What Do We Fix First?

Right wing groups clash with anti-police protesters on Aug. 22, 2020 in Portland, Oregon: A member of the Proud Boys white nationalist group fires a paint ball gun into a crowd of anti-police protesters, as the two sides clash. (Photo by Nathan Howard/via Getty Images)

Before Biden was elected president in November, the Brookings Institute pinpointed the most important government reforms our political system needed in 2021, in order to instill renewed faith in the process with the American electorate. While there are few positive take-aways from the last four years of political turmoil, it is undeniable that Donald Trump served to reveal many of the biggest weaknesses in our democratic chain link and highlight what needs immediate reform.

Brookings specifies the following glaring issues that need to be immediately addressed by the Biden administration:

  1. Make Deep bureaucratic repairs, that involve limiting campaign spending and special interest lobbing, and create a new path where the government and those who work for us are given the tools and authority to get the biggest jobs done.

  2. Reinforce the ethics system that protects against corruption and overhauls the broken legislative process by ending gridlock and insider dealing and produces effectual federal oversight, by specifically reinforcing the Office of Government Ethics and Offices of Inspector General. (I would argue this should be the first priority.)

  3. Reinvent the federal government, by streamlining and bolstering what is working, and deleting bloated hierarchies, duplication, obsolete field offices, needless regulations, and antiquated systems that serve no real purpose.

  4. Eliminate half of “at-will” presidential appointments, commonly referred to as the Plum Book, to sharply restrict the Trump administration’s process of utilizing every free slot to instill further control over Republicans and the federal hierarchy in general.

  5. Revitalize public service to increase federal productivity and retention, that encourages new generations of Americans to pursue careers in government, restoring “regular order” in the federal budgeting process and focusing on the basic “nuts and bolts” process that creates action.

  6. Employ basic common sense, built on the bedrock of individual responsibility and accountability, that replaces bureaucratic verbiage with real policy that allows the federal government to flourish.

These are all great suggestions and handle some of the most pressing, basic issues that the entire federal government will face in the aftermath of cleaning up the Trump damage, but there is also the issue of unforeseeable obstacles we will continue to face that are keeping the American public in an unproductive state of shell shock. Some of these hurdles can only be handled as they arise, and within the limitations of a nation that is heavily divided and where compromise remains largely absent.

Some of these larger trends will shape the political landscape of 2021 and the next four years and could include issues like:

  • A continued sense of alternate universes, further emphasized by Trump’s talent for taking over the media and a possible campaign launch for a 2024 presidential bid.

  • The ongoing struggle over facts and accurate reporting, with half of the country not truly understanding what that means.

  • The vacuum within the Republican Party, and who big money donors will use to fill it.

  • The ever increasing danger of white nationalism and domestic terrorism, and balancing that threat with the need for First Amendment protections.

  • The implementation of racial justice reform, in a way that has as much broad support as possible, so that policy can be quickly and effectively implemented, making change actually visible in minority communities.

  • Creating any form of meaningful legislation within the current and unrelenting grid-lock in Congress.

  • Taking back the pace of politics after Trump has kept us in a four year media cyclone.

These are just a few of my concerns as we start down this new path of possibility, while trying to heal the nation from the residual trauma of Trump. What are your biggest concerns as we move forward in 2021, and attempt to navigate the repair of America within the greatest cultural divide this country has ever seen? What are you hoping for or working toward, and what do you fear most?

Sound off below.


Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

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