Building a Platform, Part I

While we’ve been working on the essay, “Renewing American Vigor: Transforming Consumption in Public and Private Life,” it’s become apparent to us that we needed to permeate the essay with an ecological perspective. This perspective should demonstrate the holistic nature of good governance, similar to the way our Constitution does. It should also set up a dialogue about design and function of government in the Connected Age.

In other words, to approach Center-driven government and move away from the edges, we need a tool from today’s “political” campaign, in a manner of speaking. To compete in the current culture, we need a “platform,” as the political parties call them, that provides a foundation and a framework that empowers Americans to Fulfill the American Promise in the Connected Age. This platform should be simple, interconnected like an ecology, and easy to implement through the existing political process.

Our colleagues working on A National Strategic Narrative have a “storyline” to integrate their proposals for America…so we’ll borrow and adapt that approach to FAPITCA. This is evolution, not revolution. The platform will help us grow our narrative.

Today’s post lays out five initial categories or “planks” that would make up a platform on which the Center can design and build our nation’s Workman Carrying a Plankfuture. The platform and its planks do not try to reach out to any particular political constituency, but rather seek to offer a workable, “good enough” approach to Fulfill the American Promise. Some of the planks may better appeal to conservative ideals while some may seem to lean more toward progressive principles. To be sure, we don’t propose this platform as our own approach to a “political movement” but rather to inform the evolution of existing platforms.

After all, America has room for more than one perspective; in fact, it requires more than one perspective to remain a diverse and resilient home for freedom, security and prosperity.

This hopefully impartial, neutral bias is by design since we generally view FAPITCA to support and balance socially progressive thinking with fiscally conservative restraint. We propose this balanced state all while positioning America to be a leader and inspiration to the rest of the world. We look to move forward as a nation while minimizing and mitigating the financial burdens we face today.

The platform builds on a couple of main themes: 1), Individuals at all levels have roles and Governments at all levels have roles: America can’t succeed otherwise; and 2), government, business and academia must all work together to open up and build opportunity for all Americans, individually and collectively. Underlying all of this is the fact that our Constitution guarantees to our citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and other important rights critical to the function of our freedoms – these must be preserved. All of this is fundamental to the platform.

In introductory form, the following broad categories compose our platform. These five categories are the planks upon which we’ll build in future posts, consistent with the Principles of FAPITCA. All of these planks are active in the American political environment at some level of maturity today, although some have not been referenced in the halls of Congress for a while.

  1. Ensure Equal Access to Opportunity: The United States is a capitalist-based economy that is supported by democratically-elected servants of the electorate to oversee fair and open competition for access to opportunity and resources to succeed. This does not imply a guarantee of success in competition, but does guarantee all Americans will have access to the same basic entry points for fair and open competition at the beginning. This must include equal access to a baseline income that provides a foundation to support the “pursuit of happiness” as our Declaration of Independence proclaims. This baseline income should offset practical living expenses while making it possible to pay reasonable taxes and to loosen ties to government support. Individuals must all have a level playing field to enter, whether they take advantage of that playing field or not. This is the first definition of the American Promise: “our people have freedom of access to an equal opportunity to succeed (or to fail).”
  2. Transform Production and Consumption: We must not leave our children the tab for all that we’ve produced, consumed and wasted. Covered in more detail in the aforementioned essay, this includes addressing how we value material and intellectual goods and services, how we produce and market these goods and services and how we consume and dispose of them. It also includes developing an understanding of the relationship between “values-based” production, marketing and consumption in the light of changing demographics and resource bases. This emphasis on the transformation of production and consumption is also at the heart of any new or modified “social contract” between America and its citizens. This plank addresses one of the Principles of FAPITCA: We are borrowing this land, culture and governance system from our progeny; what we pay back to them reflects on our legacy and lays the foundation for their legacy.
  3. Protect and Secure our Environment and Infrastructure: America is a rich ecosystem of diverse, interacting parts. Humans are theEnvironment and Infrastructure stewards of this ecosystem although all too often we fail to exercise that responsibility. Two of the most important interacting parts of our ecosystem are our environment, provided by nature, and our national infrastructure, designed and built by all of us: both need care and foresight to continue to nurture and serve Americans. Both must coevolve with each other in ways that protect their distinctive contributions to America so that they help provide maximum security to our way of life and economy. By security, in addition to national defense, we also mean “freedom from anxiety” in the words of our colleague Captain Wayne Porter of the National Strategic Narrative project. Equally important, we must protect and secure our environment and infrastructure for our posterity as our Constitution’s Preamble demands in order “to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…”
  4. Sustain and Advance American Culture, Science and Education: Three of the richest interacting components of America that offer the deepest impact upon our future way of life are our amazingly diverse culture, our contributions to science and our educational systems. Clearly, these distinct but highly interconnected areas go through ups and downs in terms of local, national and global contributions, but they are at the center of all that makes America so great. These three areas deserve constant attention and investment to sustain our future as a nation. Both our citizens and our governments at all levels must work together to build these elements on behalf of America and indeed the world. This is our “seed corn” and must be protected for all future generations.
  5. Restore Recognition for Public Service: America is indeed a capitalist-based economy, but it thrives because for the most part, American governance works and acts effectively as a “silent-partner” to commerce and industry. After all, who else protects intellectual property, maintains law and order, provides national security, builds and maintains our infrastructure and educates future leaders and workers? Government and other forms of public service are critical components of this partnership. We must restore and both improve and streamline the services governments at all levels perform on behalf of Fulfilling the American Promise in the Connected Age. Most importantly, we must restore the image of government and public service as desirable training grounds and potential career pursuits. We should also consider ways to incorporate public service as a supporting and sustaining entry point into any career pursuit regardless of sector; we should find ways to use this initial service as an investment opportunity for education and employment training, much like the GI Bill did for many veterans of military service. Finding success in restoring the image of public service may be one of the best ways to assist our younger generations in both the near- and long-term as they search for new careers and find themselves as Americans. Those that do choose public service careers must understand and feel good about themselves in their service and their contributions to building and sustaining the American Promise.

We’ll explore more about each of these planks in future posts, seeking to refine them into actionable objectives that could inform future policy-making and elections in our nation. Until next time…

Originally posted by Carl and Chuck Hunt, 5/23/2014.



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