Friends, neighbors, and countrymen: I am appearing before you to make what may be the most controversial announcement of my career or in fact the career of any American politician in living memory.
Be assured that I do not do this lightly. I do it because we as a nation have no other choice if we want to survive.
We are living in very trying times. We have experienced decades of division in our nation which has reached such corrosive levels that government in effect is hamstrung. On top of that, after three years of a crippling pandemic, we are now faced with aggression in Ukraine perpetrated by an autocrat who is nothing more than a murderer and a thief.
And finally, our children and grandchildren are threatened by our inability to stop global warming. We are already seeing the effects of anthropogenic climate change in droughts, wildfires, flooding, famine, and warfare. It’s only going to get worse unless we work together.
Here in the United States, we’ve only been able to make bipartisan progress on a few issues. A good example of the discord crippling us is the questioning Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson received during her confirmation hearing. Republicans made a mockery of the process.
By acting that way, they showed us that they cannot govern under current circumstances, and they will be no more effective after the mid-terms. Without civil discourse, there are no attempts to find the best solutions to our problems and move forward.
I was elected to be the President of our entire population, not just those who supported a Democrat, and I take that role seriously. I am here to guide the entire nation to the best of my ability, but the division that is generated and maintained by many of your elected representatives is killing us.
That’s why I’m announcing that until the end of my stay in office, I will be devoting much of my time to ending politics as we know it.
If you think I’m just an old radical, that may be so, but let me explain. I’m old enough to remember when news organizations had to provide balanced truthful reporting instead of half-truths, conspiracy theories and outright lies. I’m also radical enough to contend that government in the United States, at all levels, is not practicing what we call “good government.” In other words, it is not government that is working to benefit all citizens equally, nor is it effective, efficient, or anywhere close to meeting the standards we’d like to see. In good government, there is no room for politics as it is practiced today.
We should be expecting, no, demanding, that our elected officials be good managers. Government is a non-profit, but it still needs managers to wisely use public money to fix the roads, fund our schools, protect the environment and provide for the common defense. But when we vote, we don’t vote for good managers. We vote for pretenders who say just exactly what they think we want to hear, not the truth about what is going on or how they can fix the messes we are in.
Instead, they make bigger messes by keeping you riled up. They modify voting rules to stifle democracy, and they fail to support public schools to keep the electorate uninformed. Without good public schools, we have no defense against ignorance, and an informed electorate is the very foundation upon which democracy is built.
All these challenges to democracy would evaporate overnight if we demanded better, if we held our elected representatives to higher standards.
This disease is not limited to the United States. There are oligarchs and autocrats in other countries, and there are far-right nationalists elsewhere who think fair elections can be stolen and that they are better than people who don’t look like them. That’s why we also need new standards for working with other nations so that an autocrat cannot get away with murdering and stealing from his neighbors. Standards that prevent an organization like the United Nations from giving that autocrat a seat at the table.
But first I will be starting at home. If you’re wondering what this will look like, I’ll be giving a longer explanation at a press conference a week from today. I’ll be introducing aspects of this initiative and presenting some of the basis for the higher standards we need. I’ll also point out how this effort can benefit us on several levels, including furthering the switch to renewable energy.
Every week thereafter, I’ll be holding fireside chats to shepherd this transition and to solicit your comments and suggestions. My work will be fully transparent, honor social and cultural contexts, and benefit the common good. You should be pleasantly surprised.
While we may not always agree on how to solve every issue, I pledge to be a President for all Americans. I am confident that we can find it in ourselves to work together to find common ground and make America a more just, prosperous, and secure nation.
So, over the next week, I ask you to think about this. Shake off all the partisan muck and ask yourself three basic questions: What are your hopes for the future? What kind of world do you want to leave to your children? And what role should government play?
And then let’s get together and talk.
Greg Wessel is an island geologist.