To achieve change Socrates said that we need to focus, not on fighting the old but on building the new. That is an admonition that all of America should heed. Instead, we are locked in bitter antagonisms between competing ideologies while problems go unsolved. Angry action begets reaction in a continuing diversion of our energies.

It’s not that there aren’t great ideas. It’s not that there isn’t enthusiasm and will. Rather, it is our lack of focus on what are the most critical elements that need to change that becomes our undoing. We Occupy, we blog, we write books and we endlessly point out all of our societal ills, but without consensus that would lead to change.

We have been divided and conquered by those who stand to benefit from our disunity. We are assaulted daily by various interest groups and pundits who profit from their polemics. Our profit-conflicted media, who should be sorting through the noise, instead add to the dissaray.

The democratic notion that change should come from the bottom up, if leadership fails, is not entirely true. All movements that have achieved significant change have produced leaders who focused the effort. Instead, we are so many frustrated and leaderless groups competing for attention. Regrettably, the most leaderless are often progressives who seem to get caught up in offended reaction to conservatives and endless debate amongst themselves.

We need to turn away from belief and ideology and focus on our future- focus on the critical needs and prioritize them. Then tackle the most important needs in order- with focus and all of our energy, not as progressives or conservatives, but as Americans.

A good place to start is with public financing of elections. That would open up the field and remove the need to sacrifice principle for money. The next step would be to ban all money and job offers from lobbying. A focus on accomplishing these two things would be the most powerfull  thing we can do to restore truly representative democracy in our country.

 

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