I’ve Been Thinking … About What We All Can Agree On
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of our union and how much it feels like we’ve become the Divided States of America.
These days, we’re living in an age of the preposterous and the unthinkable. We’re subjected to a 24/7 news cycle of anger and adrenaline that entertains, excites, frustrates and ultimately leaves us utterly exhausted. We talk everyday about what we don’t agree on, instead of finding common ground. Agreeing to disagree is civilized, but it’s not going to get us anywhere. Meanwhile, incredibly important social issues like climate change, gun control, immigration, abortion and gender keep pouring gas on a politicized raging fire that has little resolution in sight.
So, where do we go from here? Well, it seems more than a little obvious that we should start with what’s easiest. Let’s start by focusing on what we can agree upon.
I genuinely believe that every American (minus a small fringe element) AGREES that we have got to get the clogs and corruption out of the political system and drain the swamps. I think many of us also believe that this is simpler than those with the real power are willing to let on.
To that end, I’ve been passionately thinking about iron-clad Constitutional changes that would protect our democracy for the brave new world we are living in. I know I’m not alone in my beliefs because I’ve talked about them with a whole lot of people — those who I know and many others who have crossed my path. I’ve even taken the next step to pressure-test my ideas with Republicans, Democrats, Trumpsters, Black, Brown, White, Liberals, Dreamers and Silicon Valley disrupters, and I’ve gotten little to zero push back on the viability of my ideas from any of them.
Here is what I propose…
We the People of the United States ask for amendments to the Constitution that:
- Put a $100 limit on campaign contributions to candidates (including the candidate). No gifts.
- End all political advertising of any kind on all media platforms.
- Make lobbying and lobbyists illegal.
- Make it a requirement that presidential candidates must have served honorably in our military.
- Allow a 10-year term limit for Supreme Court justices.
- Allow 12-year term limits for Senators.
- Allow 10-year term limits for Representatives.
What would all of this mean? It would mean that you can’t buy an election with unlimited campaign contributions or wealth. You can’t keep good people from running for fear they’ll be ruined by political smear campaigns and you can’t cleverly confuse the public on how to vote. You can’t allow lobbyists to buy what is best for their client and unwind our democracy in the process. (It was once illegal and should now be illegal.) You can’t stay in office forever. (This means no more career politicians, more options for voters and that we make room for the next generation.) And, you can’t lead a country you haven’t served. (Vets are well-vetted. By using the service in the military as the highest bar, it eliminates some of the risk of electing only rich, famous or incredibly unqualified, but highly popular, public figures for the highest office in our country.)
How do we get these changes made? Well, I think that it’s time for the titans of technology —those who have disrupted every area of our lives except politics —to finally step up. Let’s use our power as consumers to encourage the largest and richest corporations (think Apple Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Facebook), to come together to disrupt politics as usual by giving the American people the power to vote every day on issues they care about, with just a simple swipe on their platforms.
Does this farfetched? Believe me, it isn’t. And they know it, too.
I know I’m not the first to say these things. I know I’m not the only one who has a young daughter or son growing up in this country and who is fearful about what they’re experiencing America and our democracy to be. I’m afraid for her and for what comes next. I’m afraid for us all.
So let’s start by all agreeing to vote. Every single one of us. Every single time. Get behind the patriots who want to serve in elected office. Choose the ones who you believe know what you want. Choose the ones who you know will put our country before everything else. And, never, ever be afraid to change your mind. These solutions are conceptually very simple. Just like the truth.
Recently, I found my truth tucked away in the 19th Century classic, Democracy in America, by Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville: “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
People, we are better than this. We are all born with goodness. For decades as a nation, we have put so much emphasis on being great. The greatest. We have to be good before we can be great. So, let’s make America good again! Don’t you agree?
This essay was featured in the July 1st edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.