Instead of donating to campaigns, we will put our money behind nonpartisan reforms.
By Trammell S. Crow
The coronavirus is on a path to permanently destroy 10 million jobs, bankrupt 24% of all small businesses, and take the lives of well over 100,000 Americans, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and federal health officials.
Trillions of federal dollars are needed to weather this storm. But we can’t just spend our way out of the crisis, then return to the past. The past brought the present crisis. The future will bring greater challenges. We need to be ready. But we aren’t.
What stands in our way? Our polarized democracy. So long as America is divided between our right and left, any contagion ahead can conquer us, whether biological, environmental or political.
You might blame polarization on President Donald Trump or Vice President Joe Biden, Republicans or Democrats, Fox News or MSNBC. They all may exploit polarization, but they aren’t the cause. They are effects.
The root cause is simple. Polarization is profitable. It buys votes and sells ads. Neatly sorted by our prejudices, Americans across the spectrum are easy targets for those who pander to our fears. No politician or media outlet in a competitive market can resist the pull of this black hole.
There is a solution, but it’s so distasteful, most can’t imagine it: meet with people in the opposing party. On April 24, we tried.
As part of EarthX, we gathered 30 leading Republican and Democratic political donors on Zoom, and discussed ways to reduce polarization and work across partisan lines to solve problems from COVID to climate change.
It was a refreshing change. We are among a few hundred major donors expected to spend $30 billion against each other to paint-bomb the White House either red or blue this November, in a political arms race that is out of control.
We’re canceling each other out. Only the political industry thrives. Worse, nearly every dollar is spent to divide Americans by our ugliest bigotries and fears. With voters busy in battle, power brokers are free to make policy decisions for us, often to protect clients from the anger their dollars activated.
No one planned this. Some benefit a lot more than others. But for all of us, even most we like to blame, the costs are too great. Our families, health, environment, and democracy are at stake.
I can’t name all who joined our gathering yet. But I can introduce you to two of the heroes there who inspired us to launch a campaign to elevate our democracy.
Charles Munger Jr., a physicist who led the effort for congressional redistricting and legislative transparency in California, spent a small fortune inventing a successful new business model for politics. He formed coalitions and used big data to mobilize a category we call Solution Citizens to support democracy reforms and problem-solvers — delivering crossover votes unheard of on the national scene.
Kathryn Murdoch, a solutions entrepreneur trying to clean up oceans and politics, is a co-chair of the nonpartisan political reform group Unite America and a founding investor in the new Citizen Data platform that, like Munger’s, can help mobilize problem-solvers and bridge-builders for solutions.
In This Together is our cross-partisan campaign to recruit 5 million Americans to work across partisan lines to tackle the challenges America faces — COVID, climate change, eroding infrastructure, declining schools, rising prison populations, and the outrageous spending that makes these problems profitable. Five million organized Solution Citizens can shift electoral incentives from fear and demonization to hope and collaboration.
Money won’t deliver a better democracy. But 5 million citizens can. Nearly 2 million have already stepped up. Join them. Sign our Declaration of Interdependence. Then let’s compete as our founders intended, to bring the best of the right and left together, and move America forward.
Trammell S. Crow is the founder of EarthX and co-author with Bill Shireman of the forthcoming book, In This Together: How Republicans, Democrats, Capitalists, and Activists are uniting to tackle climate change and more. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.
This op-ed was originally published in The Dallas Morning News on June 7th, 2020. Read the original article here.