships and lines of communications. Determine what needs highlighting and reinforcement, and what needs to be scrapped. Waiting for the White House to make a conference call to governors every so often does not cut it. From there, build in training and communications tests to keep the wheels greased.

  1. Abuse of Power Review and Corrections

At first glance, this may seem obvious. Identify the abuses of power by the Trump administration and reverse them. But it is not that simple. This defined task needs to be done, but with the greatest of care. Such an effort could easily turn into revenge porn – not useful even if it makes some of us feel good for a moment.

We need to study what has not happened before, owing to history and our collective sense of a democracy. No such protections exist when the powerful have no sense of governance or history. We need institutionalized protection to minimize this kind of distortion in the future.

One thing that makes this reform difficult is that the problem is not only in the executive branch. Mitch McConnell says his greatest legacy is getting over 200 conservative judges confirmed. Many of them are extremists, have little practical experience, and no professional standing. How do we prevent a one party ruled Senate from doing that?

Just last week they approved a man to one of the most important Court of Appeals in the country. He has never tried a case in court. He has an Unqualified recommendation from the Bar Association. But he was an intern for Comrade Mitch and a vocal Trump supporter. Judgeships are for life. We need to do better than this.

This is a bit of a stretch to put into this discussion, but it is time to look at the Supreme Court appointments as well. It is time to relook lifetime appointments. The current system plays Russian Roulette with one of our most consequential nominations. Based on age, health, and luck one president may appoint half of the supreme court. The next 2-3 presidents may have no opportunity to appoint anyone. It is past time to look at long-term but not unlimited terms for the Court.

  1. Domestic Terrorism and Immigration Reform

These two may seem unrelated at first, but both have domestic security implications. Both bump up against the same centers of political resistance. On domestic terrorism, the evidence is clear. Our greatest internal threat comes from extreme right wing, neo-Nazi, and racists groups. The Trump era encouraged them to come into the daylight. It is common now to see demonstrations with people armed to the teeth. Lately we saw a state capitol, with the legislature in session, stormed by such a group.

That sort of thing is not allowed on the US Capitol; why should it be allowed elsewhere? This is not exercising the Second Amendment. It is trying to intimidate other citizens. Some of these people have ties to groups that meet the criteria of domestic terrorists. Time to make it known their brief moment in the sun is over. To borrow a phrase: lock ‘em up.

Immigration reform is so overdue and so obvious a need. There likely are more than enough votes to pass the kind of package the Gang of Eight tried to pass. Let’s do a comprehensive program that covers everything from border security to Dreamers The incentive for Republicans in Congress to support this? Sign on and let’s get this done as a bipartisan action.

If not, we will have extensive, prime time hearings. In those we will listen to those locked up in cages for months. We will let the people hear those whose children were taken from them. Hear from those exposed to the pandemic with no care. Let them talk to the American people in detail about what you authorized when your party was in power.

  1. Infrastructure Investments

We need to invest in just about everything. The economy needs boosting and nothing does that better than good infrastructure programs. We have long known that we are at third world levels for things like bridges and dams. Roads are not far behind. The pandemic has shown us conclusively that medical infrastructure and broadband are also at the top of that list.

Broadband in particular is essential on a nationwide basis. This is equal to electrifications, phone connections, and the Interstate Highway System. Get this done. Now.

And A Bonus Round

I promised one goal that was not necessarily political, but satisfying. I do not want the Justice Department going after the Trump family. That sort of thing happens too often in other countries when governments change. But I would love to see state and local legal bodies, and the federal prosecutors of NY and FL continue their investigations of the Trump family’s activities.

My bonus wish? A photo of all the key members of the Trump family doing perp walks. I regret to say it has gotten that visceral. These people have darn near ruined my country and profited while doing it. I will pass on revenge, but I do want justice and accountability.

OK, Your Turn

What did I leave out? What do you disagree with? Only 161 days till November 3. Start working on that To Do list.

Bill Clontz, Founder, Agents of Reason   Bill Clontz

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3 replies to A To Do List for January 21st – Part II

  1. HI Bill,
    as always, these are thoughtful posts! I think a few more very important things are needed. Campaign finance reform, and reversing laws that privilege corporations over communities and people. There are land grabs by States to force fracking, for instance, on communities that would like to keep their water drinkable. Potable water is getting scarce on the planet, and it need not be polluted for a short term benefit, such as extracting gas or oil. The consequences will last hundreds of years.

    Dark money in campaigns keeps those powerful corporations in power. It has to stop! Both of these approaches are part of the destruction of our democracy, and our planet.

    • Excellent points, Kris. Could not agree more. Campaign finance reform really is at the heart of so many of these other issues. I fear that given the most recent Supreme Court decisions, it may take yet another constitutional amendment to address this. But surely worth the effort. Thanks for calling this one out.

  2. Until the banking laws, especially what constitutes a bank, and hedge funds are sharply curtailed, nothing will change insofar as inequality in the right to pursue financial freedom. Corporate welfare and the free ride companies get for hiring only part time workers and “independent contractors” must end.

    Yeah I know what you’re saying about revenge but I don’t want to hear about a single Trump administration member getting a pardon. And let the “sovereign” Southern District of New York have at the Trump and Kushner families with no quarter and no mercy.

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