Pillars for a Better America, Chapter 6

A Series on Priorities for the Biden Administration


It’s Primary Day in Georgia

We are all tuned into Georgia now for sure. Who could have ever foreseen this turn of events? Certainly not I. It has been quite the roller coaster. How that set of races go will determine how much will be accomplished.

Too close to call and it still feels like a pair of Hail Mary passes, but it is at least possible. I have new respect for Tracy Abrams as an organizer. What they have done in Georgia is nothing short of remarkable. We need an organization like this in every state, in every community. Tracy for Party Chair? At least as national coordinator for Get Out the Vote.

Let’s move on with our pillars list.

Pillars for a Better America – Pillars 14-15

By now, the standard introduction: This Pillars list will run up until inauguration week. It is not all inclusive, nor is it presented in priority order. These are all important choices for the Biden administration to tackle. They can figure out the best sequence.

The list is a mix of domestic and international, of national and regional/local issues. The list exists to call out our requirements and shortfalls. It is also exists to encourage dialogue about what we want to be as a country. We have important work calling out to all of us.

What Do We Have So Far?

We have about two-thirds of the 21 pillars identified:

Pillar 1: Hunger is Not Allowed
Pillar 2: Affordable Medical Care and Drugs – No More Excuses
Pillar 3: The Ghost of FDR for Infrastructure and Broad Band
Pillar 4: Benchmarks for Advancing Out of Poverty
Pillar 5: Civil Policing
Pillar 6: Court and Penal Reforms
Pillar 7: Transportation
Pillar 8: Education Costs and Access
Pillar 9: Education for Thinking
Pillar 10: Campaign Reform
Pillar 11: Childcare
Pillar 12: Medical Breakthroughs
Pillar 13: The Environment

Here we go, the next two.

Pillar 14: Civics + Civil Discourse

This is both an old problem and a newer one.

Once upon a time, civics was a standard curriculum item in schools. It is my understanding that is no longer the case for the most – and it shows. The lack of understanding about how we govern ourselves and how we fit in the world is appalling. You probably heard about the newly elected senator from Alabama. He couldn’t identify the three branches of government. I am sure most people have no idea what is meant by the Fourth Estate. I once had a freshman congressman ask me what the capital of Africa was. Immigrants who become citizens have this kind of basic information down cold. So, too, should the rest of us.

The newer problem is how we might have civil discourse with those we disagree with. An old problem, but one we are only now focusing on. We are never going to turn America into one big Coke “Save the World” commercial. Still, if we don’t get better at talking to and listening to each other, this ends badly.

We risk starting to look like a blend of the Middle East and Northern Ireland of a few years ago. Government cannot solve this – this one is up to us. But government can set the example, and Biden intends to do exactly that. It could help. This deserves all our attention, one citizen at a time.

Pillar 15: Election Security + Voter Protection/Access

How’s that for a timely topic? The national election is just weeks behind us and the Georgia run off happening today. Good time to focus on elections. We came out better than we might have hoped. Electronic security, thanks to some dedicated folks, did pretty well. Of course, Trump fired the leader of that effort. Paper backups seem to be an essential for some time to come, among other lessons.

But it is still far too easy to enter our voting systems, for monitoring or mischief. We need much tighter security, available at all levels. Time for a REALLY heavy price inflicted on those who would mess with us. This needs to be a priority in part to ensure secure elections. But important also to assure citizens that elections are secure. Too many people are being fed too many conspiracy stories.

The thornier problem is ensuring people have the right to vote. That they can do so reasonably, safely, and quickly. The problem, of course, is that a lot of politicians see this not as a goal, but as a problem. Too much is left to local authorities. We need a National Voters Bill of Rights. That includes automatic registration, easy online and in person voting. It also includes maximum allowed times in line, and more.

Whether you can vote or not should not depend on where you live. You are an American citizen. No one should be able to cut you off from this most essential civic responsibility.

We Are Coming Up on the Home Stretch of Our Pillars List

Fifteen pillars identified, only six more to go. Wonder what they are, those remaining pillars? Of course, we could justas easily have a list of 100 pillars, couldn’t we? So much to be done.

Please continue to share your thoughts, especially online in the COMMENT section. I appreciate what has already been shared, in comments and via email.

Fifteen days until the inauguration. Stay safe.

       Bill Clontz

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